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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
In the next few movies, we're going to strive to make this background look a little bit more interesting. I don't want it to be so interesting that distracts from our video, particularly the Hero here at the end, but it is looking a little bit empty right now and I do want to make this world complex enough that the viewer may want to see this again and again. But one thing we had done for us is we asked our intern to create a bunch of text layers that might represent results you get from a test on your heart. Say, EKG or blood test or something like that. They gave us the layered Photoshop file.
So I'm going to go to my Stills folder to make sure I import anything new into that folder, do a Cmd+I on Mac, Ctrl+I on Windows, navigate to the Stills folder in your exercise files, sources folder and select Lab Results.psd. Click open in the second dialog that opens, make sure Import Kind is set to Composition. This will allow each layer in that file to be opened as its own individual layer inside After Effects and click OK.
Down in the Stills folder, you'll have a composition called Lab Results and a folder with each of these individual Lab Results' layers. Double-click the composition named Lab Results to open it. Initially, it looks like there's nothing there but that's because the person who created these titles created them with the color black. Once I turned on my transparency grid, now I can see that there's something there. As long as my intern did actually create these using the Text tool in Photoshop and did not flatten the file, I have access to that original text.
Do Cmd+A or Ctrl+A to select all, go to layer and say Convert To Editable Text. You can only do this with Photoshop Text layers not Illustrator Text layers unfortunately. When I do so, you'll see they all get the T icon to indicate that they are indeed After Effects text layers. But the first thing I want to do is make their color white instead of black so I'm going to make sure my character panel is forward and with all the text layers selected, click on the Set to white Swatch, and now I have white layers that will make it easier to put over objects in my background.
Press F2 to deselect all, solo these individual layers to see what they look like since they're now editable After Effect layers. I can change the font or change what they actually say. I'm going to double check here and I see that they are in Myriad Pro-Semibold which is the same font I use for opening title. So that's nice and harmonious. Next, I'm going to select and copy our first text layer, go to final comp, go to the very beginning where we have nothing to look at and paste.
Initially, it's a 2D layer, I'll enable the 3D layer switch and to see this thing in 3D space, I'm going to go back to 4 views-Bottom. Now I can see that that new text layer from Photoshop has jumped to the same default position that our Hero video came in, our background came in at, etcetera. I'm going to select my active camera view, make sure that I can see my title on action safe grids, I can position it so it is in a safe area so that all viewers, wide-screen and 4X3 will be able to see it, select my Results 1 layer, press P to reveal its position and either start to scrub its position values to get somewhere where I can see it or pick it up inside one of these viewers and drag it over.
There's roughly where it's in the camera's view. It is a way too large. I'll start pushing it back in space, in Z. I'm now beyond what I can see in this viewer and for that matter the right viewer as well, so I am going to press C to bring up the camera tools, toggle around to track Z and back off a little bit here until I can see all my layers and my camera. I'll do the same over here as well and I might pan things little bit in this direction, just so they're nicely enclosed in my viewable area.
I'll press V to return back to my Selection tool. Okay, now I can start working on tucking this guy up where I want him to be in space. Might push him back a little bit further in Z to make him a little bit smaller, you can scale him as well, I need to widen this panel, to see exactly what I'm up to and remember quite often, High-Def content is cut off to an inner 4X3 area for standard def versions of broadcast. Normally, the inner bounding box is the title safe area for a television.
However, truth be told, with so many nice flat screens these days, you can usually cheat your text out into the action safe and have it still be readable, but just in case my client is picky about these things, I'm going to make sure it's sitting inside the title safe area. Now that I have it back here in space, I'll drag my current time indicator through my composition. I can see not only as it peeking nicely behind this video frames. I can also see that it's multi-planing nicely because it's further back in Z, therefore, not moving quite as much.
So I could see it even at the end of this display. So that's pretty nice. You have four of these layers total, feel free to select the other results layers and spread them around 3D space in your comp, so they peek in and out from behind these extra videos as the camera pans through these movements. You can go ahead and do that on your own and to your own personal taste, but before we do that, I'm going to do a little bit more tweaking on this layer just to make it fit in better with the design.
It's really sharp and readable right now and it's supposed to be a background element. Things in the background should be softer, blurrier, maybe not as opaque. So I'm going to go ahead and give it a little bit of treatment. I'm going to add a blur to it. Box blur is a very versatile blur, you get many different looks out of it and I'm going to try just a very small blur radius, even just one softens it up little bit, you can go far more if you want to. I think just right around 1.0, it's not a bad starting point. Two, I'm going to reduce the opacity of this layer, it's just too much in my face, it's supposed to be a background element that's just kind of floating around back there as part of my world.
Thirdly, well I do have this transparent white text but it's still looking a little bit boring. It'd be nicer if it interacted more with the colors of my interesting background and to get layers to interact with each other, I go to modes and in this case, try something such as Add, Screen, or Color Dodge. That will give it more of an interaction with the colors of the background underneath. Now you see particularly when coupled with a blur is much more of a glowing sort of appearance and I like that.
Now that I am in Add mode, I can go ahead and knock down the opacity even more, maybe somewhere around here, I can tweak that later and once I've placed my other text layers throughout the background, I can go ahead and copy and paste these parameters to those other layers to give them all the same look.