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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Preparing compositions for animation


From:

After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Preparing compositions for animation

I know you've heard me say this a lot, but honestly, this is kind of one of my favorite things about working in After Effects, the ability to import external files as compositions is extraordinarily wonderful. But inevitably, you'll probably want to be able to bounce back and forth and make changes and have them update between both applications. Since, in the previous video we imported a layered Illustrator document, this time I want to import a layered Photoshop document. So double-click in the Project panel and navigate in your Exercise Files folder to the Footage folder, and in there, go inside of Photoshop.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 15s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 21s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
8h 41m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the workspace, important preferences, and the cache
  • Importing footage and comps
  • Relinking missing footage
  • Creating type, shape layers, and masks
  • Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
  • Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
  • Timing animations to audio
  • Building backgrounds with effects
  • Rendering with the Render Queue and Adobe Media Encoder
  • Animating 3D type
  • Smoothing shaky footage and retouching footage
  • Keying green screen footage
  • Working with 3D: extruding shapes, adding ray-traced lighting, and more
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Preparing compositions for animation

I know you've heard me say this a lot, but honestly, this is kind of one of my favorite things about working in After Effects, the ability to import external files as compositions is extraordinarily wonderful. But inevitably, you'll probably want to be able to bounce back and forth and make changes and have them update between both applications. Since, in the previous video we imported a layered Illustrator document, this time I want to import a layered Photoshop document. So double-click in the Project panel and navigate in your Exercise Files folder to the Footage folder, and in there, go inside of Photoshop.

Click once on Eco_Shapes and then make sure that Import As is set to Composition. See last time we chose Composition - Retain Layer Sizes. I want to import as a composition just for an example right now. So when we choose Composition, click Open. Under this menu that pops-up, we still have a choice under Import Kind. If we change our mind between Composition or Footage, if I choose Footage I could choose an individual layer or merge all the layers together as one file.

But what we want to do is leave it for Composition and we can leave Editable Layer Styles. And when we click OK, this is going to get imported into our project. If we double-click our Eco_Shapes here, you can see I have a green layer and I have an orange-yellow layer. If I want to use these in this project, I could drag the comp down as a whole. That would be nice because when I drag it down as a whole, you can see exactly what things are looking like.

That looks pretty neat, but unfortunately, if I wanted to animate this bar and that bar separately, what I would need to do is open up the Eco_Shapes comp and then animate these within this comp. And what I really want to do is use both shapes inside of here. So we can do this one of two ways. We can go up under Eco_Shapes layers here and you can see I've got my actual layers or I can just come in to my Eco_ Shapes layers in the timeline and drag a lasso around both layers.

With both layers selected, if I go up under Edit > Copy, when I bring them into the other comp, I can choose Edit > Paste. Now notice they copied right in place. If I select the Eco_Shapes comp layer, Layer 4, I can press Delete and now I have each layer separately. But there's an issue. See, I did bring these in as separate layers, if I turn off the visibility of one or the other, you can see, but when I select the Green layer, look in the center of your comp window.

This cross here, here I'll scroll in with my mouse, this is my anchor point. So if I opened up, let's say the Rotation parameter for Green by pressing R on my keyboard, I could click and scrub through that parameter. Look at what's happening. Here, let me zoom back out. Notice the rotation is actually going to rotate around the center of the layer and the layer itself is actually the size of the comp. See, if I undo my rotations here, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z on the PC, you see that I've got my layer here and it's actually the entire size of the composition. Let me scroll out.

See the handles there? That happened because we imported this Photoshop document as a composition, not a composition while retaining layer sizes. So just to start over, I want to go ahead and select our Eco_Shapes layers and drag them to the Trash right here on my Project panel. When I press Delete, I still have my Eco_Shapes comp. I can drag it out to the Trash as well. Instead, let's double-click in our Project panel and import that PSD as a Composition - Retaining Layer Sizes.

Now when we click Open, again, we'll leave the Import Kind set and leave Editable Layer Styles. When we click OK, you can see if we open our comp, we have both layers and they are separate. But notice now when I select each one of these layers, here let me open up my Rotation, I can actually control where the animation takes place, and by default, it will be centered on each individual layer. Let's undo that rotation. I'm going to collapse layer 1 and select both layers and Copy and Paste.

Notice when I did Copy/Paste, it actually put the layers in place within my comp window. I know you're thinking this is pretty cool. I've imported these layers and I can animate them separately and my anchor point is set up properly. But what if I want my anchor point to be on, I don't know, the left-hand side? Well you want to use the Pan Behind tool, which is up in your Tool panel in the upper left part of the interface. See this icon to the right of the little camera? That's your Pan Behind tool. If you click on that, then you can click on the anchor point for this orange-yellow layer, and if I drag it to the left, now when I choose Rotation and click and drag, you can see it's rotating around that point.

Let's just undo that. This is also very helpful if I wanted to do a Scale Option here. I could unlink the X and Y parameters and just click and drag on the X, and look, I can make it grow out of the side of the screen. That's pretty cool, right? Well what if you needed to go back into Photoshop for some reason to make a change? Let's say I want to change the edge of this layer but I don't necessarily want to add a mask to this layer inside of After Effects. Well you can quickly jump back and forth between After Effects and Photoshop or Illustrator or whatever file you've imported, just by right-clicking on the layer within the timeline.

Then choose Reveal Layer Source in Project. That will automatically bring that layer to the front of your Project panel, so then you can right-click directly on that layer and say, Reveal in Finder, or Windows Explorer on the PC. When we're in the Finder, now you guessed it, we just need to double-click the Photoshop document to open it back up in Photoshop. I want to clean up the edge of this Green layer and I wanted to have a slight curve. Now I know this isn't a Photoshop class, so we're not going to spend a lot of time in here.

I'm just going to grab our Elliptical Marquee tool. If you see the rectangle one, just click and hold and choose Elliptical Marquee. Let's start kind of three-quarters to the left side of our comp and click and drag. I'll just reposition this by moving my mouse in the middle of the cursor and there we go. Let's say I want that to be my new left edge. So I'm going to go to Selection and choose Inverse, so now everything else other than the circle selected, and press Delete on my keyboard.

I know I could press Delete because I already had the Green layer selected in my Layers panel. So it's time to go up under Select and say Deselect and just File > Save to save the change you've made. If we jump back over into After Effects, notice nothing has really happened. Since the layer is already highlighted, all we have to do is right-click on that layer in the Project panel and choose Reload Footage. This will force After Effects to go back to that Photoshop document and then reload the revised version.

Notice even now that it's been reloaded, when I click on the Green layer, it's now changed the bounding box to this portion of the layer. It's pretty cool to have that interoperability. So I hope you can see how valuable it is to pay attention to what you import when you import compositions and more importantly, how nice it is that Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects all play very nicely together.

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