After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Rendering your first animation


After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

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Video: Rendering your first animation

If you're new to animation, you might not be familiar with the terms render or rendering. I like to think of the word render as a fancy word for output. See, when you complete a project inside of After Effects, it's just that, inside of After Effects. Most of the time, you'll want to create some kind of self-contained file outside of After Effects, so you can watch it later like in a QuickTime Player or Windows Media Player. It's important to note that After Effects can create all kinds of files.
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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 16s
    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 22s
    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 28s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 17s
    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 20s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 34s
  13. 15m 57s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 25s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 16s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 40s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 39s
    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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Watch the Online Video Course 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
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Rendering your first animation

If you're new to animation, you might not be familiar with the terms render or rendering. I like to think of the word render as a fancy word for output. See, when you complete a project inside of After Effects, it's just that, inside of After Effects. Most of the time, you'll want to create some kind of self-contained file outside of After Effects, so you can watch it later like in a QuickTime Player or Windows Media Player. It's important to note that After Effects can create all kinds of files.

They don't always have to be video files. You can create still files like JPEG or Photoshop documents. In this video, I'll show you how to render your composition at full resolution. To get started, let's make sure we have our Logo_Animation composition open. When you go to create a render, you want to make sure that you have the composition open that you're going to render. It seems pretty straight forward, right? Now the next thing you want to pay attention to is the playback range. See, when you scrub through a project or you're working on specific sections, you may have hit N to shorten your playback range so you would have a quick preview in your RAM Preview.

But when you actually go to render this, After Effects will default to rendering the work area. So a lot of times, if you just want to output the extended comp, there is a switch for that, that you can change, but I like to just sort of be aware of the work area before I create my movie. A quick way of dealing with that, if you press End on your keyboard, that will automatically move your playhead to the end of the timeline as long as the timeline is active; see with this yellow line. Now after pressing End on the keyboard, I can press N to reset my out point of my playback range.

Now when I'm ready to make my movie, I can go up to Composition and choose Add to Render Queue. That will pop up the Render Queue. The default location for the Render Queue is down here in the timeline area. I personally like to move it up into the comp area. So I'm just going to click and drag on these little grippy dots right here. If you click and drag up, I'm going to drag up and tell I get this dark purple line at the top. Now when I let go, you can see my Render Queue is dead center right in the middle of my composition.

I can go to my Render Settings to set up my configuration. First thing, if you want to render something full resolution, Best Setting is probably the best way to leave it. I like clicking on the words for Best Setting, so you can see everything like I'm going to render it at the Best Quality at Full Resolution at the size 1280x720. Remember what I said about the Preview Range or the Work Area Duration? This is where that would pop up. And in the pulldown menu here, notice under Time Span, it's set to default to the Work Area Only.

Now since we reset the work area for the entire length of the comp, notice it's going to start here and end at 09:23, giving us the full 10 seconds of duration. You can choose to render a specific area just by clicking the Custom button, and this is where you can tell it, you know, I only want to render 5 seconds or 3 seconds, or what have you. I'm just going to press Cancel because I do want to render the full thing at Full Quality. When I click OK, my Render Settings are set for the size, and how long of a clip I'm going to make.

The Output Module will help me determine exactly what kind of file I'm going to create. If I click this pulldown button here, you notice I have a bunch of Presets that I could use. When you first get started, I recommend not using those Presets, but literally just clicking on the word Lossless, because then, I can make some adjustments under the Output Module. So my default, since I'm on a Mac, is QuickTime. But, if you click on that, you could choose any of the other options like a Photoshop Sequence, or a TIFF Sequence, or H.264 if you're trying to create a really tiny file.

I'll just click off of that window, leave it set to QuickTime, and in the Video Output section, this button right here for Format Options, this allows me to specify the codec. I'm going to click that button, and probably leave it the Animation codec. I like using Animation because that is a full resolution lossless compression. And especially when you're dealing with motion graphics, it's important that you don't compress or over-compress your animation.

You can click on the Animation pulldown and choose any of these other codecs. Another good choice are these Avid DNxHD Codecs. And finally, for you Apple folks, the Apple ProRes codec is pretty decent as well. But I recommend leaving it Animation, and leaving the settings at 100% Quality, and clicking OK. If we had audio in our project, this is where we could select audio for the output, but since we don't, I'll just leave that deselected.

When we click OK, we're actually ready to render our project. But let's look at where this file is going to be created on my computer. Click on the words Logo_Animation, and here, this is where I can specify exactly what I want to name the QuickTime file I'm now creating. I'll leave it set for Logo_Animation, but just add _FullRes to the end of it, and notice where it's actually going to save the file. Now typically when I work, I have another folder that I use to save my video files in.

So for now, I'm just going to render right to the Desktop, and click Save. All right, now there's one more thing I want to mention before we hit Render, and that has to do with the Animation codec. Typically, when you render graphics, you want to use something that's uncompressed and that's why I chose the Animation codec. It is a lossless compression, so it is compressed but it won't degrade the quality as I mentioned earlier. But it also creates extraordinarily large files. So if you don't have a particularly fast hard-drive or a lot of RAM on your computer, you may not be able to play back the Animation QuickTimes at full resolution off your hard-drive, again because it's fully uncompressed.

If you just want to preview or share your QuickTime with somebody else to see, I recommend maybe rendering in H.264 video. Again, we rendered Animation because if I were to send this to a video editor, I would want it to come in at as high quality as possible. All right, now we're ready to go ahead and hit Render. Now when you click Render, you'll get a preview as to how long it's taking up here in the top with the progress bar that's loading. Now there's one other thing, when your project is rendering, you can expand the Current Render triangle here, and see exactly what's rendering when.

That way, if you notice something is hanging up as it's rendering, you can actually go back and look at that specific thing and see if you can make an adjustment so it renders faster. But as you can see right now, this is working perfectly fine, so I'm going to leave it alone and let it finish its render. Now that that's rendered, I just want to tell you one more thing. The RAM Preview in After Effects is awesome, and the new caching system for CS6 is nothing short of a huge leap forwards.

But don't be afraid to step away from the desk and get comfortable with rendering. I mean sometimes, when you render a project, it's going to take a little while. So I seem to find that a short break and a cup of coffee is the perfect way to shake things up and unlock your creativity while you're waiting for things to render. All right, well now that our render has finished, let's go to the Desktop and watch our QuickTime. I'll make this full screen and press the Spacebar, so you can see the fruits of our labor.

(video playing)

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