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Discover how to manipulate time in After Effects. Author Chris Meyer shows how to stop, slow, and speed up footage, and how to combine these techniques with nested compositions, expressions, and the Graph Editor. Along the way, he reveals several important yet somewhat hidden functions, such as the advanced composition setting that ensures predictable stop motion, the Frame Mix and Pixel Motion modes of the Frame Blending switch, and the Time Remap parameter.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
In the previous two movies we showed you how to smooth out studdery motion that may result from slowing down the footage, but what if you do want that studdery motion? Maybe you do need a stop-motion or counting-through-time sort of feel. Well, let's show you how to do that. Open up the comp 11a-Preserve Rate*starter. Again, here we have our man walking from his car into his plane. If I open up the Composition Settings for this comp, I'll find it has a rate of 23.976. That's a common filmic rate for video.
Note that I also have this comp nested into a second comp--nesting with the subject of an earlier After Effects Apprentice lesson. I'll press the Shift key to bring up the mini flowchart, navigate to the comp this one is nested in, 0 to RAM Preview, and you see what we have here is a nice lower third and a little bit of a animated text building on over the video footage of this guy walking from his car. Say the client sees this and says, "Okay, I see what you're he doing here, but what would be even better is if this had more of a surveillance-photo sort of look.
So rather than being smooth video, maybe have a series of still images. How can we do that?" Well, you say, "I know how to do that. I'll just change the frame rate." So we'll navigate back to the earlier comp. You can press the Shift key again, go back to your earlier comp, or you can just click on these tabs along the top of the Timeline panel, go back to your Composition Settings and set a really low rate, say maybe just 1 frame a second. I'll RAM Preview that, and that very much has a stuttered still image sort of feel to it rather than being clean video. Great! So you go back to your main comp, you go render it, and this is what it looks like.
It's still smooth video. What's going on here? Let's go back to our earlier upstream comp of this footage going 1 frame a second, and if you remember from the earlier After Effects Apprentice lesson on nesting and pre-composing, there's this is very important, but well hidden option inside Composition Settings, underneath the Advanced tab, called Preserve frame rate. Normally when one comp is nested into another that master comp's frame rate is used to render all the previous nested compositions, or pre-comps.
If however you want to honor the frame rate of a nested pre-comp, you need to turn on Preserve frame rate under the Advanced tab of Composition Settings. I'll click OK. I'll preview. Things look exactly the same here as they did before. That's good. Now let's go to our output, let's do a RAM Preview, and now you will see that our man in the background still has this nice stop-motion feel to it, even though our animation for the text is still smooth.
This animation of layers in this comp take on this composition's frame rate, 23.976. However, our pre-comp will use that pre-comp's frame rate only because we set the Preserve frame rate switch for that pre-comp, and that's the trick.
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