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Let Chris and Trish Meyer share with you two of the core secrets required to become an efficient After Effects user: understanding the render order (the internal order of operations After Effects uses when calculating masks, effects, transformation, track mattes, and layer styles) and the use of multiple compositions where a composition may be nested into one or more other comps. This makes it easier to group layers, efficiently re-use a common element to quickly accommodate client changes, pan around large composites of multiple layers, and solve render order issues.
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®.
To recap our dilemma with Continuous Rasterization turned off for this vector-based layer transformations occurring after effects, and that means the rotation and the scale are happening after the bevel alpha and the drop shadow. The good things are the Drop Shadow distance and the Bevel Alpha size are both being scaled up along with the layer. The negatives are the Bevel Alpha angle and the Drop Shadow angle are being rotated as the layer is being rotated. If we enable Continuous Rasterization for this vector-based layer, transforms are occurring before effects, and now rotation is happening before the effects are applied which is a good thing for the drop shadow and bevel alpha direction. But it's a bad thing for the size of the bevel alpha compared to the ever-expanding type and for the drop shadow distance. You can use precomposing to solve some of these problems, but in this movie we're going to use the Transform effect which is a different solution. I'm going to show you two different ways of solving this problem, so I'm going to duplicate the Rasterization composition so I have two different examples to work on. Our first approach is going to be using the Transform effect without Continuous Rasterization. So I actually turn Continuous Rasterization off for this layer. Now having the scale happen after the effects was desirable, except for them getting soft at the end, but having rotation happen after the effects was not desirable. So I'm going to go back to my starting point, turn off my animation for rotation, and instead apply Effect > Distort > Transform. Transform is an effect that replicates the transform section in the timeline and more. And what's really cool is that it's an effect you can reorder in relation to other effects. So I'm going to apply Transform and I'm going to drag it before Bevel Alpha and Drop Shadow. Now, if I keyframe Rotation in the Transform effect, I press N and enter one revolution. This rotation will happen before my effects, and as a result the Bevel direction and the Shadow direction stay consistent throughout the animation. It all comes down to managing render order. The Rotation is happening in an effect before my other effects, then my scaling is happening down at the Transform section after the effects. So it's one solution, although we do have a little bit of problem with softness, and this is an example where we might want to use Continuous Rasterization to keep this Illustrator vector-based layer sharp, even as we scale up above 100%. I'm going to go back to my Comp panel, open up that comp I duplicated earlier, and let's look at this again. Having the Scale occur first, because this layer is continuously rasterized, is a good thing. It scales up the vectors and then converts into pixels as necessary to create the optimal resolution. So I'm going to go to the end my comp where the scale is at its largest, then turn off the Scale animation in the normal Transform section. I'm just going to keep it fixed at this large 150% where I get my sharp type. Now having rotation occur before the effects is a good thing, the drop shadow and bevels to keep the correct direction throughout. And again that only happens because Continuous Rasterization is enabled. So how can we otherwise perform this scale? Well, this is where we go rely on our new friend, the Transform effect. Our desire is to have the scaling happen after the Bevel Alpha and Drop Shadow effect. That way the size of the bevel and the distance of the drop shadow will be scaled along with the rest of the layer. So I'm going to keep my Transform effect after those other two effects, enable Scaling, ending at 100%, the Transform effect works on pixels and just like with a normal transform on a normal pixel-based layer you don't want to go above a 100% scale otherwise you'll be blowing up pixels and making things go fuzzy, and then when I go back to my start and decide how small I need this layer to be match. Now before I was scaling from 10% to 150%. Now the 150% scale is being done ahead of time by the normal Transform section on those vectors. So in the effect I need to do a little bit of math. I need to scale by 10% over 150%, the ratio between the smallest and largest sizes, and since I want to convert that final number into a percentage scale, I need to go times 100, times 100%. When I press Enter, After Effects does the math for me and it says result is 6.6667%. And you will see that these two layers now look the same size at their smallest. You could also just eyeball it but I kind of like to use math sometimes to help me out, just to make sure my eyes aren't lying to me. Now the layer has been pre-scaled to 150%, the vectors are being rotated, and then this being converted to pixels, we have the Bevel Alpha effect, followed by the Drop Shadow effect, followed by the Transform which is scaling up the layer. And the result is that drop shadow and bevel keeping the right relative size and keeping the right direction while the text remains sharp. This is the best of all possible worlds. I might need to go ahead and tweak out the drop shadow and bevel alpha a little bit, just to get that final size I desire, like around there on the bevel, and little more Drop Shadow distance like around, there to get a nice fall away. But since the Transform effect is scaling them after they've had their chance to work on the pixels, everybody keeps the same relative size during the scale. So that's Continuous Rasterization, a very important tool particularly when you're scaling above 100% or you want to rewire the rendering order, and the Transform effect which gives you a way to manually rewire the order of things are rendered.
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