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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.
Pretty much every time I teach a video training series here at lynda.com, I include a movie about using Image Sequences. I don't think anyone ever watches them or cares, but I use Image Sequence all the time. They are so helpful. Give them a chance. What am I going to do is go to the Project panel, double-click in the Project panel to open up the Import File dialog box and then go to the Media folder inside the Exercise Files. Go to Images/robot render. You'll notice a series of tga files. TGA is short for Targa.
So, these are Targa files, which are a series of still image files. Now, what I am going to do is uncheck Targa Sequence, so this is not checked. If I bring this in and go ahead and just leave this at Straight Unmatted, click OK, we could see here that we have a still image. We could double-click on this to open this up in the Footage panel. This is just one still image. There is no Timeline here. There is no movie to speak of, just one single image. Now, if I go back, double- click in a Project panel again.
Go back to that same folder. Select that first file, which is the eddie technology0000.tga. This time, check Target Sequence. And as you'll notice, that I've numbered these, 0000 and in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, on until we get to the end, which is a 120. So, we actually have 120 images in this folder. When we check Target Sequence, After Effects is going to look at all of these images in order. It's going to notice the numeric sequence. It's going to import all these images as one file.
Notice that it says here, eddie technology0000-0120. So, now if I double-click this to open it up, it's going to be a series of images. I mean, after all, isn't that what video is, just a series of images played back? So, now we have this movie clip, essentially. It's not really a movie clip. It's just a series of images, played one after another, but After Effects treats it like a movie. Now, why is that important to you? I'm glad you asked. I use image sequences all the time, and I use these for a few reasons.
Number one, oftentimes, in this day and age of the Internet and whatnot, a lot of the business I do is across the web. Even 10 years ago, it was the case that if you are going to be working on a big video project, you had to be in the same city as your client. Now, you could be across the world from them, and you could upload files, go back and forth through the power of the web. If you render out a movie file, it might be a colossal movie file that's really hard to transport. But if you use image sequences, you can actually break up those images into groups and then send them a few at a time.
Also, if you get some kind of corruption inside of your video file, then the whole file is toast. But with an image sequence, you can just toss out that one file and replace it. Also too, when I do work and I have image sequences, it is so much more convenient because if I need to, let say, for example, I did a commercial one time and the client gave me a series of still images. It was just like this folder. I am actually was going to right-click, and choose Reveal in finder, to show you what I am talking about here. So, here are these images in my Finder here. Basically, let's say, for example, this was a special effects shot.
These were still images from a movie file that I was working on. It only needed this group of files. So, I was only working on these few frames. Well, I could take all the rest of these frames and just delete them. It's almost like doing video editing before you even bring it into a system because I can just select these images and delete them, or just not even bring them in. Also, as I'll show you how to do later on in this training series, when you are rendering to movie, when you are outputting something like this, you can choose to output to a series of still images. And that will make it so that if After Effects crashes on one frame, you don't lose everything, which is what you'd do if you're rendering out one solitary movie file.
If there is one corrupt frame in there, and it crashes, then you've got to start all over again the rendering process. But if it is the still image sequence, then you only have to throw away that one image that it crashed on, and you continue rendering from that spot. Now, one final benefit that's very important about image sequences is that they are much more compatible with everything. Chances are some of you watching this training series will have some problem whatsoever, probably if you are on Windows, with some of these video files. There is just something in Operating Systems or whatever.
There's just issues when it comes to compression in video. Just not everybody can read or view every format of video. However, almost anyone can open a Targa file or a JPEG. So, if you make a series of JPEGs or Targa files or TIFFs or what have you, then chances are almost everybody on any platform is going to be able to open up and use those files without any kind of compression or codec issue whatsoever. So, you can choose to work how you want, but personally, I use image sequences as often as possible.
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