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The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com library.
- Animating to music
- Arranging layers in 3D space
- Performing time stretches
- Working with 3D camera tracking
- Typesetting and animating text
- Adding effects like drop shadows and motion blur
- Creating and animating shape layers
- Building and delivering a broadcast package
Skill Level Intermediate
Okay, I promised I would talk about center cut and letter boxing. Quite often you still need to create 4x3 versions of your content for standard def TV, so I'm going to add another Output Module and open up my Output Module Settings to modify how I save this file to disk. Again, choose a codec that matches whatever your client likes, but you will need to Resize your video. Let's say I'm delivering to an NTSC standard to 486 lines. With my Locked Aspect Ratio switch turned on, I'll say, okay, squish this down to 486, I will tab and it will automatically calculate the right Width for me as well.
The problem is that NTSC video also is not square pixels. The delivered pixels are 11/10s wider than you worked at on your computer. So I'm going to turn off Lock Aspect Ratio, select Resize, cursor to the right and say, x11/10, that is the correct NTSC Pixel Aspect Ratio. Tab, it says I should actually be rendering at 950, 486 to get 486 lines, but to stretch it, to take into account non-square pixels, fine! But if I am going to center cut this, I need to cut off the left and right sides of the video, so we just have 4x3 center piece of the video remaining.
NTSC delivery is 720, so I have 950 pixels minus 720 which equals 230, that's how many pixels I need to cut off. I'll cut half of them off the left side, that's 115 and half of them off the right, and now I've reached my 720, 46 delivery size, 4x3 aspect ratio with the correct non-square pixel stretch, so that's one approach. Another approach is to letterbox the video to the point where the full 16x9 video is fit inside a 4x3 frame with black padded at the top and bottom.
To do that, we need a slightly different approach. Again, choose the codec your client requests. I still need to resize my video. I need to get my current width to 960 to fit down inside a 720 width taking into account that that 720 width is also non-square pixels. I know that's a bit of a headache. I'll leave my Lock Aspect Ratio switched on for now. Just to calculate this properly, I know that 720 pixels wide, but those have been stretched by a ratio of 11 times 10, to bring it down to NTSC size I need to scale it down to 655x368 square pixels.
You never do anything in odd pixel numbers when you deliver video, and you see After Effects automatically rounded that down to 654 for me. Now that I have this at the proper size, I'm going to turn off my Lock Aspect Ratio switch and set this back to 720 to take into account the non-square pixels that NTSC video requires. So now we have the full 16x9 image scaled down to fit inside a 724x486 video, taking into account non-square pixels. Next, I need to pad out black at the top and bottom.
I need to deliver 486 lines, not 368, I'm going to be rendering. That means I have 118 pixels I need to add, okay? I'll divide that by two for the top, 59 pixels and add 59 pixels to the bottom. The problem with this dialog is that it thinks it's cropping, not adding, you'll notice that my size went down. That's no problem. To add rather than crop, just make these negative numbers and that will be a reverse crop which adds pixels.
And now you see I've reached my 720x486 goal, scale down to 654 x 368 square pixels, brought it back up to 720 to accommodate the non-square pixels of NTSC, then reverse cropped, added pixels to the top and bottom and that would be my letterbox delivery. So now my client has their High Def version and alternate 4x3 versions, so they can choose which one works best for this content. It's the little things like that helps you make your client's life easier and makes you more valuable to them.