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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 library.
- Animating to music
- Arranging layers in 3D space
- Performing time stretches
- Working with 3D camera tracking
- Typesetting and animating text
- Adding effects like drop shadows and motion blur
- Creating and animating shape layers
- Building and delivering a broadcast package
Skill Level Intermediate
In the end, I've decided to go ahead and create five copies of my Vital Signs shape layer animation and I arranged them in 3D space interspersed in and out of my different lab results' text. I also renamed them Vitals Signs, one, two, three, four, and five so I could keep track at them in the Timeline panel. We are just starting to get pretty full and pretty busy now. Let's see what this animation looks like so far. I'll switch back to 1 View temporarily, put my cursor over the Comp panel and type the Tilde key so you can see this as a full resolution. (music playing) That's pretty nice.
I'm going to press Tilde to go back to my normal display, and return to 4 Views-Bottom. However, one problem is that those Vital Signs are a bit too obvious right now. I could blur them and reduce their opacity to go ahead and match the Lab Results layers. But you know what would it be even better? What if the amount of the blur for these signs was timed to the music? Well, we could keyframe that based on all of these markers, or we can use some automated functions in After Effects to help do this blurring in response to music for us.
I am going to deselect my layers, and the first thing I'm going to do is ask After Effects to use a Keyframe Assistant and covert the audio levels to a set of keyframes. By doing that, we'll have some values that we could either paste over to blur for our layers or even better use to drive expressions to help us automate that blur. So I Convert Audio To Keyframes, I will get a new layer called Audio Amplitude. It is a null object. You see this red box in the Comp panel. I'll turn off Visibility for now because I don't need that and I'll type "U" to reveal all of its keyframe parameters.
This gives me separate streams of keyframes for the left channel, the right channel and an average on both channels. And I see these values are bumping between close to zero and I think I saw things even in the 40s at one point there. I don't really need all of this detail, I mean you could animate things separately to left and right but just to clean up my display, I'm going to go ahead and delete left and right since I'm running out of real estate here. But one thing I think I would like is maybe some control, a master control over how much I'm going to blur by.
To do that, I'm going add Effect>Expression Controls, these are dummy controls just user interface items, they don't render any pixels that you can then wire into your expressions. I am going to set a slider control and change its name to "Maximum Blur". Okay. Now let's pick one of these Vital Sign layers that's visible. And again, I think I'll go to 1 View so I can see things in more detail, and more resolution and start setting up a blur for it. I'll do Effect>Blur & Sharpen>Box Blur, come to like this because it's so flexible, test its blur look.
That's kind of nice, but one nice thing about blurs i s they tend to have these blur dimensions. If I blur just in one dimension such as vertical up and down. I can see my shape a lot more clearly. It's blurred but it isn't just the cloud of pixels at this point. It's something where I can make up the waveform and it looks more interesting. Okay, that's cool. Now before I create an expression, I need to see everything I want to wire that expression to. I want to wire it to the Audio Amplitude and I want to wire it to this Maximum Blur slider.
Okay, the next thing I want to do is control the blur radius, the depths of blur. So hold down Option on Mac, Alt on Windows, click on the stopwatch and now an expression for it will be revealed down here in the Timeline panel. I want to use something known as a Linear Interpolation Expression. We cover this back in the Expressions Course. You can get at it underneath this expression language menu. I find this is one of those expressions I use so often, it's worth memorizing. It says I will make a linear interoperation, basically convert one series of numbers to another, and I need to enter five values inside a parenthesis.
What my master is, the range of my master, say 0 to 100 and then the range I'd like to end up going to, 0 to whatever my maximum blur is. Well, I'm following that amplitude for both channels. So I'll drag to that slider, type a comma to separate my numbers, and I don't really know what the real maximum of both channels is. I'm going to say it goes from zero at a minimum to let's say 100 as a maximum and comma again. And by the way, you might have trouble typing in your expressions because you're running out of room in the timeline panel.
If you accidentally click off you might getting an expression error. Don't worry, just click back on the expression, move your cursor to where you were and keep typing. Anyway, as both channels amplitude goes from 0 to 100, I want my blur to go from 0, to whatever this maximum blur slider says, that's why I created it in the first place. Now I'll type a closing parenthesis, type Enter and now I have an expression. My blur went away that's because my Maximum Blur slider defaulted to zero.
As I increase it, you'll see the blur on my nice little Vital Sign display changes as well. Let's drag the current time indicator through here to get an idea what these blurs look like. That's not a bad blur early on. Later on in here, where is my guy from Vital Signs two? There he is. That might be too much blur for later on. I can always keyframe the maximum blur amount to have more maximum blur early, when there's just the heartbeat, and less maximum blur later, when the music is louder.
But we'll just try this value for now. Once you've created one combination of an effect and an expression, you can copy the effect, and we'll go ahead and copy any attached expression as well. I'll select Vital Sign 1, and paste, and then pick my other ones and paste those as well. And now, all of my Vital Signs are being blurred in response to the music's amplitude. Great! The last thing I think I want to do though is I still want to knock down their opacity and maybe use an add mode like I did on these other results layers.
That's not a problem. I twirl these guys up so they're easier to read, reveal the opacity for all of them by pressing T, scrub them down to where they blend in nicely with the background, somewhere around there and finally, toggle switches and modes and put them in Add mode. And once I've done, so I might want to tweak my opacity a little bit, but that actually looks pretty good. Now that I've done these changes, let's go ahead and RAM Preview one more time. I put my cursor over to Comp panel to say this is panel I want to see.
Press the Tilde key to zoom up to maximum display and RAM Preview to see how my expression is working. I don't think I'm going to bother to preview the whole thing. I just want to get an idea of whether or not I like it. (music playing) I think we're getting a really close to the point where we can show the client a proof.
But first, let's make a few more tweaks just to go ahead and clean some things up and then we'll render that proof for the client. I'll tap the Tilde key one last time to go back to my normal display, and of course remember to Increment and Save.