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By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, March 21, 2012

After Effects 2D tracking basics

The tracking tools in After Effects allow you to select a spot in a video clip, lock onto it, and then use that movement for effects and compositing. This week on Design in Motion, we’re going to take a look at 2D tracking, a tool that gives you position information for elements moving on X and Y—or left right (X), up down (Y).

Tracking this kind of movement in clips is often the first step in the effects process, and the information it generates can be used to place elements into the footage to match camera movement. 2D tracking information could also be used to drive a particle effect that adds “magic” to the end of a magic wand. Today we are going to specifically work on selecting a spot in a video clip, inserting a piece of type into a piece of video footage, and having the inserted type stick to the motion of the spot we selected to track.

When you’re ready to do a 2D track you need to ask a few questions: What do I want to accomplish with the track? Is the object or spot I’m trying to track moving or is it moving and rotating? Another important question is whether or not your feature is moving in Z space as well. If your feature is moving in Z space, then you’re going to need a different type of tracking and tracking tool that we’ll dive into in a future edition of Design in Motion.

2D tracking is an important part of many visual effects and compositing workflows. If you’re interested in learning more about the tracking tools in After Effects, watch After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying, from Chris and Trish Meyer. If you’re specifically interested in learning more about how to stabilize jerky handheld video footage, check out After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques, also from Chris and Trish Meyer, to learn more about a great new tool called the Warp Stabilizer. Chris and Trish Meyer will help you become a tracking master!

Design in Motion is a weekly series of creative techniques featuring short projects using After Effects and CINEMA 4D. Taught by motion graphics expert Rob Garrott, the course covers how color correction, expressions, rendering type, lighting, and animation are used in each program, and the topics are updated weekly. Using these tips and tricks, motion graphics designers will find designing to be a more efficient process. Exercise files are included with the course.

Interested in more? • The complete Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • All courses on After Effects • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and KeyingAfter Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Using After Effects blend modes to stencil text and create color effects

Blending modes in Photoshop and After Effects are often taken for granted, but neither application started out with these features. When blend modes were introduced into After Effects around Version 3, they literally blew my mind. The idea that you could mix still images together had been long established in Photoshop, and the thought of being able to do that with animation and video was incredible.

Flash forward to the present and blend modes are incredibly well documented, but even with all this documentation, I’m often asked “what can I do with them?” In this week’s edition of Design in Motion, I’ll show you some of my favorite blend modes and how you can use them for type effects and color correction.

After watching this, if you’re ready to learn a lot more, After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control from Chris and Trish Meyer is filled with tips and ideas on how to get the most out of blend modes in After Effects.

Don’t forget that you can also watch Photoshop courses on lynda.com, and the blend mode information there directly translates to After Effects.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • All courses on After Effects • Courses by Chris Meyer on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects Apprentice 04: Layer ControlAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Using After Effects as a titler for Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro has a robust titler built in, including the ability to create title rolls and crawls. However, Adobe After Effects has even more advanced tools, including hundreds of Animation Presets for type, Shape Layers (to build additional graphic elements such as lower third bars), and a combination of Layer Styles and Effects to further enhance the final look. If you have either the Production Premium or Master Collection suites, Premiere Pro and After Effects can talk to each other using Adobe Dynamic Link, which makes this process more fluid. In this course instructor Chris Meyer explains the general process of using After Effects to create refined lower thirds for Premiere Pro, including sharing some After Effects design ideas. Although this course is aimed at intermediate Premiere Pro users who have some After Effects experience, beginning After Effects users will also find this course to be full of useful tips, exposing them to numerous areas of the program.

Interested in more? • The full Premiere Pro and After Effects: Creating Title Graphics course • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All courses on After Effects • Courses by Chris Meyer on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects Apprentice 04: Layer ControlAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Chelsea Adams | Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Using After Effects’ render queue to be more efficient

At the end of a long day of bending pixels, it is a really satisfying feeling to hit the start button on a long stack of renders in After Effects. As an example, this link shows a screen grab of a render queue I set up on a project. Long render queues like this are not at all uncommon. In my example there are 48 separate render queue entries, but I’m actually rendering out something like 100 different elements. That’s because each render queue item can generate many different outputs. This is a really efficient way to do things, and anyone who’s taken one of my classes will tell you that I’m all about being efficient.

In this edition of Design In Motion, we’re going to explore some ways to be more efficient and do more with less in the After Effects render queue. When we’re done, take a look at the After Effects CS5 Essential Training series by Chad Perkins for more great ways to work with this powerful animation tool.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All After Effects courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects CS5 Essential TrainingAfter Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS4: Apprentice’s Guide to Key FeaturesCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After EffectsAfter Effects CS4 Beyond the Basics

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Motion tracking and color keying with After Effects

Motion tracking (the ability to follow the location of an object in a piece of footage, and use this information to stabilize that shot or animate other layers) and color keying (the ability to make a green- or blue-screen background transparent so that you can replace it with a new image) are two essential visual-effects tasks you need to learn if you want to take your After Effects skills to the next level.

In After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying, Chris Meyer covers tracking and keying basic and essential skills including a quick tour of mocha, the third-party tracking software that is bundled with After Effects, and an introduction to The Foundry’s KEYLIGHT, an Academy Award-winning keying effect that is also built into After Effects.

Throughout the course, Chris shows you how to use the motion tracker and stabilizer built into After Effects, and offers advice on how to handle a variety of shot scenarios. He also discusses how to use tracking and keying to track a greenscreen shot with a handheld camera and replace its background.

While practice is the secret to mastering your tracking and keying skills, getting to look over someone else’s shoulder as they perform these tasks is a great way to jump-start your learning curve.

Interested in more? • The full After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying series on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All 56 lynda.com courses on After Effects • Courses by Chris Meyer on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects Apprentice 04: Layer ControlAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Friday, October 28, 2011

Introducing Design in Motion, by Rob Garrott

Many of you know me as an author for lynda.com, but I’d like to introduce myself as the new Content Manager for the video segment of the lynda.com Online Training Library®. In this new role, I’ll be responsible for our overall video curriculum strategy. I will also be actively working to find and recruit the very best authors for video and motion graphics. It’s a very exciting time for me, and I’m particularly excited that we’re finally able to bring you a brand new course, Design In Motion, by… me!

Weekly for members, and bi-weekly for the blog, I’ll be bringing you tips, techniques, and inspiration from the world of motion graphics using After Effects and CINEMA 4D. In this first episode, I explore the very important idea of using color to communicate a sense of emotion in a video clip.

Storytelling is much more than having a script and shooting a bunch of footage or creating animation. While those are important, there is one thing that does more than anything else to communicate a sense of mood for a viewer, and that’s color. Color has always been an important component of the psychology of art, but when color film photography techniques made color movies possible, directors were quick to incorporate the language of color into the language of film. Creating color in After Effects is a simple and non-destructive process that should have you speaking the language of color in no time at all.

I hope you enjoy this very first edition of Design In Motion! Let us know what you think in the comments section, below.

By George Maestri | Monday, August 29, 2011

Grouping layers in After Effects: Expressions

The three most recent installments of Chris and Trish Meyer’s After Effects Apprentice series have covered three different approaches to grouping layers in After Effects. Each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses; mastering all three means you can choose the right approach for a particular task—or combine them for the ultimate in power and flexibility. Here’s an overview from the third in the series, After Effects Apprentice 09: Expressions.

Expressions allow you tie an individual parameter of one layer either to the identical parameter of another layer, or to a different parameter of the same or different layers—even across compositions. This makes it the most targeted and most flexible approach to grouping in that you can target specific properties, and leave others untouched.

One of the biggest advantages of expressions includes the ability to keyframe just one property or layer and have others follow (and update) automatically. However, this is just one use of expressions; many other functions are possible, including the ability to automatically loop or randomize the animation of a layer.

Watch the entire course: After Effects Apprentice 09: Expressions.

By George Maestri | Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grouping layers in After Effects: Parenting

The three most recent installments of Chris and Trish Meyer’s After Effects Apprentice series have covered three different approaches to grouping layers in After Effects. Each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses; mastering all three means you can choose the right approach for a particular task—or combine them for the ultimate in power and flexibility. Here’s an overview from the first in the series, After Effects Apprentice 07: Parenting.

Parenting allows you to attach an entire layer to another. The child layer keeps its own animation, which is then also affected by the position, rotation, and scale of the parent layer (note that effects and opacity are not passed from the parent to its children). For example, you can attach several layers to one parent, reposition just the parent, and all of the children will move as well. The same goes for scaling the parent: All of the children will be scaled by the same amount, keeping their same relative sizes and positional offsets. A parent can have multiple children, and you can set up parent/child chains where a layer in the middle is both a parent and a child. All of the layers stay in the current composition.

Watch the entire course: After Effects Apprentice 07: Parenting

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