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After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music
Illustration by John Hersey

Spotting hit points


From:

After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Spotting hit points

One of the tricks to effectively using audio in your After Effects animation is to make sure that the audio is actually appropriate to your animation. Like this is a very fun animation of these penguins dancing around, but the music is more of like a cool jazz sort of thing. Let's see how they work together. Press 0 to RAM preview. (music playing) Maybe, but I'm not convinced.
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  1. 3m 35s
    1. Overview
      1m 35s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 14m 51s
    1. Setting up
      2m 20s
    2. Entering, editing, and styling type
      5m 49s
    3. Using strokes
      3m 6s
    4. Working with paragraph text
      3m 36s
  3. 23m 21s
    1. Setting a title
      2m 31s
    2. Creating a text animator
      6m 54s
    3. Selecting by character vs. percent
      3m 0s
    4. Animating position
      2m 4s
    5. Animating more properties
      3m 31s
    6. Exploring text transitions
      2m 47s
    7. Randomizing order
      2m 34s
  4. 22m 49s
    1. The Cascade recipe
      2m 15s
    2. Exploring offset plus selection shapes
      4m 16s
    3. Working with ramp selection shapes
      4m 26s
    4. Using character anchor points
      4m 40s
    5. Further refinements
      7m 12s
  5. 9m 0s
    1. Working with selections based on words
      4m 16s
    2. Anchor point grouping
      4m 44s
  6. 15m 46s
    1. Using a vertical blur treatment
      3m 58s
    2. Animated tracking
      5m 46s
    3. Working with text on a path
      6m 2s
  7. 14m 56s
    1. Per-character 3D overview
      5m 45s
    2. Enabling per-character 3D
      4m 4s
    3. Exploring per-character 3D rotation
      5m 7s
  8. 18m 37s
    1. Separating fields
      3m 48s
    2. Exploring wiggly options
      4m 28s
    3. Animating wiggles
      3m 18s
    4. Rendering with alpha channels
      7m 3s
  9. 45m 29s
    1. Adding audio
      4m 8s
    2. Audio levels
      4m 27s
    3. Spotting hit points
      5m 33s
    4. Timing to audio
      5m 25s
    5. Spotting dialogue
      7m 32s
    6. Timing dialogue to music
      6m 45s
    7. Mixing audio
      7m 53s
    8. Exploring audio refinements
      3m 46s
  10. 23m 9s
    1. Applying text presets
      5m 50s
    2. Browsing presets in Bridge
      4m 35s
    3. Editing presets
      6m 49s
    4. Saving presets
      5m 55s
  11. 16m 27s
    1. Working with Photoshop text
      4m 58s
    2. Keyframing source text
      4m 21s
    3. The Buzz Words preset
      7m 8s
  12. 20m 43s
    1. Exploring faux styling options
      7m 42s
    2. Tracking and kerning
      4m 56s
    3. Using smart quotes
      4m 8s
    4. Using hyphens and dashes
      3m 57s

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After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music
3h 48m Beginner Apr 28, 2011 Updated Nov 20, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

One of the cornerstones of motion graphics is creating and animating type. In this course, Trish Meyer shows how to typeset titles professionally and create custom animations, as well as apply and modify the hundreds of text animation presets that After Effects ships with. Additionally, Chris Meyer shows how to add audio to projects, including spotting "hit points" to align keyframes and video action.

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:
  • The core text animation recipes
  • Animating text along a path
  • Working with text animation presets
  • Timing animation to audio
  • Per-character 3D type
  • Rendering with an alpha channel
  • Making Photoshop type editable in After Effects
  • Professional typesetting tips
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Spotting hit points

One of the tricks to effectively using audio in your After Effects animation is to make sure that the audio is actually appropriate to your animation. Like this is a very fun animation of these penguins dancing around, but the music is more of like a cool jazz sort of thing. Let's see how they work together. Press 0 to RAM preview. (music playing) Maybe, but I'm not convinced.

Let's try another audio track. I go down to my Sources folder, and I am going to bring in a track called Playhouse.aif. That's another format After Effects accepts. I will drag it in here. I'll turn off the speaker, or the audio mute for my other audio track. Put them close together so I can keep an eye on them. Now let's try the Playhouse track. Go to RAM preview. (music playing) Yeah! That's a funner piece of music.

I think that has more of the vibe of the penguins. I am going to use that one instead and delete the CoolGroove music. Ideally, I want to line up parts of the video or the animation to my soundtrack. I need to study the audio track and mark important parts in it that I might want to hit with visual cues. To do that, I need to look at the waveform of the audio, how it's making the speakers move and how it's moving sound through the air. I can twirl it open here, here, and here to see the waveform.

To drag it further, I will position my cursor in between layer bars, drag it a little bit taller. The shortcut key is to press LL, two Ls in quick succession. That will twirl open just the audio waveform. The taller the waveform, the louder the audio is at that given point in time. When you see a tall spike, such as these, that then decays down to a smaller level, that's typically a hit on a drum or other percussion instrument--the hit being the loudest part and then the sound decays away.

I'm going to press the Period key on the numeric keypad to preview just the audio. And as the time marker goes through here, get a little bit of practice of trying to line up what you are hearing with what you're seeing, how the sound relates with this waveform. (music playing) Those loudest spikes in the audio, those beats, are ideal hit points to go ahead and time animation to. Now, I can just leave this waveform twirled open all the time and look at it while I am placing my keyframes, but the easier thing to do is to use markers in After Effects.

Markers allow me to mark and annotate specific points in time on layers or in the overall composition. If I have a layer selected and I move my Current Time Indicator to a point that I want to mark, I will press the Asterisk key on the numeric keypad, and that will drop a marker on the selected layer. To delete a Marker, I hold down the Command key on Mac or Ctrl key on Windows. I get a Scissors icon when I'm over to marker. Click and it's gone. If I don't have a layer selected, and press the Asterisk key, instead, I get a marker in the overall composition.

It's good to mark times in your overall comp for like how long you want something to fade up or fade down or major sectional changes in your overall video. But for spotting music, it's far more useful to put those markers directly on the audio track itself. That way, you can slide the audio track around and the markers will go with it. So that's one of the major downbeats. (music playing) That's another big beat right there. I'll go ahead and mark that. (music playing) That's another big beat right here, and right around here, that flute started playing.

I will back up with the Page Up button. (music playing) Right there. Now I will place another marker, but if I double-click on that marker, I can go ahead and add a comment, like flute. Also, if I hold down the Option key on Mac, or Alt key on Windows, when I hit the Asterisk key, I will also get this dialog, and add a comment, like another downbeat. Now I am personally comfortable enough with looking at the audio waveform that I can go ahead and do these markings by eye.

However, if you're the type of person who is much more interactive, you can go ahead and preview the audio and press the Asterisk key while After Effects is playing, and After Effects will place markers for you in real time. So now listen to the audio. (music playing) So I placed another marker there just to go and say that's where another flute phrase was. Now, there is a good chance that you might actually be late when you're pressing the Asterisk key in real time, because it takes computer a while to react. Don't be surprised if you need to drag markers back a frame or two earlier in time to line up these audio spikes.

But once you've got all of these marked out, you can twirl up the waveform, and now you've just got a few markers you can drag things to. I am going to spend a little bit of time marking up the rest of this audio file and then in the next movie, I will show you how I use those markers to line up my keyframes.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music.


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Q: This course was updated on 11/20/2012. What changed?
A: We have added four new movies to the end of Chapter 8, "Working With Audio." All four of these movies (Spotting dialog, Timing dialog to music, Mixing audio, and Refinements) apply to all versions covered by the course. In addition, there are new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6 and a companion movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files.
 
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