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After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control
Illustration by John Hersey

Working with effect point paths


From:

After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Working with effect point paths

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.
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  1. 3m 20s
    1. Overview
      1m 20s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 23m 19s
    1. Stacking and sliding layers
      5m 23s
    2. Trimming layers in the Timeline panel
      5m 45s
    3. Trimming in the Layer panel
      3m 31s
    4. Pre-trimming and inserting layers from the Footage panel
      3m 20s
    5. Slip editing
      5m 20s
  3. 12m 13s
    1. Applying sequence layers to footage
      4m 45s
    2. Using sequence layers with objects
      2m 14s
    3. Example: Sequence layers and photographs
      2m 20s
    4. Creating a new composition using sequence layers
      1m 35s
    5. Understanding the importance of layer order
      1m 19s
  4. 17m 20s
    1. Looping footage
      3m 15s
    2. Importing a sequence of still images
      4m 30s
    3. Using Time Stretch vs. altering frame rates
      3m 23s
    4. Frame blending
      6m 12s
  5. 19m 1s
    1. Overview of blending modes
      7m 5s
    2. Combining modes and effects
      4m 45s
    3. Why apply effects to solids?
      7m 11s
  6. 22m 2s
    1. Using the Effects & Presets panel
      5m 3s
    2. Applying presets
      5m 34s
    3. Working with behaviors
      3m 2s
    4. Creating and saving presets
      8m 23s
  7. 7m 55s
    1. Importing Photoshop files with layer styles
      4m 7s
    2. Applying layer styles inside After Effects
      3m 48s
  8. 9m 27s
    1. Using adjustment layers
      3m 17s
    2. Working with adjustment layers and alpha channels
      3m 14s
    3. Applying a filmic glow treatment
      2m 56s
  9. 6m 50s
    1. Quizzler challenges
      1m 16s
    2. Quizzler solution one: Pyrotechnic composite
      3m 7s
    3. Quizzler solution two: Sequenced fades
      2m 27s
  10. 11m 51s
    1. Idea corner one: Adjustment layer shapes
      1m 55s
    2. Idea corner two: Creating a traveling glass bar
      4m 12s
    3. Idea corner three: Creating sequences from filmstrips
      5m 44s
  11. 27m 23s
    1. Looping footage by crossfading
      5m 20s
    2. Working with effect point paths
      5m 12s
    3. Brainstorming
      7m 19s
    4. Working with pixel aspect ratios
      9m 32s

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After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control
2h 40m Beginner Feb 23, 2011 Updated Nov 15, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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®.

Topics include:
  • Sliding and trimming
  • Slip-editing and insert-editing layers
  • Employing blending modes to enhance layers and composites
  • Applying, modifying, and saving animation presets and layer styles
  • Using adjustment layers to affect multiple layers
  • Experimenting with effects using Brainstorm
  • Understanding pixel aspect ratios
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Working with effect point paths

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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control.


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Q: This course was updated on 11/15/2012. What changed?
A: We have added exercise files designed for After Effects CS6. We also added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files.
 
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