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Get up to speed quickly with the new features in After Effects CS6. Join veteran After Effects user Chris Meyer as he explores the key enhancements to this industry standard visual effects and motion graphics software. Chris shares creative ideas and important production advice while covering the strengths of features such as memory optimization with the new global performance cache, 3D motion tracking with the 3D Camera Tracker, and the new 3D rendering engine for ray-traced 3D rendering.
Next on our exploration of features, let's talk about CycoreFX. Their web site is cycorefx.com, and I'll click on Products. CycoreFX is a set of 61 fun effects that come with After Effects, as you see, version 6.5 through CS5.5. They are the ones that start with the letters CC. Up through CS5.5, they've all been 8-bit effects. There might have been fine a few years ago, but nowadays with film and HD work, you really should be rendering at least 16-bits per channel, just to get good quality and cut down on banding.
But previously, if you wanted that, you had to upgrade to CycoreFX HD. HD had at least 16-bit support in all effects, and quite a few of them had 32-bit floating-point support. There were also some effects inside the HD that were not in the normal CycoreFX bundle, and here's a list of some of those effects, as well a list of those that have floating-point support, those which now pick up the lights in After Effects that didn't previously, and also those that have motion blur built in. Well, as of After Effects CS6, you now get CycoreFX HD bundled with After Effects.
Yep, you get the better bit depth. Now tab back to After Effects, go to my Effects & Presets panel, drag it here so you can see it a little bit taller, type CC, and here is a list of all of the Cycore effects. And you'll notice these little numbers inside these plug-in icons. That's the bit depth of each of those effects, showing that they are indeed 16- or 32-bit. Now frankly, if you want to learn the CycoreFX, here is my hot tip: go to the CycoreFX web site, click on downloads, and in the left column click on CycoreFX HD Samples & Tutorials.
That will take you to a page that is the CycoreFX HD Manual, as well as a series of demos and tutorials to help you learn some of the effects. As long as we are playing around, let's open up a few project files and see some of these new effects. For example, let's open up that blur-shootout that I had in this project, where I have a few different box blurs: Fast Blur and Gaussian Blur. I am going to set this box blur, type F3 to see its Effects Control panel, turn it off for now, and try out this new CC Cross Blur.
Cross blurring gives you separate X-dimension blurring and Y-dimension blurring, in addition to blending modes to add them together, to get different books. There are limits to what you can see with white text, but this alone is pretty cool, to be honest. But I am going to go ahead and open blur and sharpen 01 bilateral blur, select that Comps layer, F3, turn off Bilateral Blur for now, and apply Cross Blur. Here is when you start to really see some of the fun of what you can create with this look.
Go ahead and create a little bit of two-dimensional blur--now, you get some nice crosshatching--and play around with these blending modes. Add is very bright and blows things out, but things like Multiply can create some really cool dark patterns on footage like this. Fortunately, it has repeat edge pixels as well. So that's a fun little effect. Let's go play with another one. Inside Color Correction, you'll see a demonstration comp for the Color Stabilizer effect. Select the layer, type F3.
It's a way for you to set up black point, a midpoint, and a white point and remove luminance, flickers, and variations over the life of your clip. Similar but different, CycoreFX HD or comes with something called a Color Neutralizer. It's a way of removing color tints from your footage. I want to apply that to my shot. They suggest to set it up, you turn off the effect initially, so you can see the underlying colors of your layer and choose what really should be black-- like perhaps this part of this tie--or it really should be gray.
I am going to watch my Info panel here. Pick a gradient around 128, 128, 128, somewhere around that area. Click on that and you see I have a pronounced red color shift there, and then pick what should be white, such as the brightest part of his collar here. Now when you turn on the Color Neutralizer, it removes a lot of the color tint from this shot. Before and after. You can manually set the swatches or twirl them open and set red, green, and blue for the shadows, midtones, and highlights.
There is a Blend with Original, in case you want to back off the amount of correction, and something called Pinning. Quite often when you're doing color corrections like this, you might pick a black that isn't pure black or a white that isn't pure white, and then when something changes during the footage, you might accidentally clip your shadows or highlights, resulting in a posterized look in the footage. Pinning helps scale back some of your corrections a little bit, just to get rid of some of that posterized look if you accidentally clip out your luminance. So Color Neutralizer is pretty nice. I am going to turn that off now as well.
Other than that, there is a bunch of fun effects. I personally have a guilty pleasure playing around with their Stylize Plastic effect. You may remember Glass, which created this very strange, warped look to footage, Plastic gives that infamous shrink wrap wrapped in plastic, or sort of plastic embossed sort of look to footage. You do have a lot of control over Surface Bump, Lighting, and Shading, but it's a way of creating a more of a graphical look quickly out of a piece of video.
There are some very natural phenomenon and Generate plug-ins like Threads, which you might think are like fine threads, actually create a woven overlay for your footage. A bit odd, but it's kind of fun actually, what the pattern is for how often things overlap, width and height, how tightly things are spaced. It's a fun, simple way of stylizing a background--again, good for graphical treatments. I'll turn that off. There's a few new Simulation effects, including Rainfall, falling rain, turn that off, and Snowfall.
Now, I live up by the mountains where we get snow which is usually a lot heavier than that, so I find I tend to really crank up the number of flakes and crank up their size to get more like what we see up here in the mountains. Yeah, that looks like what we are expecting this coming weekend actually. Anyway. There is also some Transition effects. I'll dive into the Transition folder here, Transition Extras, and what shall I open here? Let's go ahead and open up this gradient wipe workout just because it gives me two layers. I'll select the layer on top. Temporarily turn off the gradient wipe. There is an effect in the Stylize category that actually is a transition called Block Load, which is a way to bring on a footage as if it's scanned and then reduce its pixelation.
Sort of like a low-res to high-res look. You can have a very pixelated look or create something that's more of a JPEGy sort of look as well. Yep, we are actually trying to make footage look like it's been JPEGed. Anyway some additional transitions are Line Sweep, which bring on things, lines at a time. You can set this to a fairly small thickness and a fairly high overlap. It creates a nice little wiping-on transitions that way.
And there is the very strange twisted WarpoMatic, which is a way of transitioning between two different layers. The default settings are actually pretty tame. I like to personally crank this up with a lot more warpage to it, react to something like contrast differences, and now you get a very psychedelic transition between your footage. And obviously, there is a lot more in this package, but those are some that I've had fun playing with.
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