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Parenting is a way to group multiple layers within the same composition inside After Effects. In this course, Chris Meyer shows how to set up a parenting chain, discusses what makes a good parent, and demonstrates several techniques using parenting, such as creating a title animation with a minimal number of keyframes, building a geometric construct, and bringing an anthropomorphic robot arm to life. Sidebar topics include avoiding a scaling gotcha with parenting and creating abstract backgrounds using the Fractal Noise effect.
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®.
Next let's animate on our titles. Our previous After Effects lesson, Type and Music, demonstrated some of the different techniques for animating type. I think I'll like to go for cascade to have things spill on to the screen just as the arm reaches a word. I'm going to focus on this last word skydiving here and let's get that to work to my satisfaction. This is the point where the robot arm hits that word. That's where I want my animation to finish. I'll select skydiving, I'll twirl it open, and go Animate > Opacity. Opacity is one of the key ingredients to our cascade recipe.
In addition to cascading I think I'll like these to be slamming down into position. So I am going to add the Scale parameter. Now remember one of the key things of setting up a cascading recipe is you need to twirl down the Range Selector, go into the Advanced section, and change the shape to either Ramp Up or Ramp Down. That's required for a cascading type of animation. I'm going to reduce the Opacity to 0. So I see how this is fading off over the course of my selection. Increase Scale to something large. Maybe somewhere around there. I could play around this later and start playing around with the Range Selection itself.
If I only want this animation to go over, say, half of the characters, I'll set it at 50%. For cascade animation I need to animate the Offset property. Now I do know at this particular point in time I want the animation to be completely on. That requires an Offset value of 100%. That means transitioning the entire word on when the animaton is done. So I'll set a keyframe there, and start thinking about timing. For how long I want this word to take to come on? I have mentioned before that the timing in-between our rhythmic chugs is every second or every 30 frames.
A good timing division are divisions of 2. 15 frames, 7-and-a-half frames. I am feeling that 7-and-a-half may be pretty quick to bring a whole word on. So for starters, I'm going to try 15 frames instead. I'll press the Shift key and press Page Up to jump forward 10 frames in time. Then press Page Up 5 more frames, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Now I'm going to set my other Offset keyframe. The first Offset keyframe should be negative at the end, negative your spread between start and end. So I'll set this to -50 and now my word is completely off.
Let's RAM preview. Maybe go back to this previous beat at 3 seconds. Press B to begin my work area and choose a nice rhythmic end here like at 5 seconds. I'm actually going to go one frame before. I like to have a loop in my music right through this section and I don't want to repeat the beat at 3 and the beat at 5. So I am going to press N at one frame before. RAM preview. (Whir, whir, whir) I like the timing, but I don't like the movement.
It's animating from left to right, but the bullet is at the left end of the word. I think I need to turn this around to get the impact of the arm and the bullet hitting together. Well, that's not too difficult. You might be tempted to think that all you need to do is play your animation backwards. So you can select those, right- click, choose Keyframe Assistant > Time-Reverse Keyframes. Well, that doesn't work either because now they are animating off the screen rather than animating on the screen. That's okay. You have another ramp shape, Ramp Down.
This will reverse the direction of that animation. So in addition to having reverse timing you have a reverse direction and now it snaps down into position. Preview that quickly. (Whir, whir, whir) Perfect! That's what I'm after. It looks good! Okay, let's make a few more improvements. For one, I'd like to add blur to my type animation. It just makes things look kind of nice and elegant. So go to Property > Blur and I'll increase the Blur amount so that it's soft as it comes down.
Now that I have some Blur and Opacity going on in a shorter selection, I think I am going to scale up bigger. So I'm going to increase this in size, make it a more dramatic slap-down, maybe around there, and there are a couple of more adjustments I'd like to make underneath More Options. For one, I want it animating around the center of the characters. To do that I'll use Grouping Alignment. And we'll scrub that until things look roughly centered right around there. That looks good. Maybe just a touch higher like there.
Finally, to really make this thing pop I'm going to take advantage of Inter-Character Blending. Since I have overlapping characters in addition to some nice blur, I am going to go ahead and use a blend mode to highlight the interaction between the overlapping characters. I'll try Add and now I have got a nice, bright, hot glow as the characters come down into place. I'll preview that one more time. (Whir, whir, whir) I like that. It's got some pop to it. I've animated one line of text.
I'd like to animate all the other lines. First thing I'm going to do is trim this layer to begin my first keyframe. So I'm not confused looking at the timeline as to where things start. I hold on Option on Mac, Alter on Windows, press left square bracket and trim it. Then with skydiving selected I'm going to press U+U to see what parameters I have edited. This will tell me what parameters I need to copy to my others text layers. I edited Grouping Alignment. I hold Command or Ctrl and also pick Inter-Character Blending.
The whole Animator is new so I'll click on that as well. Transform Position unique to this layer. I don't want to copy that. And Source Text is unique to this layer. So I don't want to copy those. I just want to copy these three items. At this point I could go to Effects & Presets and make an animation preset of this particular animation we've just created. Or I can just copy these parameters, Comamnd+C or Ctrl+C, and start to paste it to the other text layers. So I am going a little earlier time. Our animation takes 15 frames.
So let's go 15 frames before this hit, 10, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Look at that. It times exactly with the Servo noise. Perfect! Now press the left square bracket to slide this layer to start that time and then Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste. I scrub my time indicator. Perfect! That's what I want there. I'll do this quickly for the other layers. There is that hit 10, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, left bracket, paste.
Put here 10, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 left bracket, paste. Double-click my Work Area to now cover the entire composition and RAM preview one more time. (Whir, whir, whir) Big improvement! The last tweak I am going to do to my actual movement in this composition is to add Motion Blur to all the layers at move.
To do that, I'll go to the Motion Blur switch in the Timeline panel and turn it on for all of my text layers. Remember you can click-and-drag it vertically to enable multiple layers and then I'll do the same for the robot arm pieces. Drag down to get all of those pieces. You won't actually see or calculate Motion Blur until you also enable it for all of the composition. Now you'll see the end of my arms blurring and the text looks even more interesting. However, that can slow down previews. If you find this slowing you down too much, you can go ahead and disable the Motion Blur switch while you continue working.
Since I have a fairly fast computer here, I'll leave it on because I like how it looks.
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