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By Chris Meyer | Friday, August 23, 2013

Editing and Animating to Sound

Editing and Animating to Sound in After Effects

Although I’m primarily known as an Adobe After Effects user and motion graphics artist, my background is in the music industry. Over the years I’ve found a sympathy for sound to be a big benefit to video professionals: timing animations to your project’s sound increases the impact of your visuals. Inversely, strictly focusing on the visual elements of your edits without serving the sound can distract the viewer, and dilute the overall impact.

I’ve recently distilled years of experience creating visuals to sound into a two-and-a-half-hour video course of exercises and real-world examples, Editing and Animating to Sound in Adobe After Effects. I start with the basics of learning how to “read” an audio waveform to spot the timing of beats in music, and then cut video, build animations, and even drive effects using the audio in your project. I also include a list of “magic tempos” you can hand to musicians so they can create a soundtrack at a speed that makes editing and animating easier.

By Mike Rankin | Thursday, January 12, 2012

InDesign FX: Exploring the Satin effect

InDesign’s Satin effect allows you to blend colors by combining objects that act like two inner shadows. By default, where the shadows intersect, they knock each other out, creating a kind of highlight.

InDesign's Satin effect blending colors

You can also invert the effect so a shadow is created only where the inner objects overlap. You can change the position of the objects and apply a blur to blend the colors.

InDesign's Satin effect creating shadow only where the inner objects overlap

The effect can be somewhat like beveling, but with intricate shapes, the highlight can zig-zag to follow all the edges of the shapes and create complex blends that you cannot make any other way in InDesign.

In this week’s video, I will show you how to simulate flames by combining a number of effects including Basic Feather, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, and the real key to capturing the shifting nature of flames, the Satin effect. Here’s a comparison of the flames with and without Satin:

Flames with and without Satin effect

You can see that without Satin, the flames are filled with a plain old linear gradient, but adding Satin introduces a randomness that completes the effect in a very satisfying way. I also show how Satin can help you make ice as well as fire:

Ice made with Satin effect

Expect that it may take a little while to get the hang of using Satin, and remember that a little bit of Satin goes a long way as it’s easy to overdo the effect and create something gaudy. My advice is to be subtle when using Satin. Use it in combination with other effects. Keeping the opacity low, blend with dark colors, and match the Size and Distance values for a good-sized blur. Then try it on some complex shapes to test the unique power of Satin.

For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week in the Online Training Library® that discusses Exploring Gradient Feather Settings, including how to use gradient feather to enhance a shiny reflective effect, like the one seen here:

Exploring InDesign's Gradient Feather Settings

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

Interested in more? • The complete InDesign FX course • All InDesign courses on lynda.com • All courses by Mike Rankin on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next: • InDesign CS5 Essential TrainingInDesign SecretsInDesign Styles in Depth• Photoshop for Designers: Color

By Mike Rankin | Thursday, December 22, 2011

InDesign FX: Creating metallic chrome effects

In this week’s free-to-all InDesign FX video, I show how you can use gradients to create different chrome effects. A shiny metallic chrome effect is a great demonstration of the powers of a simple gradient fill like this one:

InDesign chrome gradient fill

I’ll show you how to use a linear gradient to create a convincing chrome look in any InDesign object or live text with as few as four color stops. There’s no need to invoke InDesign’s transparency effects at all. The key is to simply drag the gradient stops very close together, so they’re nearly touching, to create a point somewhere in the gradient where colors shift abruptly.

Setting InDesign gradient stops close

When gradient stops rub elbows, an abrupt change in color happens, and that is what creates the illusion of chrome. Most commonly chrome gradients include some blue to represent a reflection of the sky, and some brown or black to represent a reflection of the ground, but feel free to take this idea and run with it. Experiment with various tints and colors to make your own chrome gradients, and remember, you can click and drag with the Gradient tool to apply your chrome gradient over any length and at any angle of your choosing.

If learning chrome effects doesn’t satisfy your shiny-object wishes, I have another new video this week exclusively for members of the lynda.com Online Training Library® called Creating Glass and Plastic Effects. Here’s an example of the glass effect discussed in the member-exclusive course:

InDesign glass effect

Happy shiny-object Holidays from InDesign FX. See you here again in two weeks!

Interested in more? • InDesign FX complete course • courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library® • courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next: • InDesign CS5 Essential TrainingInDesign SecretsDesigning a Newsletter Hands-On WorkshopPhotoshop for Designers: Layer Effects

By Mike Rankin | Thursday, December 08, 2011

InDesign FX: Simulating multiple strokes in InDesign

If you’ve ever wished you could apply more than one stroke to an object in InDesign, then this week’s free InDesign FX video is for you. While there is no way to trick InDesign into applying more than one stroke at a time to an object, it is easy to create custom-stripe stroke styles (try saying that three times fast!) that give the appearance of more than one stroke. In the video, I show how to create a custom inset stroke-style by starting with the Triple stroke and simply removing the outer stripes you don’t want. In the example below, I made a custom stroke based on Triple, and then simply deleted the two outer strokes in the New Stroke dialog box. The result is an inset stroke, held in place because it started out as the innermost of three strokes.

InDesign Triple stroke simulating a double stroke

I also show how to use InDesign’s Gap Color and Gap Tint settings to make multi-colored strokes using solid color swatches or gradients. The Gap Color controls are key for simulating multiple strokes and they are easily overlooked because they’re not in the Swatches panel. You’ll only find them in the Stroke panel. I’m especially fond of using gradients to create a metallic look in striped strokes, as I’ve done here by setting the Gap Color to black and the Stroke color to a metallic swatch:

InDesign metallic-look striped strokes

A double-stripe stroke is great for simulating a photo frame and matte combination, like the one below. In this instance, I also applied an Inner Bevel to the stroke to make the frame look like it was made of four separate pieces:

InDesign double-stripe stroke effect

For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® that demonstrates even more ways of simulating multiple strokes. It’s called (wait for it…) Simulating Multiple Strokes, Part 2. Here’s a preview of one of the effects:

Multiple strokes InDesign simulation: Postage-Stamp Look

So, if you don’t want to settle for InDesign’s single stroke per object limitations (or wait for an Illustrator-like Appearance panel in some future version of InDesign), you can trick InDesign into simulating multiple strokes by tweaking the existing stroke styles today.

I’ll see you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

Interested in more?

InDesign FX complete course • courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library® • courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next: • InDesign CS5 Essential TrainingInDesign SecretsInDesign Styles in Depth

By Mike Rankin | Thursday, November 24, 2011

InDesign FX: Exploring Inner Shadow settings

Using shadows to create a sense of depth in a design can really bring it to life and make it pop. Most often you might employ effects like Drop Shadow or Bevel and Emboss to make elements seem like they’re lifted up off the page (or screen). But you can also add depth by going in the opposite direction, down into a design, with the help of the Inner Shadow effect. In this week’s video I show how to use the settings in the Inner Shadow dialog box to make it look like objects are sitting at a lower level than their surroundings.

Example of inner Shadow used to make an object appear lower than its surroundings

Inner Shadow can also be very effective for making text seem like it’s cut out of an object.

Example of inner shadow used to make text appear cut out

In the video, I also show how to apply a big, soft inner shadow to give a more subtle sense of dimension to something like this envelope.

Envelope with big, soft inner shadow to give it subtle dimension

We tend to think that lighter objects are closer than darker objects, so darkening the edges of the envelope just slightly makes the middle of the envelope seem to puff up toward the viewer.

For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® that explores Drop Shadow settings, including how to add noise to an object, like I’ve done to this object below:

Object with noises added by InDesign Drop Shadow settings

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

Interested in more?InDesign FX complete course • Courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library® • Courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:InDesign CS5 Essential TrainingDesigning a Magazine Layout Hands-On Workshop • InDesign CS5 New FeaturesInDesign Secrets

By Mike Rankin | Thursday, November 10, 2011

InDesign FX: How to create a Polaroid picture effect

Say cheese! In this week’s video I show how to make a photo look like it was taken with a Polaroid instant camera.

Example of InDesign Poloroid project creation

The key to the effect is using Directional Feather to create an unequal stroke around the photo, where the bottom stroke is much thicker than the stroke on the top and sides. This is not only a fun exercise, but it’s also useful for learning about two important (and somewhat obscure) Effects dialog box settings: Choke, and Shadow Honors Other Effects.

The Polaroid effect is also useful for illustrating how your scaling preferences affect your effects. In General Preferences > Object Editing > When Scaling, you have two choices: Apply to Content, and Adjust Scaling Percentage.

Example of Object Editing options in InDesign

Apply to Content essentially tells InDesign “don’t scale FX.” No matter how large or small you scale an object, its FX remains fixed in size. So in this case, the width of the Directional Feather doesn’t change along with the photo and you get undesirable results. However, if you choose Adjust Scaling Percentage, your FX will scale along with the object. So the width of the Directional Feather stays in proportion to the photo and all is well.

Example of Adjust Scaling Percentage in InDesign Poloroid project

After you get the hang of the Polaroid effect, you can try this bonus technique (not shown in the video). Place a large photo on the page, arrange several empty Polaroid frames on top of the photo, then cut the photo and use the Paste Into command to paste it into each Polaroid frame.

Poloroid picture project created with InDesign

For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week focused on creating metallic strokes, like the ones you see below. This video, and the entire InDesign FX series, can be viewed any time from the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Metallic strokes created with InDesign

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

Interested in more?the entire InDesign FX series in the Online Training Library®courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library®courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

By Mike Rankin | Wednesday, October 12, 2011

InDesign FX: Exploring Basic Feather settings

InDesign’s Basic Feather effect gives you the ability to blend the edges of an object with what’s behind it, creating soft transitions instead of sharp edges.

Perfectly sharp edges can make things look a little too sterile and digital, so this effect can be helpful for making objects seem a little more natural. In this week’s video, I lead a tour of the refreshingly simple Basic Feather dialog box, showing you how to control the shape and width of the feather as well as how to use Choke and Noise settings to tweak the transitions.

While Basic Feather works just fine on relatively simple shapes, I show why you might want to avoid using it on complex, small shapes like letters, where it can be difficult (if not impossible) to find a combination of settings that won’t break down the shapes entirely.

In the video I also show how to deal with one potentially frustrating aspect of working with InDesign FX: the fact that you can’t hide the frame edges of a selected object. This can make it hard to clearly see an effect like Basic Feather as you adjust the settings. The fix? Open a second window showing the same spread. In one window, select the object you’re feathering. In the other window, make sure the object is de-selected.

Target the window where the object is selected and open the Effects dialog box. Then, as you adjust your settings, preview the effect in the other window. It’s easier than it sounds, and it sure beats making repeated trips to the Effects dialog box.

For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® on one of Basic Feather’s more sophisticated cousins, Exploring Directional Feather Settings.

And I’ll see you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

• InDesign FX complete course • courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library® • courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

By Mike Rankin | Thursday, September 15, 2011

InDesign FX: Exploring Bevel and Emboss settings

If I were faced with a scenario where I could choose only one of InDesign’s effects to use for the rest of my career, I’d definitely choose Bevel and Emboss. All the other effects certainly have their uses, but in my opinion, Bevel and Emboss is the most indispensable of InDesign FX because of its versatility. With it, you can not only create 3D effects, but also simulate textures. Many of the coolest techniques shown in the InDesign FX video series have one thing in common: the use of Bevel and Emboss.

It’s probably just a coincidence, but I think it’s perfect that Bevel and Emboss is located smack in the middle of InDesign’s Effects menus, because it is the central component of so many cool effects.

In this week’s free video, I go through each of the controls in the Bevel and Emboss dialog box. I show each of the effect’s four styles: Inner Bevel, Outer Bevel, Emboss, and Pillow Emboss.

Because these styles are just starting points, I also show how to customize them by adjusting settings like Technique, Direction, Soften, Depth, Angle, and Altitude.

A key concept I highlight in the video is the fact that you can set the Shadow and Highlight of the effect to use any blending mode and color. This flexibility is incredibly useful for simulating materials. For example, to simulate something like gold, you can change the Highlight settings from the defaults Screen and [Paper] to Multiply and [Black], so instead of creating a highlight, you create a second shadow.

On the other hand, you could do the opposite: set the Shadow to use Screen and [Paper] and create two highlights with the effect to make something super glossy.

For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® on exploring Inner Glow Settings.

And I’ll see you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.

Interested in more?InDesign FX complete course • Courses on InDesign in the Online Training Library® • Courses by Mike Rankin in the Online Training Library®

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