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Expressions are one of the most powerful but underused features in After Effects. They can be used to animate layer properties with code, as compared to explicitly keyframing every value in the Timeline, and have multiple parameters and layers that follow the lead of a master layer or controller effect, making it much easier to coordinate complex animations and quickly accommodate client changes. In this introduction, Chris Meyer shows how to let After Effects do most of the work by creating simple but very useful expressions that can be put to work on a wide variety of jobs.
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®.
To make sure you're able to take what you've learned in this lesson and put it to work solving your own problems, we have a little Quizzler challenge for you. Open up the Quizzler folder in the Project panel, then double-click the comp Quiz_Gears*starter to open that. I'll press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM Preview and you see we have a very simple animation where this master pulley rocks back and forth using these three keyframes. Your challenge is to animate these two smaller pullies in a way that would match what would happen if they were touching each other in real life.
Yes, you could use keyframes, but try to use the expressions, as that would make it easier to accommodate client changes so just moving the keyframes or changing their values. Simple enough? Well, in the Quizzler Solutions, I'll show you two different ways of cracking this particular problem. As a second bonus challenge, I'd like to go back to a project you worked on earlier. Open up 07-Master Control*starter, and you may remember that you created this Master Color Control which allowed you to change the color of all of the text and this underscore bar all from one color swatch.
Let's say the client comes along and says, "That's great. I am finally happy with the color, but it would be nice if these all had a drop shadow." And you know this client; they like to change their mind. So how would you go about adding a drop shadow to each one of these elements, but being able up to change that shadow with one set of controls? Think about that, and let's compare notes when you are done.
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