Learn the Interface and Workspace in After Effects CS6
Introducing the interface and the workspace
Just imagine how cool it would be if you could rearrange the living room in your house based on what you wanted to do at the flip of a switch. If you wanted to play video games on the Wii, the coffee table and the rug would slide out of the room to be replaced with a wide open clean hardwood floor. Or for movie night, now the floor is lush wall-to-wall carpeting and surround sound speakers flip out. Now your couch is replaced with stadium seating. I know it sounds a little like the Jetsons but really, that's what Adobe has given us with the ability to make workspaces inside of After Effects.
And as I'm sure many of you know, After Effects has a myriad of uses from motion graphic design to visual effects, and each different job usually requires different panels to be available. The first time you start After Effects, you'll probably see this Welcome window. I just want to kind a point some things out here really quick. In the window, you could open up recent projects or open up a project off your hard drive or create a new composition. One thing that I recommend that you do when you're starting with After Effects, leave this option at the bottom selected.
This way every time you launch After Effects not only will you see this Welcome screen but you'll see a tip of the day. Now since I want to have a blank project I'm just going to choose Close for right now. And let's look at the interface. Now if your interface doesn't look like this, what you need to do is go to the upper right-hand corner of your After Effects window and you'll see this Workspace pulldown. Mine is set to Standard. If you click on that what you want to do is make sure that yours is set to Standard.
And if it is, and it still doesn't match what we're looking at, what you need to do is actually reset that workspace. So at the bottom here where it says Reset Standard, click on that and what that does--any changes you may have made to that layout, this will just blow that away and load it up as though you had just installed the software. This is really important to pay attention to as you're following the rest of this course because if you ever notice that these panels are different, you'll want to go up to the upper right-hand corner and make sure that we're actually working in the same workspace.
To understand the basic workflow of the interface, we need to learn a little bit about compositions. Now don't worry I'm going to have an entire video dedicated to this very shortly, but for right now, to make a composition, you want to start in the upper left corner of the After Effects interface. See in the Project panel, there's this button in the bottom looks sort of like a film strip with some shapes on it. If you click on that, that will open your comp settings to create a new composition. Now like I said, this is pretty detailed so we'll get to this in the next video.
For now, let's go ahead and press Cancel. I want to show you the basic circular workflow that I typically work in, in After Effects. So to do that, let's go up under File and I'm going to Open Recent Projects and open my 01_02_Workspace project. Once that project is open, you can see in the Project panel in the upper left corner I have two compositions. I also have folders. See in the Project panel, you can organize anything that you bring in to After Effects and put them in subfolders.
Whenever you double-click a composition, it will open up the corresponding timeline and Comp panel, so you can see exactly how the project is built. So just to show you what I'm talking about, let's double-click this Logo 3D Spin comp. See when I double-click, notice now in the timeline here I have a whole new timeline, and this specific project actually has 3D in it. I know that because there's a camera and there are some lights. Also in the upper right-hand corner of the comp window, I can see that I have a different renderer called the Ray-trace Renderer.
And don't worry, again, if you're not understanding exactly what renderers are, we will get to that. Right now just sort of focus on exactly how this workflow goes. So you want to start in the upper left, open up your compositions, you can make changes to your Layers panel, and you will see those things updated in the comp window. You can click on objects directly in the comp window and reposition them, and it will select to those objects in the Layers panel, or the Timeline panel because they are directly related.
I'm just going to press Command+Z and undo that last move, and there's one last thing I want to show you about the interface. Notice as I click on each one these panels, I'm getting this bright orange outline. That's letting to know that that panel is active. So sometimes when you go up to these menus at the top of After Effects, you may not get one of the options that you're looking for, and that's because these menus will highlight the things that you can work with based on the specific panel that you have selected.
Notice as I click around, I'm getting slightly different options based on what I have selected in the different menus. Lastly, with workspaces, most of the time you'll see me working in the Standard workspace but sometimes if you're doing specific workflows, you want to actually adjust how the panels are set up. So I might switch to the Text setting to set a bunch of text in my project. So let's click on that and see what that looks like. So here, notice now I have a Character panel where I can make adjustments to the typeface, a Paragraph panel where I could adjust how that type is laid out, and some of the other panels that were here before are now gone.
If you think that you need to actually customize the interface, there's a pretty easy way of doing that as well. See these little grippy buttons to the left of any of these panel tabs? These will allow you to grab those specific panels and move them around. So I want to be a little more efficient with my Text panels. I'm going to move my Paragraph panel up into the Character window, and here, notice as I move around, different areas of that panel are highlighting.
And basically what this is telling me is when I let go of this panel, it will drop into that corresponding space. So look what happens if I drop my Paragraph panel up here to the top where my Character panel is set. Now it's going to appear right behind the Character panel. If I clicked on these buttons again and drag down to let's say Effects, look what happens if I choose this kind of trapezoid shape at the top. Now it's moved it in between the two panels.
The rest of the interface is kind of sticky. It's really neat. As you move your mouse between all of the panels, the cursor will adjust based on what you're changing. So see how when I'm in the corner here, I can click and drag and actually adjust in multiple directions. Also notice how sometimes the panels will collapse giving you fewer or greater options based on how much you've dragged on the panels. If this is a setup that you like, you can go up to Workspace and create a New Workspace, and name it whatever you like, and then that will populate your Workspace options.
Now before we go, I want to change my Workspace back to Standard and then just to make sure that it's exactly the same as the default setting, I'm going to go to Reset Standard. And say Yes, and choose to reset to its original layout. So if there's one thing I want you to remember out of this specific video, definitely remember the workflow, but also as you're going throughout the course, make sure to pay attention to what workspace we're working in, that way you can make sure that your interface is always going to match exactly what we're doing at that specific point in time.
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