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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.
Adobe Media Encoder is a program bundled with Adobe After Effects. And since it's a separate application, it can greatly increase your throughput by allowing your system to render in Media Encoder while you keep working in After Effects. Now you should have a pretty fast system to take advantage of that workflow and since the RAM and processor settings are shared across After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Media Encoder, you won't have to worry about setting up all those preferences again as long as you already set them up in After Effects. To get started with Media Encoder, you need to navigate to your Program or Applications folder and launch the app.
So once Media Encoder is open, you notice we have a four-panel interface. It starts in the upper-left and that's where we can add After Effects projects or QuickTime files or what have you. Now if we move the Media Encoder to the side, we could literally drag a composition straight from After Effects right into the queue. But I like to work this way where we just click the button in the upper left-hand corner. When you click on Add Source, navigate through your exercise files to Ch_07, and in Ch_07, choose the Media Encoder project. Now click Open.
Notice in the bottom-left, it's saying it's connecting via dynamic link. What's great about that, it pulls up everything that's in your Project panel that's related to something that's created within After Effects. See, if we jump back into our After Effects project, you can see we have two compositions and three folders all created within After Effects. The QuickTime file will not be referenced by Media Encoder. So let's just jump back in here. We don't want to output our Mill Pre Comp, we want to output our Output Comp, yet another reason for naming your output comps with the word output.
Now if you click OK, Media Encoder will use that composition to render any of the files that you want to create, starting with the left pulldown button here. Let's go ahead and click on that. This is where you can specify the format that you'd like to create; everything from H.264 to Blu- ray, to MPEG2 for DVD, or QuickTime. So let's choose QuickTime, and then the Preset Options to the right of that right here, let's click on that pulldown, these are subset of options that obviously will be directly related to what you chose under the format.
I like this 720p setting, but I do want to change the codec. So let's click off of this Preset pulldown and click directly on the name. Now this may launch dynamic link one more time, but that's okay. It'll open up a preview window for our Export Settings. In this interface here, notice we can see the source and then if we click on the Output tab, this is going to give us a preview as the output of the file. Now down here in the bottom, you do have a timeline, you can scrub through and it does have the current-time indicator.
It will show you exactly what it's going to render, and by default, it will render the entire composition. I remember our comp only had a small work area, so I'm going to choose Work Area. Now it's only going to render the first five seconds which is exactly what I'm looking for. Now let's go to the right side of the interface. Again, you have another option to go here and change the format or the preset. Down here under Output Name, this is where you can click to not only name the file you're going to create, but navigate to a folder where you can output that file.
So I'm going to navigate to my Footage folder and create a new folder in here called Renders. When we click Create, now we can click Save. That's where this file is going to be saved. Now down here in the bottom-right corner, I could add a filter to my video or adjust the video settings, yet again. So in here, I could make a change, let's say, I want to do Animation codec instead of H.264 and that's great, and I can get through the rest of these options by scrolling with my mouse wheel.
But as you do that, I want you to be aware, if your mouse hovers over any of these pulldowns and you scroll, you can accidentally change important information. So you want to make sure when you're scrolling that you're kind of lay off to the side when you do that. And as a matter of fact, since I'm in Animation codec, I am going to increase the quality to 100%. This will make the file size larger, but that's okay. When you like the settings that you have set up, you can go ahead and click OK and now you notice I have a Custom setup.
Now if you want to create another file, you can go to the System Presets. For example, here, let's say, I want to create something for an iPhone. Well I can browse to my Devices, go to the Apple section and scroll down, here we go, iPod and iPhone. Let's drag and drop that right into my queue. When I let go, now I have a second option, and if you look on the right-hand side of the queue panel, you can see under Output File, the file path. Notice, it's automatically chosen the same folder as the previous QuickTime.
If we click this Play button in the upper- right, that will start the rendering process. Now there's one last thing I want to talk to you about and that is Watch Folders. Watch Folders are interesting. You can create a folder on your hard drive and anytime you drop a file into that folder, Media Encoder will automatically start converting that file to whatever format you choose. Now setting this up is the same process we went through setting files up in the queue. I just want you to understand, there's one setting in Preferences that you can adjust.
So if you go into Adobe Media Encoder and Preferences in Windows, it's under Edit. We'll go into our Preferences, in here, there's an option to start the queue automatically when idle after a certain amount of time. If you enable this, anytime you launch Media Encoder and start adding files into the Output queue, it's counting down. So for example, once it gets to the two minutes here, it will automatically start encoding these files in the background. When you have this enabled, that also sets a timer for that Watch Folder.
So I don't like having to set up for auto, so I'll just deselect. If you don't set a time in here, when you drop things into the Watch Folder, Media Encoder will automatically start running immediately on that file. I'm going to click OK and tell you one last thing about Watch Folders. They support file formats. They don't support project formats. The reason being, if I drag an After Effects project into a Watch Folder, it wouldn't know which composition to open up and start rendering. So Watch Folders are great if you just want to automatically encode, let's say, a version for the iPod, the iPad, and your Android device, every time you create a full-res render.
You could set that up so Media Encoder does that separately from your After Effects renderers, but it's created from your high-res After Effects renderers. You get the idea. Now with Media Encoder, you can definitely speed up your workflow because, again, it's a separate application. Just understand when you allocate RAM and memory and all that other stuff, you should have a pretty decent system to keep things moving rapidly.
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