Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Animate layers in After Effects, part of Motion Graphics for Video Editors: Creating Animated Logos.
Let's take a look at a simple type of animation. I often refer to this as a popcorn build, where layers pop into place and are revealed over time. This is pretty straightforward, and what I can do here is build them sequentially or add a bit of randomness. Let me show you how. To start, I'm going to use the cropped version here, and let's drag up so we can see all the layers. This makes it a bit easier as we work. When you select a layer, you can twirl down the Disclosure Triangle to see the Transform properties.
Additionally, there are useful shortcuts for things like a for anchor point, d for scale, r for rotation, p for position, and t for opacity, or transparency, they're similar. This makes it easy to see the individual property you want to control. For example, I want these to start quite large and fall into place. So to do that, I'm going to press s for scale. And I'll start by blowing this up to 600%. In fact let's go a bit further, let's go 1200%.
You see it gets quite large. And in fact we can keep building that up a bit. However, when we do that, note that it becomes quite pixellated. We'll do it even 4000%. The good news, though, is that you have switches in After Effects. So this small switch right here is called Continuously Rasterized. And when you have a vector graphic, clicking it forces the vector graphic to scale and redraw cleanly as a vector file. Alright, that looks pretty good.
I'm going to press Shift+p to add a position property and turn on the stopwatch. What I want to do now is adjust the overall length of my composition. So let's choose Composition Settings and check the duration of this logo. I think I want a 12 second animation, so entering 1200 resets the duration. When you do that, you may need to extend the length of all your layers. Easy way to do that is to choose Select All, Cmd or Ctrl-A, and you can just drag those out to the play head.
Alright, let's go back to just that letter R for a second there, and we'll move forward to the 15 frame mark, half a second. What I want to do here is add two more key frames, so I click to enable them. Do not click the stop watch to disable key frames. Once I've done that, I can adjust the scale back to a 100%, and you see if we play that, the letter flies in. Well, that's looking pretty good, but I want to have that move off the frame a little bit.
So let's drag that through, and it lands. Well, I've just created a very simple animation that works really well. Let's click the Preview button to watch it. That looks good. We've animated a single layer. Let's move on to animating multiple layers, and we can reuse some of the work we've already done. I'll click on the word position to select the key frames, and Shift+click to select the scale frames. Note they're now highlighted. And I could choose Edit>Copy. Now, I'll select the rest of the word raster.
Shift clicking selects all of those letters, and you can now choose Edit>Paste. If you want to see those keyframes, press the letter u on the keyboard. Note they're working pretty well, but they're definitely pixelated so don't forget about that important option for continuously rasterize. The good news is, is you could just click and drag straight down to enable that for all layers. Okay, if we play that right now, they all fall in. But I see a slight problem.
The position is wrong. Note that all the letters are landing on top of each other. Let's go back a few steps. Instead of changing position, I want to change the anchor point. This is going to make it easier to animate things relatively. Notice that position here is absolute. So I'll press Shift+a to add the anchor point. And on all of these letters, the anchor point tends to be exactly the same because they're very similar in shape and size. So that's going to make it very easy to reuse that property.
Okay, I'll disable Position, and instead enable Anchor Point. And let's go forward to 15 frames again. And adjust the scale back down to 100. And we'll add a key frame for Anchor Point. Now, we'll slide that off with anchor point, so it moves to the side and clears the frame. Looks fairly similar, in fact I like the animation a bit better, because it tends to hover and move in with a little bit more organic of a move. Alright, same thing, click on the words and Shift+click to select both properties and not position, we don't want to change that value.
I can now choose Edit>Copy and target these other layers and choose Edit>Paste. Note that they now land in the correct position. So it was important that I did not paste the position value but only the anchor point. Okay. All these need to be continuously rasterized and we can preview. And you see they fall in as a group. But I don't want them to land at the exact same time. Well, let's stagger those by selecting the letter r, and the whole range through the r2, we can offset these.
Let's check out frame rate for a second under Composition Settings, and note my frame rate is not a video frame rate. So, I'll adjust that to broadcast spec of 29.97 and click OK. That still works okay. Everything is timed out. But right now those key frames are a little bit off for time. Ao let's go back here to 15 frames and just select those key frames and drag them in. You see I purposely chose the wrong settings and then showed you how to get around it to make it easier to move and nudge key frames.
Those can simply be dragged. So now this is the right frame rate, and a half second move. But, they're not staggered. Well that's easy. This is a 12 second composition, and I have a 15 frame animation. That's half a second. I'll choose Animation>Keyframe Assistant>Sequence Layers. And in this case we'll overlap these 11, 15. In other words, it's a 12 second composition, and so by overlapping by 11.5 seconds, I will get a staggered sequence.
Now watch. And they fly in. However, notice an interesting problem. The r seems to be sitting on top of the a. Well to get around this, we need to play with stacking order. In this case, since I'm not animating on the z axis, I'm going to just simply restack these and reverse the stacking order so the subsequent letters fall on top of the previous ones. Now let's take a look. Looks pretty good. They fly in. To enhance this, I can add a bit of motion blur.
Motion blur makes things look realistic. I'll turn this on for those layers, and then enable it globally with the global switch up top. Now when we preview, you'll see that there's a bit of blur making it look photo realistic as it lands.
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- Acquiring logo files
- Understanding what file formats are supported
- Sizing a vector logo in Photoshop or Illustrator
- Saving a logo with transparency
- Importing a logo into After Effects
- Animating layers
- Extruding a logo in 3D
- Rendering the animation
- Creating cast reflections and cast shadows
- Filling a logo with a pattern
- Adding rays and glows