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In this installment of After Effects Apprentice, Chris Meyer focuses on ways to edit and enhance layers in After Effects. Through a series of Quizzler challenges and Idea Corner examples, Chris shares alternative ways to employ modes, sequencing, and adjustment layers, while special sidebar movies cover the subjects of creating seamless loops, animating effects points, understanding pixel aspect ratios, and employing Brainstorm to explore the variety of different looks that effects can create. The course also covers tricks for enhancing boring footage and tips for converting scans into moving sequences. Exercise files are included with the course.
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®.
In the next few movies I would like to show you a little bit more about applying effects and how to use effects presets. I want to go ahead and do a Close All again just to clean up my display and if you have the Exercise Files that come with this lesson I'm going to open up the comp 10-Adobe's Preset*starter. If you're following along using the After Effects Apprentice book, I'm going to go through these things in a little different order than they are in the book, but I am going to cover the exact same concepts. If you don't have the Exercise Files, just create a comp with a piece of footage for now and we'll play around with that.
There are two ways to apply effects to a selected layer or layers in After Effects. One is to use the Effect menu. It does give a nice hierarchical menu of all these different effects. The problem with this menu is that if you have a very specific effect you know you want to use but you can't remember which category or submenu that it's in, you can spend a fair amount of time trying to find it by going through these different categories and things could change between versions every now and then too. Sometimes things are in the Channel menu; sometimes they are in the Color Correction menu.
You can waste a bit of time. That's why we prefer using the Effects and Presets panel. It's part of the standard workspace. If you cannot see this panel, just open it underneath the Window menu item. There it is, Effects and Presets. Command +5 or Ctrl+5 is the shortcut to open it. You might have noticed that we're already been using Effects and Presets to search for Effects. Click the X at the top of this Quick Search dialog to clear out the previous search and now you'll see the same categories as I had before.
Since the Effects and Presets panel tends to be a pretty long panel with a lot of information, if I have the screen real estate, I leave and drag it out to its own frame with more height so it's easier to see. I'm initially presented with the same categories that I get underneath the Effect menu. I have some control over how these are displayed. I can sort by categories or by the folders that the effects are contained in actually in my Finder or Explorer or in alphabetical order if that's what I prefer.
Alphabetical shows me all of the Effects and all of the Presents without any folder distinctions. I'll go back to Categories for now. To see the contents just twirl open and see what effects are underneath the category. There is also this folder called Animation Presets. Animation Presets contain different configurations of effects, transformations, keyframes, etcetera. This is something we're going to dealing with a lot more in the next two movies. Now let's get back to our initial problem.
Let's say we cannot remember what category an effect is in. For example, the Invert effect. Well, all I need to do is click in this Quick Search dialog and start typing the name. Immediately, After Effects starts sorting until I get down to any animation presets or effect that includes the characters that I'm typing up here in Quick Search. If all you're interested in right now are effects, not presets, you can clean up your display in Effects and Presets by clicking on the Options menu for the Effects and Presets panel and turning off Show Animation Presets.
Now we've cleaned up to just the effects and there is Invert. You can drag effects over the Comp panel and apply them to piece of footage or if you already have footage selected just double-click it and it will applied to any layers that are already selected in the Timeline panel. Now undo to get out of here. Let's say you want to see every Blur effect you own. Type Blur. Now I've got all of the effects that include the word blur in their name. Most are underneath the Blur & Sharpen category, but as you see here there is one in the Time category as well.
Maybe color correction, just type Color. Now you see the color effects are spread across Channel, Color Correction, Expression Controls, Generate, Keying, Stylize, Synthetic, Aperture's own Color Finesse, a great color correction effect, and Utility. Now you can really see where this search dialog comes in handy. You can find effects regardless of what category they happen to be sorted into. A lot of users just use the Effects and Presets panel all the time. They don't even bother with the Effect menu. I'll clear my search. Now in general whenever you apply an effect, we strongly recommend going away from the default parameters.
I mean quite often when you apply an effect to footage, it may do nothing at all and you have to edit the parameters. However, it can be hard to master every single effect particularly if you are new with After Effects. Therefore, you might want to start out by taking advantage of the hundreds of effects and animation presets that Adobe ships with After Effects, and that's what we're going to explore in the next movie.
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