After Effects CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Using Glow


After Effects CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

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Video: Using Glow

No matter what your role is in the world of After Effects, you'll probably find yourself using glow quite often. Glow does a lot of stuff. If you're used to something like Photoshop where glow creates an outer glow around an object, it's kind of like a very 1990s look, still used, with tact, at certain places or whatever, but this glow effect in After Effects does much more than this. We are going to look at a couple of different examples here. Our first example is this cool footage. I love this shot. I love the colors. I love this biker guy. He's like silhouetted, just beautiful footage.
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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

Using Glow

No matter what your role is in the world of After Effects, you'll probably find yourself using glow quite often. Glow does a lot of stuff. If you're used to something like Photoshop where glow creates an outer glow around an object, it's kind of like a very 1990s look, still used, with tact, at certain places or whatever, but this glow effect in After Effects does much more than this. We are going to look at a couple of different examples here. Our first example is this cool footage. I love this shot. I love the colors. I love this biker guy. He's like silhouetted, just beautiful footage.

But what we want to do is exaggerate the beauty that's already here. So, we're going to do that with the Glow effect. Go to Effects and Presets, do a search for Glow, and you might have some animation presets that pop-up. But we're looking for the Glow that's in the Stylize category. So, I'm just going to grab Glow and drag and drop it onto my footage. Now glow is one of those effects that needs tweaking. So, I want to give you, basically some insight into the top three parameters here, the ones at the top. And these are the ones that you'll use most with the Glow effect.

The first one is Glow Threshold. As we take this down, we are increasing the amount of brightness that a picture will need to have to have glow applied to it. So, basically the higher the number, the less stuff gets glowed. If you had like a sparkle, like from diamonds, or in this case, maybe, like the sparkle of the top of the water. In those cases, if you just want to make those things come out a little bit more, you might want to set the Glow Threshold up pretty high. If you wanted to add, like a diffused glow, like a soft glow to everything in your in image then you'd want to take this down pretty low.

Now, before you start thinking that you will never use this because it looks so terrible, I'll just go ahead and click in this field and type in 70. That's the value we're going to use there. I realize this is still far too overdone. It looks terrible, but what we're going to do is we are going to take the Glow Radius up, and we are going to increase that value. The Glow Radius is the amount of blur applied to the glow. So, if we take this down to 0, you see that we basically have added glow to all these individual pixels, and they've kind of basically lit up. But it definitely looks better if we add a little bit of Glow Radius, and you could that that blur is being applied to the glow, and the glow is just kind of softening out.

In our case, we're going to click in Glow Radius and take this down to a value of 30. Now, I actually like the way this looked with a really high Glow value. That looked pretty sweet. So, if this the way you wanted to have things, that's totally cool and even then you can see the before, and the after - definitely much more full of life after. For me, this is still little heavy- handed, a little bit too intense, although I do like the way this guy seems to have a halo of glow around him, which is a very kind of realistic- looking effect. But still, I'm going to Glow Radius down to 30. Next, we have the Glow Intensity.

Now this really is the key. And it seems like it's set to a very low value of 1, but for this parameter 1 is actually a lot. So, if we took this down to like 0.3 - just type in 0.3 on your keyboard and hit Enter - you could see that this takes it down considerably. So, if you were to click and scrub on this, even a Glow Intensity value of a 10th of 1 value is still a lot. So, again, take is down to 0.3 and you'll see here that the result is much more of a nice, subtle glow. A subtle effect is what we're looking for.

And it almost seems like we didn't even do anything to it, which is actually usually when are processing an image, and you want to look realistic. That's what you're going for. You want to make it look like you're an invisible hand magically beautifying your images and that no one can tell what you did. So, you click the fx icon. Here is the before and after - what a difference. So, this is still very beautiful, but you add some glow, and it just adds a great additional beauty to what you already had. Now this is great, for example, for visual effects.

If you have a volcano or a fire or lightning or something like that, glow can really bring out the vibrance, the intensity of those colors. If you had a woman with some soft focus and some beautiful highlights in her hair, glow can exaggerate that as well. So, the possibilities are endless with this effect if we switch over to the More Glow composition. Another example of what you can do with Glow is to colorize motion graphics. So, this is kind of like this really intense look here. But if I turn off the visibility of this Adjustment layer, the top layer here, which I'll explain what these are later in this training series, but if you click that Eye icon, this is what the layers are initially- just some lines with some blur. And with one copy of the Glow effect, we bring this much life to it.

So, if we open up the Glow Effect, you could see that we have this really cool parameter here, Glow Colors. If you select Original Colors, which is basically the default setting, then it will take the colors, like we did with the Glow Start comp here, it took the original colors, and it added the glow based on whatever colors were originally there. In the case of the More Glow composition, our Original Colors were just black-and-white, so Original wouldn't have worked. So, we changed Glow Colors to A & B Colors, and then we changed Color A to orange and Color B to red, and that creates this cool kind of fiery glow.

So, in this case, we use the Glow Effect not only to add glow but also to add color. Glow is perhaps one of the most used effects in 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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