Join Ian Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video The six foundations of After Effects, part of After Effects CC Essential Training.
When you think about it, After Effects breaks down into six foundational areas. In this video, we'll list those areas and go through a basic overview of each. I just want you to watch and listen, as I want you to focus primarily on remembering each of these six foundations. This list is in no particular order, because no one function is more important than any other. In many cases these foundations overlap so enough talking let's get started with compositions. If you look at our project panel you can see I've already got two compositions that I have organized in my aaa output coms folder.
Let's double-click on the Training Swoosh Comb, just to make sure we are on the right composition. Now, I'd like to think of compositions as kind of a container. Any time you import something into After Effects, if you want to create a new graphic with that element, you need to put it into a composition. You can also think of compositions kind of like sequences in Premiere. There are a couple of different ways you can create comps inside of After Effects. The easiest is to go up under Composition and say New Composition.
When you do that, we have Presets so you can just click on the pull down and choose any one of these presets, depending upon the kind of resolution that you're working in. I'll just move this up a little bit here. Just want to click on the Presets here now you can see them all, kay? An easier way of setting up your comp settings instead of creating it from scratch is by using a piece of footage. So if we go down to our Video Settings, or our Video Folder, in our Project Panel. Open that folder up just by clicking on the triangle to its left.
Now when I click on this Quicktime file, I want you to notice in the project panel, I am getting a preview and it's telling me the resolution of that file as well as the duration and the frame rate and the codec that its using. So, if I were to create a project based on this setting, all I have to do is just click on this Video File and drag it right down to the new composition button here at the bottom of the project panel. When I let go, it's automatically going to create a composition that I can scrub through and it's going to be setup properly to the size and resolution of my background video.
Now to close a composition, you can close it here in the timeline by clicking the X button. Then it just goes to open up any other composition that you had open. So notice the 3D logo compositions open in my timeline so that's what I'm seeing here in my composition panel. If I click on my training swoosh timeline now that's open in my composition panel. So as you can see compositions and the timeline panel have a symbiotic relationship. Whatever's happening in one is also kind of happening in the other.
That being said if you look in the timeline panel we have layers. And that is the second of our six foundations layers. Layers are used to actually create the visibility of your graphic elements in your project. Now the visibility of layers can be determined both vertically, as in the stack order, was in the timeline here. Or horizontally, in terms of when they would appear in the project, based over time. So if I move my current time indicator back to about two seconds, you can see I have none of my graphics on the screen.
If I scroll down here in my timeline, I'm just scrolling with my mouse wheel. I could also just click the arrow buttons here on the bottom of my timeline. If we scroll down here, you can see, let's see, let's select the layer number eight, medium pluses. Kay? If I move my current time indicator down to when we see the pluses, you can see when they fade into the scene. Now notice also when you have a layer selected you can see whatever layer's selected here in the composition panel, because those are giving me the control handles for that layer.
You can have many different kinds of layers, and After Effects. Notice this is a Photoshop layer. This is an Illustrator layer. This is what's known as a Shape layer, and this is what's known as a Text layer. Now with a lot of these layers, let's go ahead and click on the H+ Sport ai Layer, layer number five. If you right click or Ctrl click on that layer, you can choose Reveal Layer Source in Project. Now when I choose that, it's automatically going to show me the layer up here in the project panel. Now as you can see the layers are determining what graphic elements are visible here in my project.
But notice there's movement on some of these elements, like these pluses here. If I go ahead and just click on this plus in the project panel, you can see this is the extra large plusses layer. Now, each individual layer here in the timeline has a disclosure triangle to the left of it. So if you go ahead and click on that triangle, you can see I have different options for that layer. Now, if we open up the transform options, you can see I have a number of different parameters that I have access to. And this leads me to the next foundational element, animation.
Notice I have these stopwatch icons to the left of each one of these names. But notice when I get to scale at opacity stopwatch is selected and I have these arrows over here on the left hand side. These arrows allow me to navigate the timeline just by clicking on the arrows. And they're moving between different keyframes. So if we look in the timeline here, see these things that look like diamonds? These are keyframes and keyframes record animation. So I've got a keyframe for the scale, if I go ahead and click this left arrow here to move my current time indicator directly on top of that keyframe.
You can see the scale is at 100% at two seconds 23 frames. If I clicked the right arrow here, it'll move down to the right most key frame for my scale parameter and now you can see it's scaled up to 125%. Animation is something that you can create by adding keyframes to elements here in the timeline. Now, there's another way to affect elements that are in the timeline or layers in the timeline and that's with effects.
So let's go ahead and select layer 13 here. Now I just want to look only at layer 13, so I'm going to move over here to the left side of my timeline. And notice I have an icon for an eyeball, which is the visibility. I have an icon for audio. And then, the next square over, if we click that, that's going to go ahead and just solo this one layer. It's just showing me the only thing that's on that layer. So now as I scrub through you can see that it doesn't look like there is much happening here on this layer. But if we move over to the right you can see this fx button.
That's letting me know that I have an effect applied to this layer. If we turn that effect off and on you can see it's not really effecting that much. Well let's see if we can see what the parameters are. If we open up the options for layer 13, notice now I have a set of options for effects. If I open that up, you can see I have a fast blur that's applied to this element. And if we open up it's options, you can see the two keyframes that make up that blur. So the effect really isn't happening until further down the timeline down here after nine seconds.
So now if I toggle the visibility off and on, you can see the difference between the effect being applied or the effect not being applied. Now if I go up under the window menu, there is an option for my effect controls. If we go ahead and select that, you can see my effect controls also give me a sure, quick easy way to actually add keyframes and set parameters for the different effects. Now, there are two more elements that make up the six foundation. 3D and rendering.
Now, I want to turn solo off for my background video layer, here. And, let's move back to around six seconds. Let's select our H+ Sport layer. Notice how I have these three arrows that have appeared over top of that layer. That's letting me know that this actually exists in 3D space. Those are Control Handles, so I hover my mouse over each one of the control handles, I can click and move, and make sure that I'm moving specifically on the axis that I'm clicking on top of.
Okay? Now if I open up the options for layer five here, and go to my transform options, notice for positions I have X, Y, and Z. If we scroll up and just select layer three, for example, and open up its options under transform, notice position just has x, y. That's because this layer only exists in 2D space. To enable 3D for this layer, I would need to enable 3D by selecting the Enable 3D option, here. Now notice I'm not seeing anything in my composition panel.
That's because this layer doesn't even exist until eight seconds. So if I move down the timeline to eight seconds, here you can see the layer that's actually been selected. It's this plus symbol, for training plus. You can also extrude 3D elements. If we click here on our 3D logo composition, notice I have a true 3D element that's been created. That was created based off this cinema 4D file. Now you can extrude text elements natively inside of After Effects or you can actually create 3D elements using the cinema 4D plug in, Cinema 4D light.
Now the last most important of the six foundations, rendering. Once you've actually created an animation, you want to share it with other people. So, in order to do that, you need to actually generate, or render, an external file that other computers can see without necessarily having to open the After Effect Project. So if you want to render something, all you have to do is make sure the timeline is active for the composition you want to go ahead and render, and then go up under Composition and choose Add to Render Queue. When we go to the render queue, this is where we can specify the different settings for the video file that we'll go ahead and render.
Now the default settings for the render queue are set up with an output module set to lossless, which on a Mac creates a lossless Quicktime file, usually the animation codec. And on windows it creates a loss less windows media file. All I have to do is click next to output two on this yellow text and I can specify the name of the file and where I'd like to send it. So once I click render it will go ahead and render the composition and animation thus creating your final external file.
Now I know that was a fair amount of information. But if you can remember compositions, layers, animation, effects, 3D, and rendering you'll have all your bases covered as you continue working in After Effects.
- Video terminology
- Creating your first composition
- Using layers, masks, blend modes, and track mattes
- Parenting objects
- Building complex objects with Pre-compose
- Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
- Understanding the order of effects
- Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
- Lighting a scene
- Animating type on a path
- Using Keylight for green-screen footage
- Archiving projects
Skill Level Appropriate for all
Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added new movies to the "Fundamentals of After Effects" chapter, reorganized and re-recorded the "Up and Running" and "Keying Green Screen Footage" chapters, and added new movies on Color Finesse 3 and masking individual effects.
Q: When I try to open a project file, After Effects tells me I need to update my system, since the file was made with version 13.0. But I already installed the most recent After Effects update. Why can't I open the project?
Q: This course was updated on 11/03/2014. What changed?
A: We updated 25 movies to reflect changes to the Creative Cloud 2014 release of After Effects. This includes the new optimized user interface and enhanced Cineware and CINEMA 4D Lite pipeline. The new movies are labeled with the "(CC 2014.1)" tag.