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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.
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.
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