After Effects Week 1

Follow this outline to learn basic tools of the After Effects interface.  Scroll to the end to see the homework due Monday, week 2.

All keystroke shortcuts are highlighted.  It’s very important that you begin to use these to save wear and tear on your mouse hand, and to save time.  The two most important keystroke shortcuts are Save (command/S) and Undo (command/Z).

Making a simple bouncing ball:
a.     Download Bouncing Ball assets folder from Orca to your folder in the storage drive of the computer you are working on.

b.     Launch AE. Save your project as “yourname_AEintro.aep”.

c.     Make new composition (command/N.)  Compositions can be any resolution, any aspect ratio. You can make multiple compositions in a single AE project file. Settings: HDTV 1080, 29.97, square pixels, 10 seconds, label it Bouncing Ball.  Note timeline and compositions window appear when you do this.

d.     Make new solid (command/Y): 600 x 600 pixels, name it “ball”, choose color.  Note it appears centered in the comp window and as a layer that fills the whole timeline.

e.     The timeline window and the composition window are linked; one shows you how actions and elements are arranged in time, the other shows you how those same actions and elements are arranged spatially.

f.      Double click on ball layer to open layer window.  Tools: pointer, hand, zoom, unified camera, pan behind (“anchor point”), mask tools, Bezier tool, type tool, paint, clone stamp, eraser, roto tool, puppet pin tool, axis modes. 

g.     Choose mask ellipse tool (type “q”).  Start in one corner, hold down shift key to keep it circular, drag to opposite corner and release, creating a circle.

h.     Duplicate layer (command/D).  Solid settings (shift/command/Y): change color, relabel it “stripe”.  Use rectangle mask tool to create stripe.  Click triangle to left of layer name to reveal attributes.  Or click “m” to reveal mask attributes.  In mask 2 (the stripe) change type from “add” to “intersect”.

i.       Use Bezier tool to add two points. The carrot shape (toggle “g”) is the convert vertex tool. It will also convert a linear path to a Bezier curve.  Change vertices to curve, “break” handles to manipulate curve.  Type “v” to return to the arrow cursor.  You can feather(type “f”), change opacity, or expand or contract the stripe.  SAVE!

j.       We want to animate the ball and its stripe simultaneously. One way to do this is by using “parenting”. To make the stripe the child of the ball, select stripe in the timeline, then under the “parent” menu, select layer 2 (the layer that has the ball).

k.     To animate the ball and its stripe, select the ball layer, then grab it with the mouse (take care not to grab the stripe instead) and drag it to the upper left, outside the frame. Select the ball layer again and type “p” to reveal the position attributes. Note stopwatch icon to the left of the word “position.”  Click on it to place a keyframe at frame 0.

l.       From here on, every time you change the position of the ball at other points on the timeline AE automatically sets a key frame.  Do not click the stopwatch again unless you want to delete all your keyframes!

m.    Click current time, enter .10 to move cursor to 10 frames.  Grab the ball and move it to the lower center of the frame.  Note that you now have a new keyframe on the timeline at frame 10.  If you click on it to select it, you’ll see a line (aka “path of action”!) connecting the ball at frame 10 with its original position at frame 0.

n.     Click current time, enter .20 to move cursor to 20 frames.  Grab the ball and move it to the upper right off frame.  Note the new keyframe, and that the linear path of action has automatically converted into a curve.

o.     Set work area for 1 second. RAM preview (^/0 from the numerical keypad).  What needs to be done to make this look more like a real bounce?

p.     Path of action:  Select the ball layer. In the comp window, grab handles of path to change curve so it’s more like the parabolic shape of a bouncing ball motion.  Use “g” to toggle between arrow tool and Bezier tool to break handles. You can move keyframes to a different place in the timeline, or a different place in the window to alter the timing or the motion path respectively.

q.     Squash: Highlight the ball layer and type “s” for scale.  Make sure you are on the second keyframe. “Page up” one frame. Click on the stopwatch by “Scale” to set a keyframe. “Page down” two frames.  Click between the navigation arrows on the far left to set a second keyframe.  These keyframes lock the aspect ratio of the ball so we can make one frame of squash in between. Page up one frame.  Unlock the chain to the left of the scale fields (they should currently read 100%).  Click on the right hand one that represents the “Y” scale and set it to about 50%. Click on the left hand one for the “X” scale and set it to about 110%.  Note that the ball is now higher up in the frame than you’d originally set it.

r.      Select the ball layer and type “u”.  This is the über keystroke that will toggle between revealing all keyframes in a layer and hiding them.  Highlight the position keyframe at 10 frames (your current time marker should be there now) and using the shift and arrow keys, reposition the ball.

s.     Ease in and out:  Highlight graph icon by  “position.” Click on Graph Editor to show a graph of velocity vs time. Note that the lines are straight, indicating constant velocity between keyframes.  In the timeline, click the arrows on either side of the keyframe indicator to navigate to 0 frames.  Select the keyframe. Go to Easy Ease Out (Animation/Keyframe Assistant). In timeline, click arrows on either side of the keyframe indicator to navigate to 20 frames.  Select the keyframe..  Go to Easy Ease In (Animation/Keyframe Assistant). Note change to curve indicating the ease into this position.  In Graph editor, you can grab and move the keyframes to further manipulate the curve.  RAM preview and adjust until it’s how you want it.

t.      SAVE.  Close Graph Editor.  Note that the shapes of the keyframes have changed.

u.     Stretch:  Add a Motion Blur.  Click on for both layers and enable.  Ram Preview.

v.     Add a spin. Select ball layer, type “r” for rotation. Navigate to frame 0.  Set rotation keyframe.  Navigate to 10 frames, enter 180.  Navigate to 2 0 frames, enter 360. RAM preview.  Save.

w.    Add a background.  Type Command/I for a single file, or Shift/Command/I for multiple files. Navigate to the folder of assets and select a background to import. Type “home” to return your current time indicator to frame 0.  From the Project window drag the background image into the timeline window, positioning it on the bottom layer.  Adjust the position, scale and opacity (type “t” to reveal this attribute) as you wish. SAVE.

Working with Nested compositions:
a.     In AE there are often multiple ways to achieve the same goal.  We’re going to make another bouncing ball by duplicating layers and using nested compositions.

b.     In the Time layout window, navigate to frame 0 by typing on the “home” key.  Highlight both layers and type command/D to duplicate them.  Deselect the new layers and reselect the second layer (this should be the second stripe, now “child” of layer 4). Drag this stripe down a layer so it is right above its parent, the ball in layer 4.  Select layer 4 and type “u” to reveal its keyframes. Click on the stopwatches to the right of the position, scale and rotation attributes.  This will delete all the keyframes associated with those attributes.

c.     Select both layers 3 and 4, and then use the mouse to grab the ball that is now off frame in the upper left and move it to the center of the composition.  (Make sure both the stripe and the ball moved together).

d.     To animate this second ball, we want to combine the stripe and ball by “pre-composing” them into a new composition.  Highlight both layers, go to the Layer menu and select “Pre-compose” (or type Shift/Command/C).  Rename it “Ball 2”.  Note that a new composition icon shows up in the project window and that the Ball 2 composition appears as a layer in your original Ball composition.

e.     Note composition and time layout windows have tabs that allow you to go back and forth between different compositions. Note icons for different items in project window.

f.      Toggle to the Ball 2 Composition and type command/K for Composition Settings.  Change the composition to Custom, unlock the aspect ratio and change it to 600 x 600.

g.     If the ball was centered in the original comp, it should be centered in this one.  If not, select both layers and use the shift and arrow keys to center them.

h.     Change the colors of this ball to distinguish it from the first ball. Select each layer, type Shift/Command/Y to get to solid settings and change the color.  To change the shape of the stripe, select that layer, type “m” for mask, highlight the mask and move the points or the handles.

i.       Animate the Ball 2 composition so it appears smaller in the frame than ball 1, and bounces at least two times through the frame.  How will you do this?

j.       Change scale.

k.     Move the Ball 2 composition off frame. Set position keyframe at the time you want the ball to start moving.  Calculate timing and positions for bounces and move the ball through those.  RAM preview and save.

l.       Adjust the motion paths using the handles on the Bezier curves in the composition window.

m.    Adjust the timing to incorporate eases in and out using the Keyframe Assistant, and/or manipulating keyframes in the Graph Editor.

n.     Adjust the scale so you have a squash on the first bounce.  To duplicate the same amount of squash on subsequent bounces, select the three keyframes of the squash, type Command/C to copy, navigate to one frame before the next bounce and type Command/V to paste. You can copy and past keyframes throughout an attribute. Just make sure your current time indicator is on the frame where you want the first copied keyframe.

o.     Add motion blur.

p.     Add rotation.

q.     Save.

r.      Render movie^/Command/M to add the composition to the Render Queue.  Render settings: defaults are fine. Output Module: Quicktime, Format is Apple Pro Res 422 LT.  Output to your folder, can change name to reflect it as a test. Click render.  When render is complete, open the movie in Quicktime to view it.


Homework assignment due Monday 1/14/13, by 6 pm:

Working on your own, create a new 6-15 second sequence.

Include: a background, a ball that bounces at least two times and one other moving object that you create in AE using solids and masks.  The project file should show evidence that you used eases in and out, parenting and nested compositions.  In addition, manipulate three of these attributes in time: scale, rotation, opacity, masks (shape and/or feathering).

If you have worked in After Effects before, use two tools or effects you haven’t used before.

Render as a Quicktime movie using the above settings.  Name it “”

Save the Quicktime movie, your After Effects project file AND folder of assets in a folder labeled “Winter Animation 1” in your cubby. You will not receive credit for this assignment if you do not include the After Effects Project file and folder of assets in your cubby.

Labs on campus with After Effects:  Multimedia Lab, the 2d Animation Labs and the 24 Hour Edit Suites