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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 Online Training Library®.
- Starting a project from scratch
- Building a composition
- Arranging and transforming layers interactively and numerically
- Animating parameters including motion paths
- Applying and re-using effects
- Creating variations and rendering the final movie
- Importing layered Photoshop files
- Understanding alpha channels
- Avoiding common mistakes
Skill Level Beginner
I'm going to leave you with one good piece of advice, and that's about switches. On my first day in a class, I always have a few students who just like to click switches. They don't seem to do anything, but they click them anyway, and that's fine. I like to make people explore and ask questions. But I have one rule: if you turn on the switch, and it doesn't seem to do anything, put it back in the position it was originally in. It will do something; you just haven't created the right environment yet.
Now, some switches are pretty obvious. A lock switch, well, that looks like a lock switch. So when you try to move the layer, when you try to animate it, it's flashing at you, and it will probably remember, oh yeah, maybe that lock switch locked the layer and now I can't edit it. But there are other switches that are not that obvious. For instance, the shy layer, this little guy, Kilroy we call him, you turn that on and nothing seems to happen. It's like okay. And then the next day, you are working with your project and you click this switch, and suddenly your layer disappears from the Timeline.
You don't make the connection between the two switches; you think that this switch makes layers disappear. That's not true. It's only when both switches are enabled. This is the shy switch. It says if a layer is shy, and you turn on the master shy switch, that layer will be hidden in the Timeline. Other switches, something really obvious will happen. Like the adjustment layer switch, the layer will disappear and you will go hm, let's turn that off again. Later on I can learn how that works. As we go through this series, we will go through all of these switches and you will learn what each one does in context.
Now I will leave you with one switch that has a nice warning message when you try to turn it off. It's called Live Update, and the first time you try to turn it off, it gives you this big, nasty warning message. And I am not surprised, because I am sure Adobe, this must be their number one tech support issue, and that's why this warning message appears now. In the earlier version, you have got no warning. So people would turn off the switch, not know what it did, and then they would think After Effects was broken.
So let me explain what it does. Because it's only going to give you a warning once per session, and someone might be using your computer and change it to Never Again, and you'll never again get this warning message. So I will click OK, and now you will see that as I am scrubbing my Timeline, After Effects is not showing me that animation I just created. As I am scrubbing this value, I can see handles are moving, but the layer is not scaling. Until I release the mouse, I don't see the result. The same with Rotation; the handles are moving, but I have to release the mouse first before I see the result. Same with Position.
I just assume I have broken the program, so I reinstall it and I get on tech support and I am on the forums, and I didn't make the connection between a switch that I turned off, maybe an hour ago, that didn't seem to do anything. So switches do have consequences, and especially Live Update. So if you didn't know what that meant, it just means that it turns off this Live Update. So when you make changes, I have to release the mouse first before I see the result. Sometimes that's actually useful, especially if you have a very slow computer and you're changing something with lots of effects, and it's just not interactive anyway. But you can get the same result by holding down the Option key, so you can temporarily override Live Update.
That's a better way to go, I think, than turning off the switch. So I hope this advice was useful. Again, in your first day with After Effects, or your first project, that's a little overwhelming, so hopefully some of these tips will help you avoid the little common "gotchas" that trip you up.