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Using the wiggle expression

From: After Effects CS5 Essential Training

Video: Using the wiggle expression

As we've seen, the expressions can be used to link properties on different layers, but expressions also understand certain commands and that's what we're going to be looking at in this movie, one command in particular that you'll probably use the most, and that is a Wiggle expression. Now, we're going to be applying this to a bunch of different fields here and seeing Wiggle work in a few different ways. So, we have here the composite that we've looked at earlier in this training series with the house blowing up. We've got some noise going on here, but the problem is that this is looking really fake because nobody would have a tripod just set up while a house would blow up and also, the video quality is really terrible. You'd probably get a better quality of picture if you'd planned ahead.

Using the wiggle expression

As we've seen, the expressions can be used to link properties on different layers, but expressions also understand certain commands and that's what we're going to be looking at in this movie, one command in particular that you'll probably use the most, and that is a Wiggle expression. Now, we're going to be applying this to a bunch of different fields here and seeing Wiggle work in a few different ways. So, we have here the composite that we've looked at earlier in this training series with the house blowing up. We've got some noise going on here, but the problem is that this is looking really fake because nobody would have a tripod just set up while a house would blow up and also, the video quality is really terrible. You'd probably get a better quality of picture if you'd planned ahead.

So, we're going to make this look even more realistic by adding some random movement, as if it was shot on a handheld camera even though it's just a still photo. So, what we're going to do is we're going to open up the camera here and we're actually going to create the Wiggle expression on the Point of Interest property. Basically, the Point of Interest is where the camera is pointed. So, as we move this around, you can see that we are moving the camera around. So, let's create the expression by Option or Alt+Clicking on the Point of Interest property for the camera. And instead of pick whipping to something else, we're just going to type the expression.

This is kind of like programming. But if you're a designer, don't worry. That is my background as well. But it's not scary. Just type in wiggle(5,10). So, the 5,10 is basically telling it how much to wiggle and how often and actually it's the opposite of that. 5 says wiggle 5 times/second. 10 gives it 10 pixels to wiggle around with. So, it's basically going to take the value that it was originally at and then wiggle 5 times per second using these particular values.

So, we can go ahead and preview this now, and it looks like it's going to be wiggling a little bit too much. So, let's go ahead and back that up and preview that. Yeah, it's a little bit too crazy. So, let's click in here and take the Wiggle, actually the amount, to about 5. So, that way, it still wiggles as often because this is a handheld shot. You'd be pretty constantly wiggling. But 5 pixels is a much smaller amount to go. So, let's give that just a second to render, just a couple of seconds here.

I'm going to hit 0 on numeric keypad to preview that again and that's looking a little bit more realistic. We might actually want to tone that down to about 3, but that's enough for right now. You get the idea of what's going on here. So, by wiggling the camera, we didn't have to move any of the layers. We just created this kind of handheld shot by wiggling the Point of Interest on the camera. Pretty cool little trick. Let's look at another example. Here we have the Explore California logo that we've been playing with. Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to select the Sun layer and I'm going to go into Color Correction in the Effects & Presets panel.

I'm going to apply the Brightness & Contrast effect. Now, typically, I would say stay away from this effect at all costs. However, since we're only applying it to a motion graphic layer of a flat color, essentially, it's okay for this once. So, what we're going to do is we're going to go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click the Brightness value in the Effect Controls panel and we can apply expressions as you've seen to Camera properties and even to Effect properties. So, anything with a keyframe can be used with expressions.

So, for the Brightness & Contrast value, I'm going to type wiggle and then in parenthesis again I'll do 5,10. Usually I start with 5,10, that's usually like a good average value that kind of gives me the neighborhood and I adjust from there. So, that's a really tacky trick. You're not going to find that in any like professional book. That's just my own rule of thumb. So, I'll click outside to accept that, and now when I preview this, we get a little bit of wiggling of the brightness of the sun, although I'm not really seeing it. Let's go ahead and solo this layer by clicking this little circle right here so we can look at just the sun.

And as we preview this, there's a little bit of wiggling going on now that we solo the layer, but if we can barely see it with the sun's soloed, then our audience isn't going to really see this. So, let's adjust that. Let's go ahead and click in here, again 5 times/second is pretty good. That's working for me. Let's go ahead and take this all the way up to 30 so 5,30, and now as we preview this, we definitely have some wiggling of the brightness of our sun and actually we might want to take down the frequency, take it down to 3 so it doesn't wiggle as often.

But then up the amount that it does wiggle once it does wiggle. Take that to 50. So, as you can see, taking it from 5,10 to 3,50 is the big jump. Let's go ahead and unsolo this. I think this is what this is needing. Here we go. So, we have a nice random variation in the brightness of our sun because we have a little bit more life. Even that might be a little bit too fast here. Maybe we can take that down to just 1 time/ second and then preview that. Yup, I like it. Maybe that's a little bit too much.

You can play with it to taste, but you get the idea. And basically, what I wanted to show you here is you can apply Wiggle or any other expression to effects' property, just like you can to camera properties, just like you can to regular layer properties. Now the final composition introduces a new concept with Wiggle. You see when we first introduced expressions earlier in this chapter and I showed you Opacity and we created the expression of Opacity and I typed in 75, it did an override of the previous value that was there, but Wiggle actually uses the current value.

So, if I select the tank layer and then press P for position and then I preview this, you can see that we already have keyframes here. We already have a motion path, and this is already going in a given direction. But I want this to be bumpy. This is too smooth as this tank goes over this hill. So, what we can do is add a Wiggle expression here and it's not going to eradicate the keyframes that are here. It's going to wiggle and maintain these keyframes. So, even though the stopwatch is pressed already, hold the Option or Alt key and click it again. And let's type wiggle and in parenthesis good old 5,10 and click away to accept it.

And it looks like this is going to be a little bit too much. And sometimes because of Auto Orientation, it will flip around. Literally, I think we just did that. Yeah, sometimes it flips around like crazy because of this. So, let's go ahead and take this down a little bit. Let's take this down to 3,3 and click away to accept it. As we preview that, you can see we have a slight wiggle and also our keyframes. So, if you have like a jet that's animating or some other characters that's moving or shaking while they're animating, you can set up the regular keyframes and then add the Wiggle expression.

And your keyframes will not be overridden, but you'll also be able to have those keyframes and the motion path as well and the slight variation that has resulted from the Wiggle expression.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS5 Essential Training
After Effects CS5 Essential Training

111 video lessons · 67662 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  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
      37s
    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
      11s

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