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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®.
- Grouping layers by nesting and pre-composing
- Identifying and solving render order issues
- Navigating composition hierarchies
- Editing a precomp while viewing the result in another composition
- Preserving the frame rate of a nested composition
Skill Level Intermediate
Chris Meyer: Back in the first chapter in this lesson, we went ahead and took this Muybridge sequence, replicated it eight times across a wide composition, staggered the timing, arranged it nicely, and used that group as an element in a final DV sized compositions. But obviously, something is lacking like background, title, all sorts of element. Let's go through a few steps to convert this into a promo or an show opener. Now, in the exercise files that came with this project, we gave you several abstract backgrounds to play with: this Alien Atmospheres lighting effect, very interesting, this Code Rage which has a very busy modern grungy look, and Digital Web, which despite having the web name which you would think would be modern has a very old tiny look with this vignette and very strong vertical elements.
Now this might actually go nicely with this background, because Muybridge has an old type look. So vignetting might be a nice touch and it also has a very vertical orientation to it. So let's start by putting Digital Web behind the Muybridge sequence. Okay, that's the start but it's a bit plain. We would like to layer together, particularly stock footage, because even though a person might recognize one stock footage layer, they rarely recognize two of them blended together. There's Code Rage on its own. This is a bit strong.
Now as we told you in the early After Effects Apprentice lessons, just opacity blending tends to be a bit washed out and not very interesting. Far more interesting is to go ahead and make sure that the Modes panel is toggled opened and used blending modes to combine your layers. Our first go-to is usually Overlay or something in that intensifier section. That's actually not to bad. However, don't be afraid to experiment a little bit. In addition to these modes which increase contrast and saturation, you might want to make the composite lighter or darker.
I think I want to go darker, because this Muybridge sequence is fairly dark in its own right. The main mode in that group is Multiply. I'll widen this up, so you can read these better. And that's okay. We should have a little popped to it personally. So let's go ahead and try Color Burn which is more colorful version. Now, we have some very interesting burned out colors there. Might even be too intense. So I'm going to try Linear Burn, which is a compromise between Multiply and Color Burn, and I'll blend Opacity to taste.
That looks kind of nice, but I always check more than one frame. Yeah, it's a little too dominant later on so let me back it off a little bit. Maybe somewhere around there, where we can still see the vertical elements of Digital Web somewhat clearly. And we can always tweak these things later as we build up more layers and see things in context. Okay, now that we have a nice colorful background, the Muybridge sequence is looking frankly a bit on the stark side. So maybe we should do something to blend it even better or even change it's color to better complement the background.
Again, you can try modes. Since I'm already using a mode in the multiply group to blend to get to my backgrounds, let's try one of these in this case as well. I try Multiply and it's far more interesting than the black and white opaque Muybridge. But again, I wouldn't mind being a little more colorful a little bit more intense. Color Burn may be a little too intense. Again, Linear Burn is not too bad of a compromise. That's pretty nice, because I get to see the colors of my background through the light areas of the Muybridge sequence, but I still keep the black of that graft background.
Of course you can go further and colorize the Muybridge sequence to blend it even better. There's lots of great effects to do colorization. A good go-to in this case, something like Tritone because that will keep your black and white point intact and you can use the eyedropper to pick other colors that you maybe already have and play around with those to get something harmonious. So that's one approach. Another approach is to try other color correction effects. For example, in the After Effects Apprentice book we had you try out Color Correction > Channel Mixer, which gives you a lot of control over how each of the red, green, and blue channels contribute.
For example, maybe I want this a bit more red to match the background. So I'll increase the red contribution. Maybe something a little bit more orangey might work as well, to go ahead and mix with these areas. As it so happens, blue is a complementary color to yellow. Yellow plus red is orange. So by removing blue, I will shift this more towards a yellow orange range. You can see if I add blue, we are getting a bit of magenta tone in there and that's not what I want. Something more yellow and orange. Right in that area it should work. Maybe in that area, maybe a little less intense like around there, and I'll beef up the red a little bit. Okay, I like that.
Nice colors. The composite's looking a bit on the flat side. Easy enough to fix. I can either use Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow or even one of the glows or good old fashioned Effect > Perspective > Drop Shadow. Add a little bit more distance so it can really pop there. Add some softness, make it little bit more subtle. Distance bounces off. Maybe a little less intense. Something in there around I kind of like. Now it stands out a little bit from the background. It has a bit more distinction.
So I have a fairly cool background and I have a fairly cool foreground in terms of Muybridge, but eventually I'm going to add some text here for the title of the show and even though the Muybridge sequence is cool, I don't necessarily want the viewer staring at that if I want them actually looking at my title. So it's not a bad idea to go ahead and add another layer on top of everything to help unify the layers. For something like that I'd like to use what I refer to as lighting layers such as this Alien Atmospheres. I'll go ahead and drag that on top of my composite.
Again, try different modes to blend it in. Overlay again is one of my starting points, but you can always try other things in the group. Soft Light is less severe, Hard Light is more severe, too severe in this case, or there's other variations like this Vivid Light which gives some really nice rice intense colors. I think I like that. Press T for transparency, back it off a little bit so it's just in that realm without width. I can keep this blue tinge that Alien Atmospheres is bringing to the party or I can go ahead and play around with this color correction again.
Never be afraid of using effects to harmonize colors and blend layers together. You could go ahead and just use Hue/ Saturation and bend it's color, to get something that's maybe more appropriate like yellow or orange. Or maybe you just to want to use this as a lighting effect. Remove any color contribution. Tint at its default is a great way of turning a layer into a grayscale image and then just use it for its luminence contributions. I press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM preview. Afew more layers.
It's going to take a little longer to preview here. And there's our final animation. And this is nice. I think this is becoming nice and unified. I've got a combination of all the new themes, their colors are harmonious, I have some separation between the Muybridge and it's background, but I've also unified things with this nice lighting effect layer, which has helped further tie together the elements and added more movement to my final composite. Now, of course I can keep going, so just adding a title here and we have a whole After Effects Apprentice lesson on setting up type and animation, and actually I am going to leave that for you to do.
Go ahead and come up with a nice font, create a nice title. Maybe add an animation to it, either a preset or your own animation. Make sure that you turn on the grid and grid guide Title/Action Safe to keep your title inside the safe area. Or if you just want to see what we came up with, go back to the Project panel, open up Comps_Finished and look at Human_Main_final. This is what we did in terms of animating in type and go ahead and play this animation in general to see what we ended up with. Again, there is no one right answer.
The whole point is to express your creativity and have some fun.