To begin, launch After Effects. First, set up your workspace interface to best suite your needs for editing this panoramic image. Drag your original JPEG into your Project panel. Once the image is there, drag it into the Composition panel. Then open SkyBox Composer and select the options you need for your composition. Then, create your files and save them.
- [Instructor] To begin our project let's launch After Effects and let's make sure that we can see all of the panels that we talked about earlier. So once you've launched After Effects let's go up to the Window menu, let's come down to Workspace, and let's choose Small Screen. That's going to give us our Composition panel here in the center, our Project panel over on the left, our timeline panel down at the bottom, and over on the right hand side we'll see a few additional panels. Let's come over here and let's close the Libraries panel. Let's come over here and close Preview.
And we'll also close Info. We want to make sure that we have the Effects & Presets open. And the last panel that we're going to need is the Effect Controls. So back to the Window menu, let's come down and activate Effect Controls. Now in this workspace the Effect Controls is going to be next to the Project panel. So if I click Project panel we'll see all of the contents of the Project panel and Effect Controls will show us all of the controls for any effect that we apply to our compositions. And so now let's make sure our Project panel is showing, let's go to the File menu, come down to Import, choose File, and from the Exercise Files let's go into folder A, and let's locate lakemore_retreat_original.jpg, then click Open.
That's going to link this JPG file into the Project panel and that should create a composition. Let's click and hold on this file, let's drag and drop it into the Composition panel. This will automatically create a composition exactly the size of the JPG, which we can see here is 5,376 by 2,688 pixels. In the center here I'm just going to zoom out a little bit. And so now that we've created a new composition we can see the composition showing up here in the Project panel and we can also see our JPG showing up as a new layer in the timeline panel.
And now what we're going to need to do is isolate the table and the tripod, which is showing up down here in the bottom of the unwrapped spherical panorama, and isolate these, so that none of those pixels touch the edges. And to do this we're going to need to activate the VR Comp Editor. So let's go to the Window menu and choose VR Comp Editor down at the bottom. Now if you get a message from After Effects stating that you need to enable scripts to write files and access your network then open the General Preferences section in After Effects located under the Edit menu in Windows or the After Effects application menu on the Mac, then check the box next to the text that reads Allow Scripts to Write Files and Access Network, then click OK.
And then try again to open the VR Comp Editor from the Window menu. And once the VR Comp Editor loads, I'll resize mine a little bit, and then we'll click Add a 2D Edit. For the composition we're going to choose lakemore_retreat, for the Comp Width let's come in here and change this to 2,200 pixels. This will increase the size of the editing comp, so that we can more easily isolate the tripod. And then come down and click Add 2D Edit. So once that's applied let's close the VR Comp Editor. Over in the Project panel you see we've got two folders, one with lakemore_retreat_original, VR2 Output, and another one for the Solids.
Inside of here we'll see a series of additional compositions that have been created. We can close up all of these. And down in the timeline panel two of these comps are opened, the VR2 Edit 1 and the VR2 Output. The Edit composition is where we're going to be able to add new artwork and the Output comp, which I'll activate here, will show us the results of all of the edits being distorted back into the unwrapped sphere. Now this tool can be rather taxing on a GPU, or the graphics processing unit. If you see this dialog box here we'll come down and choose Ignore, letting us know that we don't have enough RAM in our GPU.
Let's come in here, change the resolution from Full down to Half. And if we click back to Edit and then click back to the Output we'll now see the unwrapped sphere. Now if you see some messages inside of here in red telling you that you need to activate the GPU Acceleration go up to the File menu, come down to Project Settings, and in the Video Rendering and Effects make sure that you have the Mercury GPU Acceleration turned on. And now to isolate the tripod let's go back to the Edit composition.
I'll zoom up in here a little bit. You'll notice in this composition there is a VR Camera showing up here. Let's go up to the top toolbar, let's find the Camera tool. If we click and hold on this there are a series of different Camera options. We're going to leave the top selection here, Unified Camera Tool. Then move your cursor inside of the composition, click and drag, and you can look around inside this spherical panorama. So what we want to do is scroll up here, so that we can see the tripod and the table completely isolated inside of the areas.
And what I mean by that is the tripod and the shadow don't touch the edges of the composition here. And once we have this positioned similar to this we're ready to save this out to Photoshop. Now if your graphics processing unit allows you to see this view in full resolution you can come up to the Composition menu, come down to Save Frame As, and choose Photoshop Layers, then go into the Exercise Files, go into retouching, and we're going to name this lakemore_retreat_tripod_export, and then we'll choose Save.
And now however, if your GPU only allows you to see the resolution at Half what you're going to need to do is come up to the Composition menu, come down to Save Frame As, and choose File. This is going to open up After Effects' Render Queue, which we can see down here. Next to Output Module let's click on the name Photoshop, let's come in here and check Resize. We want to make sure that we save the full resolution, which is 2,200 by 1,238. Let's click OK. For the Output let's click on the file name, I'll go to Exercise Files, we'll come out to retouching, and I'm going to come in here and overwrite the file we created earlier.
So I'll come down here and hit Save, choose Replace, and then we'll come down here and hit Render. Now the only difference in the resulting Photoshop file is that if your GPU supports full resolution previews the Layers panel in your Photoshop composition will have some layer groups inside of it. If you had to use the Render Queue, which I've done here, we'll have a single layer Photoshop file. Now this won't have any effect on the final project. In both cases we got a full resolution export from After Effects and we'll still be able to do all of our retouching in Photoshop.
And now before we continue onto Photoshop to edit out the tripod let's save our After Effects project. So let's go up to the File menu, let's come down and choose Save, let's go into the Exercise Files, let's go into retouching, and let's name this lakemore_retreat_modified.aep, which stands for After Effects project, and then choose Save. And now the last comment I want to make is inside of the Edit 1 composition make sure that you don't change the Camera position.
After we make our edits in Photoshop we're going to bring that Photoshop file back into this composition and cover up the tripod.