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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®.
- Sliding and trimming
- Slip-editing and insert-editing layers
- Employing blending modes to enhance layers and composites
- Applying, modifying, and saving animation presets and layer styles
- Using adjustment layers to affect multiple layers
- Experimenting with effects using Brainstorm
- Understanding pixel aspect ratios
Skill Level Beginner
One of the best things about animation presets in After Effects is that you can use them to save your own favorite configurations of effects and apply those configurations to other layers or other pieces of footage. If you have the Exercise Files in this project, switch to the Project panel and open up comp 08 - Save Preset*starter. If you don't have the Exercise Files, just create a comp. with, you know, any piece of footage because we are just going to be applying some effects. My goal here is to create an interesting transition effect to dissolve out of this footage in an interesting way and reveal something else.
After playing around I've decided to use a Radial Blur. So I am going to type in radial blur. Since I don't have any footage selected in this comp, double-clicking the effect does not do anything. After Effects does not know what to apply it to. But I can just drag it onto piece of footage in the Comp panel, and now it will be applied. The Effects Control panel will come forward automatically, and I get to see the custom UI for Radial Blur. I can change the Blur Amount. I can drag around the center of the blur to where I want it to be.
Right here in the sky kind of works for me, and change the type of blur. Zoom out from the center, and you might want to use a higher blur amount for that, or a Spin Blur. And that usually looks better with smaller blur amounts. You can drag this slider interactively or just go ahead and scrub the amount value, right around there I kind of like. As I mentioned, I want to use this as a sort of transition effect. I want to create an amount of spin that I like, like say I like that much. Then I am going to enable keyframing for the Amount.
This will automatically set my first keyframe down in the timeline. If I want to verify that's there, I'll select my layer and press U to reveal all animating properties. Say that I decide I want to come out of this blur fairly leisurely, like maybe over 4 seconds. I can click to relocate to my Current Time Indicator, or click on the time display directly and enter the time I want to go to. Regardless, I am going to go ahead and scrub the Amount value down to zero, automatically setting the second keyframe. I can do this in the Timeline panel, or in the Effect Controls panel.
I am going to move my Current Time Indicator just little bit pass my second keyframe. Press N to end my work area here, then press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM preview it. And this is going to be my transition out of this effect. Radial Blur takes little while to calculate, but here it is at full speed. Okay, the Radial Blur is something, but you know, I think it also would create a better time travel look if I also came out of some sort of colorization or tint or something as I came out of the blur.
That could be a better transition from dream world to current world. I am going to press Home to locate the start of the clip where I am the most blurred, and now I'm going to look for some sort of tinting effect. I'll click on the X to clear out my previous search and type tint. And there is the Tint effect. Now that my layer is selected, I just need to double-click it and it will be applied to that layer. The default of Tint is to create a nice black and white image. And that's kind of nice standard look for back in time. A lot of people do their dream sequences in black and white and do the present day in color.
I want to keyframe this to take the same amount of time as my blur. So I enable keyframing for Amount to Tint. I am going to use my Keyframe Navigator down here in the Timeline to go to my second Radial Blur keyframe. And now with the exact same time, I am going to go ahead and scrub the Amount of Tint down to 0 to go back to full color image. Press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM preview it. And now I got my transition out of a black and white Radial Blur world to a color, sharply focused world.
Okay, that's my transition. Once you have something that you like, you might even want to make sure that you save your project or even better, use the File > Increment and Save command so that you have the previous version underneath an older version number in your new version underneath a brand new version number, like Version 2. Say that I like this transition and I think I would like to reuse it on this job and apply it to more than one piece of footage. To do that, first I need to select all of the effects involved in my transition. I clicked on Radial Blur, and I will Shift+Click on Tint so that both effects were selected.
Selecting an effect selects all of the parameters of that effect, including any keyframes applied to those parameters. If I wanted just an individual parameter, I would just need to click on the parameter alone. And now to save an animation preset I can either go to the Animation menu and choose Save Animation Preset, or I can click on this icon down in the lower right corner of the Effects & Presets panel. The one that looks like a document. I'll click on that. And I'll be given a chance to save my animation preset.
Now After Effects Palette changes from version to version where it defaults the Save. What I like to do, is find the Presets folder for Adobe After Effects and then create my own folder. I might even name that folder based on the project that I am working on. Let's say that this is a documentary, so I might type New York City documentary. Create, and now I will give my animation preset a name that I am likely to remember. Don't give these funky names that you'll never figure out later on.
You might even be boring call it radial blur + grayscale transition. Lots of good keywords there to remember. And click Save. I'll clear my previous search, twirl open the Animation Presets folder. If I can't see that by the way, you just reveal it underneath the Effects & Presets options menu. And there is New York City documentary and there is my animation preset. Okay, now I want to apply this to a brand new piece of footage.
I'll go back to my Project panel, and open up a different comp, in this case, 09 - Apply Preset*starter. If you don't have the Exercise Files, just create a new comp with a different piece of footage. Select the footage you want to apply your preset to, move the Current Time Indicator to the time where you want any keyframes to begin. The first keyframe will be placed at the Current Time Indicator. If it's way down here at the end of your comp, that's where the first keyframe is going to be. This is one of the most common beginner mistakes when applying presets.
I want this to apply at the very beginning of my clip. So I'll press Home. Then go get my preset and either double- click it or drag it onto the desired footage. Once I do that, I see my Spin Blur and my grayscale. To reveal keyframes, I'll press U. To reveal any parameters that have been changed from the defaults, I'll press U-U, two Us in quick succession. That's where I get to see that I've also changed the center of this preset. Move my time indicator a little bit later, N to end my workspace, RAM preview.
Again, Radial Blur does take a little bit to calculate here. And there we go. And now I have my transition. You can edit any preset by the way, just like you would edit anything else inside After Effects. There's nothing special about them. It's as if you copied and paste them. For example, say that I want my Blur center to be in a little bit different place. Maybe around this walk, don't walk sign. No problem. I'll go up to Radial Blur in the Effects & Presets panel, click on my center, and drag it up to where that walk sign is, right there.
And now my transition will be centered around that sign. Kind of a cool effect. So Animation Presets are really nice tool inside After Effects. If you're just getting started, Adobe's own presets that they supply with the program may be good starting points. But as you get better and start creating your own secret recipes, save them, keep them, reuse them on future projects. They will save a lot of time.