Join Mark Christiansen for an in-depth discussion in this video Motion graphics and video terminology, part of After Effects CC 2018 Essential Training: The Basics.
- [Instructor] There are a number of terms you may already know, but not every viewer of this course will. For that reason, I wanted one place to briefly define each of them, so that during the course, I can focus on showing them to you in context. Keyframe is a term you'll hear me use a lot, because I use keyframes a lot in AfterEffects. This is, basically, the ability to set one set of values on one frame, let a few frames go by, and set another set of values on another frame, and then help the computer to determine what the in-between frames will do.
I say "Help the computer" because it's not necessarily a linear progression, but you are letting the computer fill in the blanks. Timecode is a term you're probably familiar with, but let's get really specific. Traditional timecode is expressed in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames, and it lets you go straight to the exact frame of a video. You can also have timecode expressed as just numerical frames, which is traditionally how it's done in the visual effects business.
Codec is a word that comes from compression and decompression, and it describes exactly what's happening. When a codec is applied to a video file that is written, it is compressed, which, generally speaking, makes it smaller, but also makes it a very specific compression format. And then, decompressed, so that it can be seen on the device. A render, here's a term that you'll hear not just in AfterEffects, but in 3D applications. This is a process whereby the finished work is output as a file.
That could be some sort of moving image file, like a QuickTime. It could be a still image sequence. You could even render a single frame. This can also be used as a noun. "My render is stuck." An alpha channel is something that occurs quite a bit specifically in AfterEffects. An image, as you know, has a red, green, and blue channel, but it can also have a fourth alpha channel, which determines the transparency of pixels, how transparent or opaque each one of them is.
AfterEffects was built on the idea of this fourth channel, and throughout the application, you can take a look at all four of those channels, red, green, blue, and alpha, to see what's going on not only with color, but with transparency. Now we're getting into visual effects terms. A green screen, which we've all heard of, is actually a background that is a solid color, usually green or blue, because those are digitally pure and not like skin tones.
It is removed to create transparency. This is something that is done on the computer. It's sometimes called chroma keying. I prefer to hear it called color keying, because, to me, chroma keying is the guy on the news standing in front of the weather map. Rotoscoping is a term that came out of Disney animation. It used to be when they would create an animation that was meant to be overlaid onto live action film, they would have to carefully trace around objects to do that.
That is still the way that you remove the background from footage in order to insert it into other footage if you don't have something like color keying available. I'll add that AfterEffects has some automatic tools to help you do this, but this is still, by and large, a manual process. A motion track is something that a computer does to track something in a scene that is moving.
It could be a moving object, which is tracked to be a two-dimensional point that you can then link other layers or objects to. Or it could be a full camera track, which actually three-dimensionally tracks how the scene is moving when it was shot with a camera that, say it was handheld or on a dolly, or otherwise moving around. Color correction is a little bit of a misnomer, because there is no such thing as correct color, per se. Color is completely subjective.
But color correction implies that the color is being made better, and there are a couple of ways to do that. One is to actually just fix problems with it, like the blacks are too light, or I can't see her face. Or, it can be actually improving the image by giving the color more of the mood and emotion that is meant for the scene. That is what colorists do in the film and television industry.
Here are three terms wrapped together. There's the compositor, there is the composite, and there is the composition. I started by defining composite, which is just a combination of elements from many different sources in one place. A composite image takes images that might have been shot at different times and puts them together into one image. The compositor is the artist who makes that image, and a composition, of course, could be a work of art, like Mozart's great composition, but it also in AfterEffects is actually the creative unit.
The composition is the thing that you create that comes out of AfterEffects looking like something we've never seen before. We could call it a shot, we could call it a sequence, but in AfterEffects, it's a composition. Okay, motion graphics is what I like to think of as an abstract art. It uses elements that you create, like text and graphics. It could also use elements that you shoot with a camera, but the point is that you're free to use them however you like to conceal and reveal and create delight and surprises.
If you want to think of a classic example of motion graphics, look at virtually any television commercial that has text in it, and look at how they reveal that text. Now, visual effects is sometimes thought of as the opposite of motion graphics in the world of AfterEffects, but, in fact, I can think of many examples that use both. However, while motion graphics is about making things fanciful and made-up and I've-never-seen-them-before, visual effects is usually concerned more with helping you suspend disbelief while watching a movie or other visual story.
It takes disparate elements and puts them together in a shot in a way that is believable in the context of that story. Now, if that story itself is very fanciful and imaginative, then the visual effects might look more like motion graphics. Most, if not all of these terms, will be referred to somewhere in this course, but they're also useful shorthands for you to know when you start working in AfterEffects and in the video post-production business.
- Six foundations of After Effects
- Setting up a composition
- Working with layers
- Animating compositions
- Applying effects, including lights
- Working in 3D
- Rendering projects