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Parenting is a way to group multiple layers within the same composition inside After Effects. In this course, Chris Meyer shows how to set up a parenting chain, discusses what makes a good parent, and demonstrates several techniques using parenting, such as creating a title animation with a minimal number of keyframes, building a geometric construct, and bringing an anthropomorphic robot arm to life. Sidebar topics include avoiding a scaling gotcha with parenting and creating abstract backgrounds using the Fractal Noise effect.
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®.
Okay. That's one example of Fractal Noise. I am going to turn that layer off for now, go back to the start of the composition, and create a brand new solid to create a different Fractal Noise effect. So I am going to call this fractal noise blocky. It's the size of my composition. And just to keep things clear I am going to change the name of my first example to soft and change the name of my composition to something more generic, like examples.
Selected my blocky layer and I will apply Effect > Fractal Noise again. This time I will try out different settings for Fractal Type and Noise Type. You may remember when we played around with Noise Type there was one called Block and this is a great head start for that very geometric square-base pattern we saw earlier. Now that I have got that basic noise type, I can try different fractal types to see what sort of contrast do they give me. Basic gives me some pretty sharp contrast here. Max gives me something that's just very, very plain, very little detail. Cloudy gives me something that's very bright and blown out.
I happen to find that threads gives me a nice low contrast subtle blend of colors. If I want to increase the contrast, I just increase the Contrast value, just to get some more high values back in. Now even though we've chosen a noise type of Blocks we still have a very cloudy sort of pattern and again this is because Complexity is a bit on the high side. Having a high Complexity is great if you're trying to do things like plasma rays, fire, things that have a lot of detail to them. But when you're trying to create background elements, sometimes simpler is better.
To really understand what's happening with this block type, I am going to turn Complexity all the way down to value of 2 to where there is just 2 layers of Fractal Noise. This will give me a good opportunity to explore the Sub Settings. As I mentioned earlier, Sub Scaling is how much each subsequent layer of noise is being scaled down. So I chose 50%, my next layer of noise is half the size or twice the detail of my original layer. I can now use my Sub Offset to carefully line up these different layers of noise.
Maybe over there and maybe over there and Sub Influence again is the mixture. Again, to show you what's going on I will put Complexity down to 1, 1 layer, there is my basic block. 2, 2 layers, one-half the size of the other. 3 will go down and size it again and now you see it get a lot more detail back in this. So you get an idea of what's going on here. Again, Sub Influence is how those sub-layers are mixed together. You can go for a really neat aligned appearance like this or if you want to loosen things up, you can go ahead and take the Sub Scaling off of a perfect number, like say even just like 51 or 52 to where things don't quite line up and you've introduced some imperfections into the square pattern. Likewise you can go ahead and play around with the Sub Offset. Go ahead and change how things line up, so there is some alignment, but some misalignments, a mixture of order and chaos.
You have the same options to animate this. For example I can use Evolution again. I will enable keyframing. Press N to go to the End. Press Page Down to go one frame past the end to create a seamless loop. Maybe I will create a slow evolution, just one revolution. Go back home, twirl-down Evolution Options, and enable Cycle Evolution as well so it's seamless, and press 0 to RAM preview. Now that it's calculated, you can now see my pattern of these square blocks fading in and out over time.
If you want to align the grid better to your frame, you have other options. In addition to the Sub Settings, you can go back to Transform, you can go ahead and scale things up or down to try to make them match your edges a little bit, and maybe use a little bit of Offset position to go ahead and frame it better. Maybe over there, a little bit of Scale. And if I need to I can even turn off Uniform Scaling and scale differently in the X and Y. Back over a little bit there. I will increase the Contrast now just get some bright areas back and as I showed you earlier to go ahead and tint this, I can go ahead and apply Color Correction, something like Tritone.
Change my Midtones. Decide what color I would like. Something like this blue or purple might be nice. And I can combine multiple layers of this fractal effect. I'll put the soft layer back on top, enable it, and rather than using it in its normal state, I will turn its blending mode into Overlay. This way I will brighten or darken the underlying layer based on the pattern to my Fractal Noise around top. Without my lighting layer, with. 0 to RAM preview and you will see that in addition to having the square block animation we also have some light and dark areas traveling throughout this thanks to the fractal noise soft layer on top.
So those are a couple of quick ways you can use Fractal Noise to create random backgrounds. You may not necessarily use these elements on their own, but they create nice eye candy to blend into other layers to give them certain impressions for certain fields.
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