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In this installment of After Effects Apprentice, Chris Meyer focuses on ways to edit and enhance layers in After Effects. Through a series of Quizzler challenges and Idea Corner examples, Chris shares alternative ways to employ modes, sequencing, and adjustment layers, while special sidebar movies cover the subjects of creating seamless loops, animating effects points, understanding pixel aspect ratios, and employing Brainstorm to explore the variety of different looks that effects can create. The course also covers tricks for enhancing boring footage and tips for converting scans into moving sequences. Exercise files are included with the course.
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®.
Earlier in this lesson, we played around with effects like the Lens Flare and showed that it was possible to reposition the flare center. Whenever an effect has a position value like this, it's referred to as an effect point. You can animate effect points, but how you do it is a little bit tricky. If you worked your way through the Advanced Animation lesson, you may remember that you can edit position motion paths directly in the Composition panel. However, the anchor point path that you had to edit in the Layer panel.
Well, it's the same thing with effect points. Even though you can pick them up and move them directly in the Comp panel, if you want to animate them, you can only see their path in the Layer panel. Now earlier, we advocated putting the lens flare on its own solid, not on the footage you wish to treat. So if I want to see my motion path in context with my footage, I want to see my Layer panel and my Comp panel at the same time. Well, that's easy enough. I am going to double-click the flare solid. So I have got the Layer panel open. I am going to drag it to the right here and dock it to the right of this frame.
So now I have got the Comp panel and the Layer panel side-by-side. Now, of course, if I've applied an effect directly to footage, I don't need to do this two-window dance. I can do everything directly in the Layer panel, because I'll see the layer that the effects are going to apply to. The next thing I am going to do is I am going to change my View pop-up. I am going to give myself a bit more space here, and I want to view the Lens Flare effect. That's who I want control over. There is the lens flare and here is how it looks in context. By the way, with the View pop-up, you can say let me see after Hue/Saturation.
And let me see it after Levels, which is currently turned off. I can turn it back on and change its value for now. Anyway, I want to work with Lens Flare. Notice that by dragging the Layer panel, the Comp panel updates automatically. So let's say I have decided that I want this flare to follow the freeway. I am going to move it so that it lines up at the beginning of the freeway. Move my Current Time Indicator to the start of my comp. The shortcut for that is the Home key. I am going to turn on the animation stopwatch for Flare Center.
Notice that they exist in the Effect Controls panel as well as the Timeline panel. Turn that on. Press U to reveal it down here in the Timeline panel. Now I have got my first keyframe. I can go a little bit later in time like two seconds and drag it to maybe the top of this bend, then go a little bit later, like five seconds, and drag it off the bottom of this freeway. Note that I've got handles for my curve just like I do for anchor point and position.
They default to Auto Bezier handles. You don't see the connecting bar. Just like with position, as soon as I click and drag, now I'll get my handles. So if I want to change my path a little bit, I can bend it around these handles. Maybe I have it come straight or out like that. When you've got the Layer panel and the Comp panel open side-by-side, there is an additional trick you need to be aware of. If I was to press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM preview, I can see my animation in the Layer panel, but I'm not seeing it in context in the Comp panel.
If I want to see it in context in the Comp panel, I need to either bring the Comp panel forward then preview, or turn on this handy little Always Preview This View switch in the bottom- left corner of the Comp panel. This is a relatively new feature in After Effects. I'll turn that on, press 0, and now I am seeing my animation along the freeway and I can decide if it needs any tweaks. I'm fairly happy with that. I think I'm going to lower it right into that range here. So I am going to go ahead and scrub my Current Time Indicator here.
See where my lens is and say okay, you know something, you've got to come down. You got to bend a little bit. Look at it a little later in time. I think you are a little high there. So let's go ahead and pull this handle out, shorten this handle up. So this is more of the bend that I intend. Better to drag the Time Indicator to have the Comp panel a little high there. A ittle bit of an iterative process, but I'm getting where I want.
Now notice I have the Layer panel forward, but I have preview this view turned on the Comp panel. I press 0 on the numeric keypad, and that previews my Comp panel for me. That's a little close to the animation I want and again I can tweak the velocity using all the tricks you have learned back in the Advanced Animation lesson. So that's another good trick to have. We have found somewhat experienced users who are unaware that you can indeed edit the effect point path. The trick is you need to do it in the Layer panel.
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