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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding animation paths


From:

After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson
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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 15s
    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 21s
    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 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    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 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    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

Video: Understanding animation paths

When you create animations with Position keyframes, when you have the layers selected, you may notice this line that pops up in your viewer. This line is letting you know that there is spatial data and Position keyframes set on your canvas. Even though it's a visual representation of what's going on, it's also another way to control your animations. So let me show you exactly what I'm talking about. If we scrub back through here, you notice, okay, well, I've got a box here and I've got these dots moving along, and here I'll just move up a second, and you can see I have a second box there.

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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
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Understanding animation paths

When you create animations with Position keyframes, when you have the layers selected, you may notice this line that pops up in your viewer. This line is letting you know that there is spatial data and Position keyframes set on your canvas. Even though it's a visual representation of what's going on, it's also another way to control your animations. So let me show you exactly what I'm talking about. If we scrub back through here, you notice, okay, well, I've got a box here and I've got these dots moving along, and here I'll just move up a second, and you can see I have a second box there.

Each one of these is actually one of the keyframes. You can click directly on the boxes and move them around and notice down here, my Position data is changing, because I'm actually moving that keyframe. Let me just undo that last move. You also have Bezier handles on these lines as well, and they're kind of hard to see. So what I'm going to do is actually create a curvy animation here and then I'll show you the handles. So if I want this object to start up here and then kind of curve out here and then come back down, it might make sense to move your playhead kind of in the middle where you'd want the new keyframe to be set, and just move the shape.

So you want to do that, and now I can more clearly see the Bezier handles. So if you just click and drag, notice now I'm changing the motion path of this object. If we preview this, you'll notice it's not the smoothest animation. Let me just stop playback there. Since you have these Bezier handles, as a general rule, whenever you're trying to create a path that kind of has curves, you want to do it with as few keyframes as possible. It's just going to make things move that much more smoothly.

So let's actually select this middle keyframe and press Delete. Now if I click directly on one of the keyframes, I can adjust the Bezier handles, and notice I can still get kind of a nice S curve just by adjusting the motion path. If we add Ease on the beginning and the end of these, you can accentuate the motion and the velocity making the little dots along the line here change in their space. But for now let's check this animation out.

So as you can see it's much more smooth. But I know you're thinking to yourself, well, what if I want to actually have, I don't know, a complex path? Like, what if I want this to move in a perfect circle? Well I'm not going to sit there and try and frame out each individual section of the animation and then make a perfect circle. That would take forever. But what you can do is actually use any masks or any paths, like straight out of Illustrator, or Photoshop, or even here on my background gradient; if I press M, I can open up my Masks and here you can see out the Mask Path that I have already drawn.

I drew it with the Ellipse tool up here. This mask isn't doing anything, because it's set to do nothing at the None setting. So what I can do is actually select this Mask Path if I want, let's say, this object to move on this circle. So when I select it, I can go up under Edit and choose Copy, and now let's select the blue shape and instead of having it travel along this path, let's delete those Position keyframes, and I'll move my current-time indicator to the beginning of the timeline and press Command+V, which is Paste.

Now since I had Position-selected it, it automatically placed that animation as Position keyframes and you'll notice it created several keyframes. And notice I have a linear keyframe here and a linear keyframe here. If I just click on one of them I can stretch out the keyframes, because these ones in-between here are roving keyframes. And if you need a refresher on all the different kinds of keyframes, definitely go back and watch the first video on this chapter. But as you can see, when you paste animation paths you can actually create custom animations relatively quickly.

Now there's one last tip I want to give you when you're pasting animation paths. Instead of pasting it directly to the object, you might want to try pasting to a Null Object. Let me show you what I'm talking about. Let's delete these Position keyframes for this blue shape. I'm going to go up under Layer and choose New Null Object. Now open the Position data for this Null Object by pressing P, and then select the position and press Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste those keyframes.

Now the Null Object is going to travel along this path. What this does, it allows me to take this blue object and make it the child of the Null. So select the blue layer and grab your pick whip under the Parent section. If you don't see Parent in your timeline, right-click up in this gray bar and go to Columns and make sure it's active. I'm going to click on the pick whip and point it up to Null 2. Notice the Null is going to move, but now also my shape is moving.

What this is going to allow me to do--I can move my current-time indicator to let's say, the left side of the circle, and now I can actually start offsetting the motion of this animation. So for example, if I wanted this to drift to the left I could just click and drag on the X parameter to the left and set my first keyframe. Now if we rewind back to the top, it's kind of offset. So I just want to set that back to 0. So now as it travels along the path it's going to kind of spin out sideways.

So we could go around and continue adding that to the other parts of the path, but what I want to do is just deselect a layer and preview our animation. So as you can see it's drifting off the path. If you want to see it a little bit better, go ahead and select your Position keyframes. That way when you scrub through the timeline here, you can see how it's drifting off the path. Now I definitely encourage you to keep going through this and making adjustments to your blue shape just so you can kind of get a better grasp on how much extra control you can get by using custom animation paths and parenting with a Null Object.

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