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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.
When your projects are becoming more complex kind of like this motion graphics project here, where there's a bunch of like swirly lines in the background and some gradients going on, and then as I drag my current time indicator here, you can see that these lines are all moving around. And then a whip of light comes in and makes this text appear and there is a bunch of sparkles and stuff, and then the text kind of drifts and glows a little bit and then fades away or something. A lot going on here, and when you have a project this complex previewing can be a real chore. Once my Current Time Indicator lands on a single frame, you could that it took a several seconds to render just this one frame.
And so if I were to do a RAM Preview of this, it would start from the very beginning when there was nothing onscreen and take several frames and then get to the real meat of what's going on. Well if I wanted to focus on this critical part where this whip of light comes in and makes this text appear then I would want to use something called a work area, so I could preview just this space and not a bunch of stuff before and after it, that I don't really care about right now. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to back up to about right here and that's frame 28 and I'm going to drag this bar right here now.
This kind of disguises itself as part of the interface, but it's not. If I grab this yellow bar at the left- hand side and to drag this in, you can see that it's now showing us that there is this highlighted area and a non-highlighted area and so that gives us an indication throughout the timeline of where the work area starts and where there's an area before the work area. So, I'm going to drag over here, and I might find a place in time, right about there is after the whip has already hit the text on, so I can grab the end of this bar and drag it to my Current Time Indicator.
Now when I press zero on the numeric keypad in order to create a RAM Preview, you'll notice that it's not starting from the beginning of a composition. Only from the beginning of the work area. And once it's finished loading all these frames into RAM, then it previews just that area in the work area and all this is cached into RAM. And I could really focus my time and effort and attention on just this one little segment of my animation. Again, as with most features in this chapter, if you're brand new to After Effects, it may seem like this is really an unnecessary feature, but I don't think I've ever worked a day in After Effects or even an hour in After Effects and not used the Work Area bar.
So, this is one you'll definitely want to be familiar with. Here's some shortcuts to make working with the Work Area bar little bit more efficient. If we double-click the Work Area bar, it resets itself and makes itself the entire area of the composition again. And if I go to the spot right here, and I know that I want to start my Current Time Indicator here, and press the B on the keyboard for the beginning of the work area. Likewise, the keyboard shortcut is the letter N to set the end of the work area. And so that's where you could like while you are working, if you decide, oh, you know this is the frame that I want to set as the end of my work area, just press the letter N, and the Work Area bar will jump to the Current Time Ibdicator there.
Now earlier in this training series we have talked about how the Home key will take you to the first frame of the composition; the End key will jump you to the end of the composition. If you hold the Shift key then that will apply to only the work area. So, Shift+Home will take you to the beginning of the work area and Shift+End will take you to the end of the work area. Now one other cool aspects of the Work Area bar that we'll see at the end of this training series when we talk about Rendering and Output is that you can actually choose to render just the Work Area bar. So, if you want to kind of do a test render just to see how things are or just to test something on a monitor or screen or a DVD, you don't have to render the entire composition.
You could render just the Work Area bar, which again makes this feature extremely useful.
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