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After Effects Apprentice 16: Creating a Medical Opening Title
Illustration by John Hersey

Time stretching


From:

After Effects Apprentice 16: Creating a Medical Opening Title

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Time stretching

The previous movie used the only CS6 specific feature that's required by this entire final project. And that is the ability to track a camera's motion. If you don't have CS6 but you do have access to the exercise files, open up Intermediate Comps and you can either work with our Tracked Hero composition or select the Track Null and the 3D Tracker Camera, copy them and paste them into your own Hero + Title composition. I'll close this for now. So we have a nice shot here and we've tracked its motion but it's not long enough to fill our entire composition.

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After Effects Apprentice 16: Creating a Medical Opening Title
3h 30m Intermediate Jan 17, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This project-oriented course leads you through the creative and technical process of building an opening title sequence from scratch in Adobe After Effects. Author Chris Meyer shows how to pull together numerous skills you've learned in the other After Effects Apprentice courses, from working in 3D space to creating type and shape layers to writing expressions. Along the way, Chris lets you in on the mental process he uses when creating similar spots for real-world clients, while sharing numerous tips that will help broaden your After Effects skills.

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 library.

Topics include:
  • Animating to music
  • Arranging layers in 3D space
  • Performing time stretches
  • Working with 3D camera tracking
  • Typesetting and animating text
  • Adding effects like drop shadows and motion blur
  • Creating and animating shape layers
  • Building and delivering a broadcast package
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Time stretching

The previous movie used the only CS6 specific feature that's required by this entire final project. And that is the ability to track a camera's motion. If you don't have CS6 but you do have access to the exercise files, open up Intermediate Comps and you can either work with our Tracked Hero composition or select the Track Null and the 3D Tracker Camera, copy them and paste them into your own Hero + Title composition. I'll close this for now. So we have a nice shot here and we've tracked its motion but it's not long enough to fill our entire composition.

Well, there's a couple of things we can do to help solve this problem. One, is we may not need it to be visible for the entire composition. I'm going to go back to the Final Comp and remember we went ahead and placed these markers that indicated when various pieces of video came into the frame and are out of the frame. In my case, with my own particular arrangement of layers, my own camera move, that time when Hero enters is at 05:16. This time may change depending on how you've arranged your layers and how you animated your camera but this is the number that works for me. I'll click OK.

I'll go to Hero + Title, go to 5.16, press Enter, and that's the first frame where I even need to see these layers. So I'll select the 3D tracker camera and surgery.mov and press the left bracket to justify their in-times to start at this new time. I don't need to move the Track Null because it's not animating anyway and it already fills the entire length of my composition. I'm going to type B to begin my work area at this point and next I need to turn my attention to how to take this video and stretch it out to the very end of the comp because my hero is indeed visible to the last frame of my composition.

Well, to do that, I'm going to press End to move my current time indicator to the end of this composition and I've got a couple of different ways to go. It just so happens there's a really nice keyboard shortcut in After Effects to stretch selected layers to make sure the duration last from the current endpoint to where the current time indicator is. The keyboard shortcut is Cmd+Opt on Mac or Ctrl+Alt on Windows, then press the comma key and, bang, they'll stretch out to go ahead and fill this entire length. If you want to see exactly what that stretch value is, you can go ahead and expand the in, out, duration, and search columns or right-click and choose just to view the stretch column.

So I'm stretching this by just over 208% or just under half speed to fill this required duration. I'll go ahead and close these other column headers. Let's see how this works. I'm going to press the Zero key on my numeric keypad to RAM preview my work area, get frame to start at the beginning of my layers and I'm going to wait till I see this at full speed but I suspect this is going to be a little bit on the stuttery side, let's see how this looks. Here is the full speed playback and now you can really see some staggering to the motion particularly when he turns his head.

I'm not really pleased with that stuttery motion. Well in After Effects, you have a couple of different options to smooth out the motion of a time stretched layer. And they reside underneath the Frame Blending Switch. The camera does not have a Frame Blending Switch because it's not really footage. It's just interpolating its position between keyframes so it's already good. But I'll go ahead and enable Frame Blending in the Frame Mix mode for the Surgery layer and to make sure I see the results inside the comp panel, I will also enable Frame Blending for this composition.

Setting the switch for a layer means that's how it's going to render but if you want to preview it, you need to also enable the switch in the timeline panel. Let's go ahead and RAM preview that, see how it looks. That's an improvement but when he turned his head, his eyes were a bit blurry and that's because Frame Mix mode blends together adjacent frames to smooth out the motion. We can create a bit of a ghosting effect and that what's making me lose some resolution right here.

So I'm going to try the other Frame Blending option of Pixel Motion mode. I'll click it one more time until the slash turns into a solid slash going the other direction and we'll RAM preview that. It will take longer to calculate. I looked at this previously so in my case I'm reloading this from my hard drive. And it looks already to me as if this motion is going to be a lot smoother. Let's go ahead and play it back at full speed now. And yes, everything has a much more liquid, more fluid quality to it and it doesn't feel like it's staggered or stuttering or echoey.

I'm also keeping some better resolution here when he turns his head. I'm not quite getting that blurring as adjacent frames are being mixed together. Pixel Motion actually creates brand new pixels that guess, this is where that pixel probably would be if we really had footage at this point in time. Pixel Motion mode isn't perfect. Occasionally, you'll see some artifacts, particularly along the TV screen there in the background, but frankly by the time I have a nice title here, hopefully my viewers' attention will be on the foreground, not little artifacts in the background.

So I think this is going to be acceptable. Now that we have our main piece of footage tracked and stretched, let's put a title on this scene and that's what we'll do in the next couple of movies.

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