Join Mark Christiansen for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the exercise files, part of After Effects Compositing 02: Matching Foreground to Background.
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Before we get started, let's review the source files, formats, and plug-ins used in this course, and how to deal with each of them. We're also going to talk about how we came about choosing them. So to follow along with a given movie, just look for the name of the source project up here in the top bar. In this case, Source Formats.aep matches the project in this example file. You may see a warning like this one, that some files are missing. As you're already aware, After Effects works via project files into which you import source footage. If After Effects can't find the source footage, you get this warning.
It's no big deal. It just means that when you moved the files to your local drive, you probably put them some place a little bit nonstandard. To find which files are the missing ones, if you don't already see these color bar icons really clearly, just choose missing footage, and there they are. I'll right click and just choose replace footage file. And, here on my desktop, I happen to have that same file. I could, of course, search for it, if I can't find it. As soon as I open it, those other missing files that were just adjacent to that one in the same folder, are also found.
Now, let's talk a little bit about file formats. And which ones are the ones we most often use in a visual effects setting. In VFX it's really common to use image sequences. Other video professionals consider them, shall we say, inconvenient. Because there's not such a straightforward way to just double click, open and play them back. But they have a couple of really great benefits. Here we're using PNG sequences, another really common sequence would be a TIFF sequence, you can see we've got a TIFF still image here and a Photoshop.
So, those are three really great formats to use in VFX. With this pink sequence, the advantages are that if you are rendering from a number of different machines and this is a 3-D render of a skateboard. They can all just create their files individually, without worrying about stitching it all into a single QuickTime movie. Also, if one of the frames turn out to be bad, that's no problem, it doesn't ruin the whole movie. The way it does with QuickTime. QuickTime is still very convenient and it also compresses nicely with H264.
So, in cases where, footage originated as QuickTime, and, where the H264 compression isn't going to harm anything, we've gone ahead and used that. It just makes your download, a lot more, manageable. Now let's take a look at a different type of error you might see. In this project, I'm using a third party plug-in from Red Giant Software called Looks. And After Effects is warning me that this plug-in isn't installed. Now, if you see this error, there's no reason to panic. Because we've included third party plug-ins in this course.
But most of the course uses plug-ins included right in After Effects. We actually call those effects rather than plug-ins. If you are missing an effect, you can go ahead and download it from the source. So for example Red Giant lets you download a trial version of Looks then you could install that. You get a red x over your renders until you buy it. Or, you could just go ahead and say OK. And try your best with the lesson without having the effect installed.
In most cases, except for the ones where the entire movie is just based on the third-party plug-in, you'll be fine. Now here we have another missing footage warning, and I just want to call this one out because its a little different and it may come up for you. When I click OK you see the color bars here, and that indicates the missing footage. But if I choose missing footage here, nothing comes up. Well, this is an odd anomaly in After Effects. It's when you use a proxy file and it becomes unlinked.
A proxy file is a really elegant way to get around a slow rendering comp. So, if I turn it off and open up this comp. Go to a friend that's not already rendered. You can see that there's a little bit of a lag time, just getting that frame to render from Cinema 4D. It also looks like some of my textures aren't coming through here. So, to get around both of those, I would use a proxy. But this one has somehow become unlinked. Since the missing files option isn't helping me. I can take a peek here in the file path, and see that it was in a folder called, board 610 pre-render.
So now all I have to do is reset that proxy. There's board 601 pre-render, there's the image sequence, and as soon I choose it, it's reassigned. Now I have a proxy that has no lag time, and just makes my whole compositing experience a lot faster. We'll talk more about the use of proxies throughout the course. So now that you understand how the example files are set up, we're just about ready to get started.
This course was created by Mark Christiansen. We're honored to host this training in our library.
- Matching color in black and white
- Matching levels with proportions
- Desaturating with tint
- Creating depth of field
- Reducing or removing grain