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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Quizzler solution two: Perfect orbit


From:

After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Quizzler solution two: Perfect orbit

The next Quizzler solution we are going to walk through is how to create this perfectly orbiting motion path. Now one way you can tackle this is indeed you try to craft a perfectly round motion path using Bezier handles and carefully tugging things out and you can do that, but you will spend a lot of time and it's going to be hard to get it perfect. So what other tricks can you use to create this perfect orbit? Well, one of the subjects we discussed in this lesson is the anchor point.

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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
3h 1m Beginner Jan 26, 2011 Updated Nov 12, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Chris Meyer helps beginning After Effects artists take their animations to the next level. Chris shows how to refine animations to create elegant, coordinated movements with the minimum number of keyframes—as well as slam-downs, whip pans, and other attention-getters. Additional movies show how to reverse-engineer existing animations, create variations on a theme, and master other parts of the program. Even though this course is designed for beginners, even veterans should learn tricks that many experienced users are unaware of. Chris' friendly running commentary lets you in on his mental process as he works on an animation. Exercise files are included with the course.

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®.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how keyframes work under the hood
  • Controlling the Anchor Point to create more predictable animations
  • Mastering the Graph Editor for the ultimate control over keyframes
  • Animating parameters including motion paths
  • Hand-drawing motion paths to simplify complex movements
  • Applying and tweaking Motion Blur
  • Using Hold keyframes
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Quizzler solution two: Perfect orbit

The next Quizzler solution we are going to walk through is how to create this perfectly orbiting motion path. Now one way you can tackle this is indeed you try to craft a perfectly round motion path using Bezier handles and carefully tugging things out and you can do that, but you will spend a lot of time and it's going to be hard to get it perfect. So what other tricks can you use to create this perfect orbit? Well, one of the subjects we discussed in this lesson is the anchor point.

We set the anchor point is the center around which all transformations take place, including rotation. Now you might think of well, the anchor point should be somewhere on the layer, but who says it has to be? If you move the anchor point well off to the side and then animate rotation, well, that layer is going to animate around that anchor point, no matter where that anchor point is. So now let's go look at the solution. I'll stop this, open up Quiz - Butterfly Orbit Comp. I'll select my Butterfly layer and type Shift+P to also reveal the position and you will see no Position keyframes. It is keeping the same position.

Instead, I'm animating Rotation. That's how I'm getting this orbital path, and the trick all came down to the anchor point. It has been moved off to the side of this butterfly and indeed if I want to make a larger orbit, all I need to do is just scrub the anchor point value to put the butterfly closer to the center or further away from the center. Now I can have a more exaggerated orbit path. I could even animate the anchor point to have the butterfly come in towards the center during the course of my animation.

Now it well slowly spiral in, not by animating position, by animating the anchor point, the center rotation, and animating Rotation. Now as long as we're playing around with this, I want to show you one more trick. I am going to undo to get back to where I was. There is my butterfly. How would I create a perfectly seamless loop to this animation? Right now, I have got the pause at the end. Well, all too many After Effects artists think all they need to do is press the End key, move their last keyframe to that end of a composition, and set it to say one rotation.

At home I have a value of zero rotations and at the end I have a value of one rotation. But that's not quite the right answer. Because when you press End you're not at the very end of the comp. You're one frame before the end of the comp. And if you have essentially the same value at the endpoint as you do at the start point you're going to repeat that position for one frame. Let me press zero to do another RAM preview and you see what I get here. There's a slight hitch in the butterfly's motion as he pauses for one frame before moving on. There it is.

So the secret to creating seamlessly looping animations in After Effects is not to put your last keyframe at the end of the comp but to press Page Down and go one frame beyond at the end of the comp. By doing so, you are now at a point that's essentially the same as coming back to the start of the comp. If I put my last keyframe one frame beyond the end of my comp, now I have a seamless loop as I go back to the start of the comp position. I'll preview and as we come around to this point there is no hitch, perfectly smooth.

And this is a trick even a fair number of experienced After Effects users get wrong or don't know about. They put things at the end of the comp when really that looping keyframe should be one frame past the end. So that's something else you've learned.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation.


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Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
 
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

Q: This course was updated on 11/09/2012. What changed?
A: We have updated the movie dealing with Time Display to be applicable to working with different versions of After Effects (from CS4 to CS6). We also added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, including the new exercise files designed for After Effects CS6.
 
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