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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
So this is the idea corner. The idea is, you just play "what if?" you experiment with some of the timing, maybe add some more animation to some of the other layers, and just see what you end up with. Now I don't know what I am going to end up with, so the first thing I will do is I'll File > Increment and Save. That way I will have a new version in case I make a big mess. Another thing you could do is select the composition, and Command+D to duplicate it. Not only will you have a version of your original comp, but this is also an easy way to make variations.
This is all about experimentation, so don't be afraid to try things. I have only two elements animating: the title, and the snowflake. They also don't quite synchronize. I will select all the layers and press U; that will reveal all of the keyframes that are applied. You can see that I purposely let the title animate a little ahead of the snowflake. I could synchronize these keyframes. Now the snowflake and title stop at exactly the same time. The problem with this though is that I have slowed down the title.
So let me undo that, and here's another way you can synchronize keyframes. Take the entire layer and move it 10 frames to the right. Now the keyframes will synchronize, but the speed of the snowstorm layer will be the same. I think an obvious thing to do is to animate the red solid and even the video layers. I will select the red solid, hit Home, and press UU to see if I've changed any of the properties. When I say UU I mean I'm pressing the U shortcut twice in quick succession.
That reveals all properties that are not at their default values. So you can see that I have changed the position from the default center, and I've also reduced the Opacity to 75%. So let's say I moved to this frame where all of the other keyframes are, and I turn on the stopwatch for Position. I will return to 0, and I will scrub the Y value so it appears above the composition. I will RAM-preview that, and see if I like that. Now this has promise, but I find I'm not sure what to look at first.
If I look at the red solid, I sort of missed the snowflake animation. And if I focus on the snowflake, I'm still distracted by the red solid. I think it will be better if I sequence them so that the animated solid happens first, and then my eye can follow the snowflake. So let me go to maybe 20 frames, and I'll move the keyframe for the solid back. Then I will take the two layers, the Snowflake and the Title, and I'll move those later in time.
Now I will have to kind of guess, and then we will see what it looks like. No, that's not too bad. Now my eye can look at the solid and then follow the snowflake down into position. Let's see what we could do with these videos. Let's twirl up all the other layers, and we will just concentrate on the two video layers. Let's start with scale. They are already scaled to 40%, so let's say I scale them up over one second.
Let's just see how that looks. I will go to one second, turn on their stopwatches, press Home, select both layers, and type zero. A little bit too much going on. I don't like the fact they are skating together at the same time, and they're also distracting us from looking at the snowflake. Again, this is just a timing issue. Let's say I go to 15 frames, and the movie on the left is a snowboarder, so I will pull that keyframe over, and I will pull that keyframe over to 15, and then we'll see how that looks.
A little more promising. Still too much going on in the first second. So let's wait until the second video is finished, and then we will start the title. Let's see what that looks like. Getting there. I also don't know if I like the fact that one video stops and then the other one starts. They look a little bit fast, considering the speed the title is moving at, so let's overlap the speed.
Let's take our snowboarder, and he can move for 20 frames, and the other movie then will also move for 20 frames. So now they are overlapping their timing. That's kind of promising. I might in fact save this as version 8, and then Increment and Save to version 9. Maybe we will try something else. And these again are all examples that you can show your boss or your client, and maybe they'll have other ideas, and you can eventually arrive at the final animation.
Now since we have a solid bar across the top, it could animate from left to right. So let's take our solid bar, press U to see what keyframes it has. Now, animating down a few pixels in 20 frames is a pretty good speed. But if I was going to animate it all the way across, I would probably want to give it a lot more time than that. Let's move his keyframe over to about there, one second 20 frames. So let's go back to zero, and I'll remove that keyframe.
That will make a jump to the same position as the keyframe later in time. Now it's easier for me to drag it adding the Shift key. It's quite interesting. I quite like that. I think it should fade up though. So let's add Shift+T, turn on the stopwatch so it's at 75% in sync with the Position keyframe, and then maybe make it say 25%. So, there is a little bit more of a fade-up over time.
Now what we have is we have a very strong left-to-right motion, so it would make sense for these videos to do something that echoed this bar. Like perhaps, as the bar comes across, the first video comes on, and as the bar continues to move, second video comes on, but maybe not scaling, maybe just a fade-up. So let's take these scale keyframes, and we will remove them. Now when you are removing keyframes-- for instance, I have my first keyframe is at zero and my second keyframe is at 40%-- if this is the size I want it to remain at, I want to be sure I turn off the stopwatch when I am parked on this keyframe, or anywhere later when the value was at 40%.
So when I turn off the stopwatch, this will be the value I have for the entire composition. Since I'm already past this keyframe, I can turn off the stopwatch for the second video as well. So let's just look at fading. Maybe they just need to fade up. Maybe feedback I was getting was that the animation was getting a little bit busy. So that's about where the first video could be finished, so we will say about 25 frames, and this is the snowboarder, so we will turn on the opacity at 25 frames. Go back to zero.
Change the opacity to 0%. Now as the bar comes across, the first video fades up. And it's going to fade up over 25 frames. Since I have already created these opacity keyframes, here is a nice little tip: click on the word Opacity, and it will select both keyframes. I will copy and I will decide at what point my second video should be finished-- perhaps around here, about 115. So if I back up 25 frames, so, 10, 10, 1, 2,3,4,5, this will be where my car in snow should start fading up.
So I will paste those opacity keyframes here. Now, let's see what this looks like. Now, it doesn't mean that this is better than version 8. It just means it's another alternative animation. Sometimes it's nice to show your boss or client a few options, so they can either go in one direction or another. At this point, I think that the title could even be a little bit later. So let's take our two title layers, then we will just move those a little bit later.
Now let's press U to see what the keyframes are, see if it's worth synchronizing anything. Maybe they start at one second. And now I have to make sure I have enough time at the end to read the title before it's finished. I think I just about got away with it, but I might want to back it up five frames. The last thing you want to do is to have the viewer not have time to read the title. So I hope you had fun creating your first animation in After Effects.
Next, I will offer a few bonus movies that will go into more detail on some of the features we've touched upon in this lesson.