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By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Using After Effects’ Graph Editor to control animation

The difference between a good animator and a great animator is finesse, and no matter what application you’re using, adding finesse to your animations boils down to having control. Using any kind of animation software is a lot like playing a musical instrument, and the greatest musicians in the world all need to have control over their instruments to create the strongest final product.

For musicians, finesse means moving from one note to the next in the appropriate manner, which can mean abrupt movement or seamless and smooth movement. The same is true for motion graphics, except an animator’s finesse means moving with appropriate control from key frame to key frame, rather than from note to note. For motion graphics, After Effects, and CINEMA 4D (C4D) are my instruments. In C4D, you finesse your animations using the F-Curve manager (which you can learn more about in the CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Trainingcourse). In After Effects, you finesse your animations using a tool called the Graph Editor, which is like a  flipped version of the timeline—where you see the key frames themselves in the timeline, we see what’s happening in between the key frames in the Graph Editor.

By definition, a key frame is simply the value of an animation parameter recorded at a specific moment in time. Normally the software will automatically figure out the animation from one key frame to another, but each application has its own default method. For After Effects the default animation between key frames is a linear transition from one value to another. That means that the values automatically move in a straight line with a sharp transition at each key frame. Sometimes that sharp transition is just fine, but there are other times where smoother, more fluid transitions may be the answer. To achieve these fluid transitions, you could use one of the preset key frame interpolations like easy ease (which is my solution about ninety-percent of the time if I need a smooth transition in key values). It’s when you need extra control over your animation’s finesse that I recommend using the Graph Editor.

If this introduction to the power of the Graph Editor gets you fired up, make sure to check out the course After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation by Chris and Trish Meyer and pretty soon you’ll have all the finesse you need!

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series in the Online Training Library® • All 3D + animation courses in the Online Training Library® • Courses on CINEMA 4D in the Online Training Library® • Courses by Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced AnimationCINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After EffectsAfter Effects CS5.5 New Features

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to create a camera shake in CINEMA 4D

Welcome back for another Design in Motion! This time around we’re going to have some fun in CINEMA 4D building a camera rig that will give you the ability to add very convincing multi-directional camera shake that is easy to control. Camera shake is an important component of animation. Just like motion blur, it adds a lot of realism to your movements.

Last week I introduced you to the idea of expressions in After Effects. CINEMA 4D also has an expression language—in fact—CINEMA 4D has three expression languages; Xpresso, Coffee, and Python. Don’t be alarmed, though—we won’t be writing code. We’re going to use the Xpresso language, which is a visual, node based way of making connections between objects and parameters.

Even though we’re building an easy to use camera rig, really, this technique is largely about the idea that you can use the Xpresso language to control objects and animation.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series in the Online Training Library® • All 3D + animation courses in the Online Training Library® • Courses on CINEMA 4D in the Online Training Library® • Courses by Rob Garrott in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next: • CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After EffectsCINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingAfter Effects CS5.5 New Features

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Adding stereoscopic 3D text and shapes

If you tuned in to Deke’s Techniques last week, you probably still have your red/cyan cardboard sunglasses at hand. Good thing, because this week, Deke shows you how to take your stereoscopic image and move solid objects (in this case text) behind and in front of the perceived screen plane. Words and pictures coming at you courtesy of Deke and lynda.com! And despite its intricate effect, this technique primarily consists of systemtatically turning channels on and off and moving layers right and left. In fact, Deke gives you a cool, non-3D (take those silly glasses off for a second) graphic that shows you how to move your anaglyphic objects to and fro for the desired effect:

By the end of this free video, you’ll have your text dancing in and out of the screen. And in this week’s lynda.com member-exclusive video, Deke shows you how to apply a tilt effect to that text for an amazingly sophisticated effect that you’ll be hard pressed to find documented anywhere else. Put your silly glasses back on for this one, kids.

And we’ll see you back next week for another Deke’s Technique (Illustrator-style!)

Related links:Deke’s Techniques courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library® courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Deke's Techniques: Shooting and assembling a stereoscopic photo

In this week’s free Deke’s Technique, you’ll see how to create a classic anaglyphic stereoscopic 3D image in Photoshop. Anaglyph images are created by superimposing two slightly different perspectives of the same scene, with each version seen by only one eye or the other, resulting in a sense of depth when your brain fuses the two images into one. In this case, Deke shows you how to create an image intended to be viewed through the old-school red (left) and cyan (right) glasses.

In order to achieve this classic effect, you have to first correctly shoot a pair of images with a slightly shifted perspective, like the ones shown below shot by lynda.com’s own Jacob Cunningham. You can see in the top two images (each with a simulated filter applied), slightly means slightly—as in the distance between your two eyes. Then the two images are placed on separate layers in the same file, and the color channels are turned off so that each of your eyes (with the requisite glasses on) sees a slightly different image. Then, your brain does the rest.

If that’s not enough depth for you, lynda.com members can see an exclusive video in the Online Training Library®, in which Deke (again with the help of Jacob) demonstrates how to create a stereoscopic image with an object projecting out beyond the screen plane.

So grab your cardboard glasses and come experience Deke in 3D! And come back again next week for another free (3D) technique from Deke.

Related links:Deke’s Techniques courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library® courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

By Crystal McCullough | Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Exploring the new feature set in Maya 2011

In Maya 2011 New Features, lynda.com author and content manager for 3D, animation, and video George Maestri explores the significant and robust features in Maya 2011 that add functionality to its 3D workflows. This course covers the addition of Bezier curves for NURBS modelers, the Connect Component and Spin Edge tools in the polygonal modeling mode, and rigging tools for character animation. George also covers enhancements to rendering and special effects, adjusting skin weights with color feedback with Paint Skin Weights, making object-level soft selections, using the camera sequencer, and much more.

By Megan O. Read | Friday, May 07, 2010

3D training round-up at lynda.com

There have been a lot of new releases in the 3D category at lynda.com lately, with more to come.

First-time lynda.com author Rob Garrott was just in town recording a new project-based course using Cinema 4D training. Rob has worked in the industry for 17 years as an art director, animator, editor, and an instructor at Art Center College of Design teaching 3D motion graphics, compositing, and motion design.

Rob Garrett

Rob Garrett on the lynda.com live action set.

Veteran lynda.com author and channel manager for 3D and video, George Maestri, just wrapped up recording new Maya 2011 training. Maya 2011 is a really significant upgrade, and George’s new training will explore the numerous upgrades and functionality.

George Maestri

George Maestri in a lynda.com recording booth.

Jeff BartelsAutoCAD 2011 New Features course was released recently, and covers all of the new and cool features AutoCAD 2011 has to offer, from transparency, to the new 3D surfaces, to hatch creation. Look for more AutoCAD training from Jeff soon.

The highly anticipated Rhino 4 Essential Training by Dave Schultze was released this month, and is proving to be an exciting addition to the Library. In addition to building with the curve, surface, and the solid, members can learn how to create shoes for their robots and watch as their sketches come to life.

And in case you missed the New Deal Studios, Visual EffectsCreative Inspirations documentary that was published in February, you might want to check out how this visual effects house uses Rhino and other 3D applications to create models, miniatures, and other computer graphics you will probably recognize from major motion pictures like Shutter Island, and The Dark Knight.

By Megan O. Read | Monday, April 05, 2010

Jeff Bartels: Count Chocula, a lot of hard work, and a love for AutoCAD

I recently interviewed the talented AutoCAD instructor Jeff Bartels and asked him how he got involved with AutoCAD, with lynda.com, and what his recording process is like.

 How did you get started with AutoCAD? Walk us through the story.

By George Maestri | Friday, February 12, 2010

Meet the Content Manager for 3D, animation, and video: George Maestri

George Maestri, content manager for 3D, animation, and video for lynda.com.

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is George Maestri, and I’m the content manager for 3D, animation, and video for lynda.com. My job is to find great authors in these areas and have them produce and teach courses that our members need.

My background is in animation, and I started my animation career 20 years ago. Back then, learning animation was not an easy task. There were very few books, and only a handful of colleges in the country taught the subject. The technology was primitive, as well. Even the best computers struggled with something as simple as a pencil test, and computers that could do 3D animation cost as much as a house.

Back then, we resorted to pencil, paper, videotape, and film to learn how to animate. I was fortunate to live close to a college which had a good animation program and a giant Oxberry camera stand. While there, I made enough films to get my foot in the door and start my career. Others were not as fortunate, and many had to literally move across the country to learn the craft.

In the intervening years, a technology revolution has made animation much easier, not only in the way it is made, but also the way it is taught. Almost all animation today is created digitally, and just about any modern computer is powerful enough to create high quality animation. The only barrier these days is some talent and the willingness to learn.

This is where technology comes to the rescue again. Instead of having to move across the country to learn animation, the power of the internet allows lynda.com to bring some of the best teachers of animation to you. I’m a total animation geek, and I’m very happy to bring my laser geek focus to bear on creating great animation courses for both 3D and 2D character animation, as well as special effects, motion graphics, and anywhere else animation is used. Look forward to a lot of great new courses in the coming year, and let me know what kinds of courses you’d like to see.

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