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The beauty of After Effects is its versatility, from motion graphics projects to visual effects in compositing, it has many different uses and workflows for many different users. But the other beautiful thing about After Effects is its modular design. Once you learn how each module works, you'll have the tools you'll need to be able to push yourself and learn new techniques and effects outside of your normal day-to-day workflow. Now in this video I don't want you to panic because I am going to cover the interface and where everything lives later as we move throughout this chapter.
Right now, I just want to cover what the six foundations are, so again, as I start showing you the interface and all those different elements, you kind of already have a basic understanding as to how the application works. So to get started, we want to look at compositions. In the left-hand side of the interface, you'll see this Project panel and that's where compositions live. Notice when I click on the composition, it appears up here in the Project panel with a thumbnail and it tells me the actual dimensions, the length, and the frame rate. So you want to think about compositions as containers for layers.
They're where you will be building your actual projects. So when you double-click on a composition in the Project panel, it opens up the Timing panel down here. This is where your timeline is and these are where your layers are. Notice as I click on each one of these layers, I'm seeing different elements getting highlighted up here in the Composition panel. Now these layers, if you're familiar with Photoshop, work in a very similar fashion. They have a hierarchy and you may even recognize the eyeballs here on the left that turn on and off the visibility.
So layers are the next thing that we want to actually focus on. They're an integral part of building any project inside of After Effects. They determine where you actually create graphic elements, how they look on the screen, their visibility, their transparency, all kinds of information like that. They also control the timing; exactly when those elements will appear on the screen. So don't worry, we'll definitely be diving into layers a little bit more, but next, we need to move on to effects.
Effects are the next area we want to focus on because effects are what you use to kind of stylize your layers. So if I click on layer 2 here, see this little FX button? That's letting me know that I have an effect. And this triangle here on the left, if I open that up, you can see I have effects here. So I want to open up those triangles, and you can see I have a Color Balance effect and a Drop Shadow on there. You can turn on and off the visibility of those effects just by clicking on each one of the effects here on the left-hand side.
Now we're just scratching the surface, but the next thing we want to check out is 3D. Now a few years ago, I would have called this more of an optional area to focus on just because it--I don't know, was relatively new. But honestly now, I can't think of an After Effects project I have worked on in the last couple of years where I haven't used 3D in some capacity. So to look at 3D, let's double-click this composition over here which says 3D Spin. In this comp, I built a project where I actually have a 3D element in the scene and an interesting element where it's actually a flat element but it's moving around in three-dimensional space.
See how it's spinning in 3D space there? The way I'm moving in the timeline--this is called my current-time indicator, and I'm just scrubbing through the composition. So you can see, again, to sort of reinforce, we have layers here that have things like cameras and lights because these are 3D elements within my layers, within my composition, which is being shown in my comp window. Now the final thing we need to focus on, rendering. See once you build all these projects and you have something that you really like, you need to actually create a file that you can send or upload to the web, or put in your videos.
In order to do that, that's a process called rendering. So in After Effects, when you're finished with a composition, just make sure that it's kind of selected down here in your timeline, and you can go to Composition > Add to Render Queue. When you do that, this area is the area where you can determine different things like, what kind of file am I going to create? A QuickTime file, a Photoshop Sequence? You get the general idea. This is where we can set things up so when you're all ready to output your project, you can click Render and go.
Now if you're new to After Effects, I'm sure this was kind of a whirlwind tour. But don't worry, the focus of this video, again, was just to give you an overview of the entire process and get you familiar with the core areas we're going to be covering throughout the rest of this course. Right now, we're just laying the foundation so you have the base knowledge so as we move forward throughout the course, you'll know exactly where we're going and why we're headed there.
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