Wednesday, 1 December 2010

after effects workshop 1

The following are my notes from Adobe After Effects session 1:

After opening After Effects you are faced with this screen:

If you are not interested in the tip of the day, close the window to be faced with the windows needed.

The selected window will have a yellow ring around it. This is important is if you are using the toolbar in the wrong window you might get confused. It is always wise to pay attention:

Be sure to work in a Standard Workspace for now:

You must create a new composition. To do this you must go:

Composition > New Composition

There are several new composition presets:

HDV, DVC and HDTV are all HD options. We want to be using NTSC or PAL. NTSC = American standard and PAL = European standard.

NTSC = 27.97 frames per second
PAL = 25 frames per second

If you want to combine videos you must make sure that they are in the same format.

When it comes to editing a digital video sequence it is imperative that same standard is chosen to that of the camera it was shot on.

When working with video choose the DV option.

When working with images choose the square pixel option. other Adobe programs such as Photoshop use square pixels, so this means that your placed images in AE will not look stretched or distorted when you import them. Single DV uses rectangular pixels. This is why the square pixel option should be selected.

Select PAL D1/DV Widescreen Square Pixel

You are then faced with this box to set up your composition:

You can change all aspect of the composition including the background colour. You can edit the duration of the composition. This needs to be changed to 5 seconds:

The timecode works in Hours/Minutes/Seconds/Frames

To edit the composition go to Composition > Composition Settings


You can import your own objects from photoshop and illustrator by going:

File > Import > File...

These objects get placed in your composition for you to work with freely.

After Effects works in layers like Photoshop so that when you add an object or asset it becomes a layer:

Here a 'Blue Solid' has been added. A solid can be made by going Layer > New > Solid

Solids are still images that will last for the entire length of the composition unless their duration of existence in the composition is altered. This can be done on the appropriate layer in the time ruler by grabbing the edge of the bar that represents the shape and shortening or lengthening it:

  • Always use the RAM preview option when previewing your composition due to the fact that it offers an exact time preview.
  • Dealing with complex files can be tricky with previews. You should change the resolution to half or anything less in order to play your animation as a preview if it is complex.
  • The small yellow bar just below the yellow cursor on the images above can be used to shorten the area of RAM preview to make things easier.
By clicking on the small triangle of the desired layer, you can change certain properties of the object in order to make it move etc. You can change ANCHOR POINT, POSITION, SCALE, ROTATION and OPACITY.

Complex animations can be made by changing different values at different times. This is called:


You can change properties of a composition over a desired period of time by dragging the yellow diamond for the desired length of time on the time ruler then altering the value to state the change.

The possibilities are endless for how - and what - you can compose in After Effects.

  • In order to make things follow a path of motion, you can use the pen tool just like in illustrator to compose the path and alter the length of time of the objects motion by dragging their bar in the time ruler. This will essentially change the speed of the object.
  • To move the entire composition - if it off centre for example - select all key frames and edit the 'Position' key frame to move the entire animation.
  • Press the tild key ( `~ ) in order to create more space in the window you are working in. To show individual key frame properties in this view you can use the following shortcuts:
A = Anchor Point
P = Position
S = Scale
R = Rotation
T = Opacity/Transparency

Other shortcuts include:

O = Out point of current layer
I = In point of your current layer

B = Beginning of work area
N = End of work area

U = Reveal all animated properties
UU = Reveal all modified properties


You need to go to: Composition > Add To Render Queue

Be sure to check these aspects are correct in the render queue bar at the bottom of the screen:
  • Renders Settings > Best Settings > Export The Length of Comp.
  • Output Module > Lossless > Format > QuickTime. Also: Format > Video Codec > H.264 (This is appropriate for putting a video onto the internet)
  • Output to > (Where you want to save)
  • Click 'Render' on the right.

And once you are saved you are free to upload to Youtube or Vimeo or whatever and then embed the video on the internet wherever you want. Here is my result of playing around with After Effects today. I tried to make use of all the key frames in some way.

Be seeing you!

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