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Understanding the properties of video


After Effects CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

Video: Understanding the properties of video

In this movie, we're going to look at some essential concepts when working with video. Remember that After Effects is, at its heart - even though it does all kind of cool things - it really is a video program. And so a lot of the challenges that you will face and need to overcome and a lot of the problems you'll need to troubleshoot are related to this idea of video. So, knowing about these factors, like the Pixel Aspect Ratio, Frame Rate, Timecode, all these different things will really help you in your work. That being said, and if I'm being completely honest with you, this discussion is not a particularly a interesting or a fun one.
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  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS5 Essential Training
8h 39m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the After Effects workflow
  • Precomposing footage
  • Explaining the basics and beyond of animating
  • Creating glows, patterns, textures, and more with effects
  • Color correcting footage
  • Working with text
  • Manipulating video playback speed
  • Masking objects and shape layers
  • Removing backgrounds with keying
  • Compositing multiple pieces of footage
  • Integrating After Effects with the rest of the Creative Suite
After Effects
Chad Perkins

Understanding the properties of video

In this movie, we're going to look at some essential concepts when working with video. Remember that After Effects is, at its heart - even though it does all kind of cool things - it really is a video program. And so a lot of the challenges that you will face and need to overcome and a lot of the problems you'll need to troubleshoot are related to this idea of video. So, knowing about these factors, like the Pixel Aspect Ratio, Frame Rate, Timecode, all these different things will really help you in your work. That being said, and if I'm being completely honest with you, this discussion is not a particularly a interesting or a fun one.

So, if you need to use this movie as kind of like the reference in this title where you keep coming back as you get stumped then please do that, but just know these concepts are absolutely vital even though they are a little dry and boring. So, let's first talk about Timecode. We could see this time display here in the left side of the Timeline. And as we move in time, we see this value change. So, here is how this is broken up. There's basically four categories here divided by colons or sometimes you might see semicolons there.

Essentially, the way that this is divided up is hours. That's our first digit, hours, then minutes, than seconds, then individual frames. Now, if you're new to the world of video, it's important to know that video is nothing more than a series of still pictures played back really fast, kind of like those flipbooks you used to use when you were a kid where you'd draw little pictures on each page and then flip them and make a little cartoon. It's essentially what video is. It's just a series of still pictures. We call those pictures frames, and we have a certain number of frames per second.

And we're going to get into that in just a moment. But that is what is the deal with timecode. You can also click on the time indicator here if you'd like to scrub time that way, or if you have a list with some timecode that you need to jump to a particular frame, you can click this here. And let's say I want to go to 5 seconds and 10 frames. I can just type in 05:10 there, hit Enter and my Current Time Indicator jumps to the exact time. Now, we're actually going to use the Composition Settings dialog box that's kind of a visual aid as we go through some of these settings.

But I don't want to create a new composition. I want to adjust the properties of the current composition. The way to do that is to select the composition, go to the flyout menu over here on the far right-hand side of the Timeline panel and then choose Composition Settings. Alternatively, you could use the keyboard shortcut Command+K or Ctrl+K on the PC. And actually, I find myself changing Composition Settings like duration and the things like that all the time. So, it's a good one to memorize. So, I'll open up Composition Settings here.

We've talked about Presets. And if you're going to be doing something for a particular medium, especially television, then I recommend using one of these settings here. Now, it's a really good idea, no matter what you're outputting to, like if you're going to do something for the Web or whatever, create a composition based on your source material, your original footage. So, for example, let's say you have a really nice video camera or footage from a really nice video camera that was shot in HD, but you were putting it to the Web.

That's fine, but your composition should still match our footage. You should still have a high- definition composition and your working environment should be in HD. And then when you output, you'd output to a lower medium, just kind of shrink it down on export. Now standard video, if I go up to NTSC DV, standard definition is 720 pixels wide by 480 pixels high. High-definition essentially has two flavors. We have 720, which is 1280x1024, and then we also have a full HD, which is 1080.

Oftentimes, this is 1920X1080. The reason why this Preset is an HD Preset and is 1080 high but only 1441 is because of something called the Pixel Aspect Ratio, and that is right here in this dropdown. You see when you're working on a computer, pixels are square. They're just as tall as they are wide. But when you're dealing with television, pixels oftentimes are not square. They are maybe a little bit wider than they are tall and sometimes a little bit more tall than they are wide.

So, if we're going to choose, for example, NTSC DV, this is standard definition television, and the Pixel Aspect Ratio is .91. What that means is it's a little bit more tall than it is wide. If we were going to choose a widescreen - so this is a standard definition but Widescreen - you might think that there would be more pixels to the Width, but there is not. The only difference between regular standard definition and widescreen standard definition is the Pixel Aspect Ratio. It's wider than it is tall for a widescreen.

As you move forward in your After Effects career, you'll want to be careful about Pixel Aspect Ratio. If you do not match up correctly your Pixel Aspect Ratios with your footage and with your output device, then you will oftentimes have footage that is stretched too wide. Oftentimes, if you stay up too late - and I'm guilty of this quite often, actually - you watch late-night TV, like the homemade commercials from like Sam's local car shop or whatever, you will often have poor production quality, and they won't get the Pixel Aspect Ratios right. So, it'll be weird.

It might be stretched a little bit too wide, or it might be like stretched a little bit too skinny and tall, and that's oftentimes the result of not getting the correct Pixel Aspect Ratio. Frame Rate is basically as we've talked about what frames are, Frame Rate is the speed at which those frames happen. Thankfully, there are some standards out there. If you're dealing with standard definition television, it's 29.97. It's important to know that it's not 30. For some reason video, it's like a 100th of a percent. I think my math is right on that. It's like a hundredth of a percent off from the exact Frame Rate.

So, this is 30 -.03. Instead of doing 24, we would do 23.976, which is 24 -.024. Now 29.97 is the standard Frame Rate for the NTSC system. That's basically the broadcast standards used in North America, Japan and few other places as well. A lot of the world uses the PAL system, P-A-L, and that Frame Rate is 25 frames per second. This is the standard in Europe and in many other places around the world.

If you're dealing with film, 24 frames per second is the standard. Or if you are working with video that is approximating film, then 23.976 is the Frame Rate there. If you're dealing with HD, PAL HD goes to 50 frames per second and NTSC Frame Rates for HD video can go up to 60 frames per second. If you're doing something for the web, you might want a slower Frame Rate, because that's going to affect how fast people are able to download your content. If you have a full 30 frames per second or 29.97 frames per second, then it's going to be harder for your users to download all of those frames.

So, it's better to have it a little bit choppier, so the user has a better experience. Oftentimes, 15 frames per second is the way to go there. Now one other thing here. We've already talked about Timecode. But here at the bottom of the Composition Settings panel - this is in this duration area - this is where you set the length of the composition. And right now, this Composition is set to 54 seconds long, so again, hours, minutes, seconds, frames. Let's say I wanted to set this to, I don't know, 15 frames. You might think that I have to go like this and just like select those little things and just type 15.

But this little dialog box, or this little area right here, this field is actually pretty intelligent. So, I'm going to select all of this. I just type 15, and as you can see here, that's translated to 15 frames. It understands if you just type two numbers, that you're talking about a number of frames. If I type in 115, then it goes over another place, and this turns into 1 second and 15 frames. You don't have to constantly worry about typing the colons or semicolons or what have you. You can just simply type these three numbers, and also let's say if you want to make something that was five minutes long, you can just type in 5 and then hit the period key, and that jumps you over one spot.

So, now where it was 5 frames is now 5 seconds. And if you hit the period key again, that becomes about 5 minutes. So, there are some cool tricks with creating the duration of your composition. Now, this little video principles boot camp certainly is not exhaustive as far as video concepts that you'll need to know. But these are kind of the basics, kind of what you need to really be successful, at least getting started, with After Effects.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: In the "Creating a fireball" movie in Chapter 6, the author showed how to make a fireball. Unfortunately, it all centered around a blob layer that he made without showing how to make a blob layer. How does one go about creating a blob layer like the one used in the video?
A: To create a blob layer, make a shape layer using the Pen tool. Animate the anchor points over time to make it move. These concepts are reviewed in depth in Chapter 4, "Learning to Animate."
Q: In the Chapter 5 video "Understanding precomposing," the exercise file provided does not seem to match up with the file the instructor uses. My file does not include a "Biker Body" layer. Is there an error in the exercise file?
A: Unfortunately, the exercise file originally distributed for this chapter was incorrect. A new file was issued in February 2011. If you downloaded the exercise files prior to then, you can download the corrected file on the Exercise Files tab of the course page.
Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

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