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By Rob Garrott | Friday, May 04, 2012

Two ways to create a reflective floor in After Effects

Floors create a sense of visual depth and give your designs a sense of space by giving your graphic elements something to ‘sit on.’ Making a reflective floor can be a great way to add an elegant look to your motion graphics layout. When you first see a reflection on a graphic element, trying to recreate it can seem like a daunting task. Really though, there are some techniques that have been carried over from the world of Photoshop that are simple to do, look great, and render fast.

On this edition of Design in Motion, we’ll see two different techniques for creating a reflective floor, one that explores transformation of a duplicate layer, and one that creates your reflective floor with a mirror. Both techniques yield final products that look very similar. The real difference in the two will be the amount of control you need. Using the reflective mirror route allows you to finalize this technique using only one layer, but this route gives you less control. Using the transformation of a duplicate later route you will end up with more layers, but also more control.

If you’re interested in learning more about working in After Effects, a great place to start is the lynda.com After Effects Apprentice series from Chris and Trish Meyer.

Interested in more? • The complete Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • 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 Training• After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

By Rob Garrott | Thursday, April 12, 2012

Premiere Pro and After Effects CS6 new features revealed

Workflow, speed, and efficiency make for a strong CS6 update to veteran production applications Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. Next week, Adobe will be revealing the updated Premiere and After Effects apps at the NAB convention in Las Vegas, and lynda.com authors Chris Meyer and Rich Harrington have created two lynda.com tutorials that walk you through the important new CS6 features.

In After Effects CS6 New Features, Chris Meyer explores the brand-new 3D camera tracker, which analyzes a piece of video footage and reconstructs a virtual digital camera that matches the scene perfectly. With that camera and tracking data, motion graphics and visual effects artists can seamlessly place digital elements into moving video. In addition, there is also a completely redesigned Global Performance Cache that dramatically speeds up interactions by saving crucial information about layers and how they’re put together into a locally stored data file. This locally-stored data allows After Effects to quickly undo changes, and present ram previews much faster. It can even reload cache after quitting and relaunching the application.

In this clip from After Effects CS6 New Features, Chris Meyer shows you the process of exporting 3D tracking data to CINEMA 4D:

Looking at our second featured course, Rich Harrington sums up the big changes to Adobe’s flagship editing application in Premiere Pro CS6 New Features. The elegant new Premiere Pro editing interface is exciting, but it’s the introduction of adjustment layers that will make heads turn. Adjustment layers have long been a part of After Effects, but the accelerated effects of the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro mean that editors can now use adjustment layers to apply effects like color correction to an entire timeline, and make changes in real time without stopping playback.

In this next movie from Premiere Pro CS6 New Features, author Rich Harrington shows off the new three-way color corrector in Premiere Pro CS6:

These two New Features courses are great for long-time users of Premiere and After Effects. For a ground-up introduction to each, keep an eye out for our Premiere Pro and After Effects CS6 essential training courses coming soon.

Interested in more? • All video courses on lynda.com • All courses on After Effects and Premiere Pro on lynda.com • Courses by Chris Meyer and Rich Harrington on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:Premiere Pro CS6 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS6 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential Training

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, April 11, 2012

After Effects Apprentice 15: Creating a 10-second promo video in After Effects

In After Effects Apprentice 15: Final Project (the fifteenth, and final, course in the After EffectsApprentice series based on the second edition of Trish and Chris Meyer’s book After Effects Apprentice) you will pull together skills you’ve learned in the previous After EffectsApprentice lessons to create a real-world video promo. In the first half of the course Trish leads you through building the artwork and components used in the final piece, and then Chris demonstrates how to assemble your precompositions into a 3D world, timed to music. Skills covered include how to use masks, effects, shape layers, text, layered Illustrator files, blending modes, track mattes, collapsed transformations, nested compositions, motion blur, expressions, animation presets, audio, a 3D camera and light, and more.

Throughout the course, Trish and Chris share with you their process and thoughts as they design component elements, work towards assembling a final composition, and deal with handling change requests from clients. Chapters 11 and 12, the final two chapters of the course, are essentially mini-courses in themselves. In chapter 11, Chris breaks down several strategies for efficient rendering, including how to create versions for archiving, non-linear editors, widescreen, center cut, and the web, and chapter 12 dives into the process of recreating a dial Illustrator logo using shape and text layers inside After Effects.

Although After Effects Apprentice 15: Final Project concludes the After Effects Apprentice series, this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Trish and Chris as they’ve already promised to update their After Effects Apprentice book based on the next version of After Effects, and afterward will release additional Apprentice videos covering the new features, plus a new final project.

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, April 04, 2012

After Effects and CINEMA 4D: Styling animation to communicate emotion

Animation has a way of connecting with a viewer that is very different than a still image. The power of a still image or illustration lies in its composition and content. Animation on the other hand, adds timing and movement into the mix, and these elements are an important tool you can use to communicate with your audience.

The speed and direction that your graphic elements move in tell your viewer information that adds to the overall content and composition of your piece. If your object moves quickly and comes to a sudden stop, then, that could be combined with a dark, intense composition to communicate a sense of drama and action. Smooth, fluid movements could work well for romance, or even a somber mood. Sharp, punchy moves are great for comedy.

This kind of subtle animation is all about control. Both After Effects and CINEMA 4D have excellent graph editors that will allow you to really express emotion through your animation. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out this week’s Design in Motion tutorial titled Styling animation to communicate emotion (embedded up top), then check out my CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training course, or After Effects Apprentice 03 by Chris and Trish Meyer. Both courses have chapters that go into detail about controlling your animation with curves.

Interested in more? • The complete Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • All courses on After Effects and CINEMA 4D on lynda.com • 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 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

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