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«PROFESSIONAL USER GUIDE © 2007 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Copyright Adobe® After Effects® CS3 User Guide for Windows® and ...»

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After Effects works internally in an RGB color space, but it can import and convert CMYK images. However, when possible, you should work in an RGB color space in applications such as Illustrator and Photoshop when creating images for video, film, and other non-print media. Working in RGB provides a larger gamut and more accurately reflects your final output.

Before you import a still image into After Effects, prepare it as completely as possible to reduce rendering time. It is usually easier and faster to prepare a still image in its original application than to modify it in After Effects. Consider

doing the following to an image before importing it into After Effects:

• Make sure that the file format is supported by the operating system you plan to use.

• Crop the parts of the image that you do not want to be visible in After Effects.

Note: Illustrator files can have fractional dimensions (e.g., 216.5 x 275.5 pixels). When importing these files, After Effects compensates for the fractional dimensions by rounding-up to the next whole number of pixels (e.g., 217 x 278 pixels).

This rounding results in a black line at the right (width) or bottom (height) edge of the imported image. When cropping in Illustrator, make sure that the dimensions of the cropped area are whole numbers of pixels.

• If you want to designate areas as transparent, create an alpha channel or use the transparency tools in applications such as Photoshop or Illustrator.

• If final output will be broadcast video, avoid using thin horizontal lines (such as 1-pixel lines) for images or text because they may flicker as a result of interlacing. If you must use thin lines, add a slight blur so that the image or text appears in both video fields instead of flickering between them. (See “About interlaced and noninterlaced video” on page 70.)

• If final output will be broadcast video, make sure that important parts of the image fall within the action-safe and title-safe zones. When you create a document in Illustrator or Photoshop using a preset for film and video, the safe zones are shown as guide lines. (See “Work with safe zones, grids, guides, and rulers” on page 130.)

• If the final output will be broadcast video, keep colors within the broadcast-safe ranges. (See “Broadcast-safe colors” on page 250.)

• Save the file using the correct naming convention. For example, if you plan to import the file into After Effects on Windows, use a three-character file-name extension.


• Set the pixel dimensions to the resolution and frame aspect ratio that you will use in After Effects. If you plan to scale the image over time, set image dimensions that provide enough detail at the largest size the image has in the project. After Effects supports a maximum image size of 30,000 x 30,000 pixels for importing and rendering files, except for PICT (4,000 x 4,000 pixels) and BMP (16,000 x 30,000 pixels). The size of image that you can import or export is influenced by the amount of physical RAM available to After Effects. The maximum composition dimensions are also 30,000 x 30,000 pixels.

Note: The image size or pixel dimensions setting in Photoshop (or other image-editing application) is relevant for the preparation of image data for import into After Effects—not dpi (dots per inch) or ppi (pixels per inch) settings. The image size determines how many pixels wide and tall an image is, whether those pixels are the tiny ones on a mobile device or the big ones on a motion billboard. The dpi or ppi settings are relevant to printing an image and to the scale of copied and pasted paths.

See also “Memory usage and storage” on page 37 “Copy a path from Illustrator, Photoshop, or Fireworks” on page 324 Import a single still image or a still-image sequence You can import still image files as individual footage items, or you can import a series of still image files as a stillimage sequence, which is a single footage item in which each still image is used as a single frame.

To import multiple image files as a single still-image sequence, the files must be in the same folder and use the same numeric or alphabetic filename pattern (such as Seq1, Seq2, Seq3).

When you import a file that appears to After Effects to be one file in a still-image sequence, After Effects will by default import all other files in the same folder that appear to be in the same sequence. Similarly, when you select multiple files that appear to be in a sequence, After Effects will by default import them as a sequence. You can see what After Effects is about to import by looking at the bottom of the Import dialog box. (You can also import images and sequences by dragging files and folders into the Project panel.

To prevent After Effects from importing unwanted files when you want to import only a single file, or to prevent After Effects from interpreting multiple files as a sequence, deselect the Sequence option in the Import dialog box. After Effects remembers this setting and will henceforth use it as the default.

You can import multiple sequences from the same folder simultaneously by selecting files from different sequences and selecting Multiple Sequences at the bottom of the Import dialog box.

When importing a sequence of still images, you can use the Force Alphabetical Order option in the Import dialog box to import a sequence with gaps in its numbering (e.g., Seq1, Seq2, Seq3, Seq5). If you import a sequence with gaps in its numbering without selecting this option, After Effects warns you of missing frames and replaces them with placeholders.

After Effects uses settings of the first image in the sequence to determine how to interpret the images in the sequence.

If the image files in a sequence are of a layered file type—such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator documents—then you can choose to import the sequence as a standard footage item, or as a composition in which each layer in each file is imported as a separate sequence and appears as a separate layer in the Timeline panel.

Note: When you render a composition that contains a numbered sequence, the output module uses the start frame number as the first frame number. For example, if you start to render on frame 25, the name of the file is 00025.

AFTER EFFECTS CS3 82 User Guide A sequence of still-image files (left) becomes one image sequence when imported into After Effects (right).

See also “Work with output module settings” on page 599 “Import footage items” on page 50 Import a still-image sequence as a single footage item 1 Choose File Import File.

2 Select any file in the sequence. To import a subset of files in a sequence, select the first file, hold down Shift, and then select the last file to import.

3 Choose Footage from the Import Kind menu.

4 Click Open (Windows) or Import (Mac OS).

5 In the [filename] dialog box, choose one of the following from the Choose Layer menu:

Merged Layers Imports the sequence as a sequence footage item in which the layers in the file, if any, are merged into one layer.

Choose Layer Imports the sequence as a sequence footage item in which the same layer from each source file—for example, layer 3—is imported and used in the sequence. If you choose this option for a PSD sequence, then you can also choose whether to ignore layer styles or merge them into the layer. You must also choose a Footage Dimensions option: Layer Size matches the dimensions of the layer to the layer’s content; Document Size matches the dimensions of the layer to the original document’s size.

6 Click OK.

If at any time you decide that you want access to the individual components of the footage item, you can convert it to a composition. See “Convert a merged footage item into a composition” on page 83.

AFTER EFFECTS CS3 83 User Guide Import a still-image sequence as a composition When you import a Photoshop or Illustrator file as a composition, you have access to the individual layers, blending modes, adjustment layers, layer styles, masks, guides, and other features created in Photoshop or Illustrator. The imported composition and a folder containing each of its layers as footage items appears in the Project panel.

1 Choose File Import File.

2 Select any file in the sequence. To import a subset of files in a sequence, select the first file, hold down Shift, and then select the last file to import.

3 Choose one of the following from the Import Kind menu:

Composition - Cropped Layers Import the layers with their original dimensions. This option makes it easier to manipulate layers and speeds their rendering time.

Composition Import layers and have them match the dimensions of the composition. This option is helpful when you need to align layers manually.

4 Click Open (Windows) or Import (Mac OS).

Change the frame rate of a sequence When you import a sequence of still images, it assumes the frame rate specified by the Sequence Footage preference in the Import category. The default rate is 30 frames per second (fps). You can change the frame rate after importing

by reinterpreting the footage item:

❖ Select the sequence in the Project panel, choose File Interpret Footage Main, and then enter a new value for Assume This Frame Rate.

For more information, see “Change frame rate” on page 53.

Convert a merged footage item into a composition When you import a layered file, such as a Photoshop or Illustrator file, as footage, all of its layers are merged together.

If at any time you decide that you want access to the individual components of the footage item, you can convert it to a composition.

• To convert all instances of a footage item, select it in the Project panel and choose File Replace Footage With Layered Comp.

• To convert only one instance of the footage item, select the layer in the Timeline panel, and choose Layer Convert To Layered Comp.

Note: It may take a few moments to convert a merged footage item to a layered composition.

–  –  –

A very convenient command within After Effects is Layer New Adobe Photoshop File, which adds a layer to a composition and then opens the source of that layer in Photoshop for you to begin creating a visual element, such as a background layer for your movie. The layer in Photoshop is created with the correct settings for your After Effects composition. As with many of the Creative Suite applications, you can use the Edit Original command in After Effects to open a PSD file in Photoshop, make and save changes, and have those changes appear immediately in the movie that refers to the PSD source file. Even if you don’t use Edit Original, you can use the Reload Footage command to have After Effects refresh its layers to use the current version of the PSD file. (See “Create a layer and new Photoshop footage item” on page 137 and “Edit footage in its original application” on page 60.) Adobe Photoshop supports a transparent area and one optional layer mask (alpha channel) for each layer in a file.

You can use these layer masks to specify how different areas within a layer are hidden or revealed. If you import one layer, After Effects combines the layer mask (if present) with the transparent area and imports the layer mask as a straight alpha channel.

If you import a layered Photoshop file as a merged file, After Effects merges the transparent areas and layer masks of all the layers into one alpha channel that is premultiplied with white.

If the layered Photoshop file contains clipping groups, After Effects imports each clipping group as a precomposition nested within the main composition. After Effects automatically applies the Preserve Underlying Transparency

option to each layer in the clipping-group composition, maintaining transparency settings. These nested precompositions have the same dimensions as the main composition. (Paul Tuersley provides a script that crops the precompositions to the size of their contents, while retaining their correct position in the main composition:

www.adobe.com/go/learn_ae_paulphotoshopcrop.) When you import a Photoshop file as a composition, vector masks are converted to After Effects masks. You can then modify and animate these masks within After Effects.

After Effects also supports blending modes and layer styles applied to the file. When you import a Photoshop file

with layer styles, you can choose the Editable Layer Styles option or the Merge Layer Styles Into Footage option:

Editable Layer Styles Matches appearance in Photoshop and preserves supported layer style properties as editable.

Note that a layer with a layer style interferes with intersection of 3D layers and the casting of shadows.

Merge Layer Styles Into Footage Layer styles are merged into the layer for faster rendering, but the appearance may not match the appearance of the image in Photoshop. This option doesn’t interfere with intersection of 3D layers or casting of shadows.

Photoshop files can even contain video and animation layers. After Effects can import these files just as any other Photoshop files, either as a footage item with all layers merged together or as a composition with each Photoshop layer separate and editable in After Effects. (Working with Photoshop video layers requires QuickTime 7.1 or later.) Photoshop layer groups are imported as individual compositions.

It is often valuable to group layers into Smart Objects in Photoshop so that you can import meaningful collections of Photoshop layers as individual layers in After Effects. For example, if you used 20 layers to create your foreground object and 30 layers to create your background object in Photoshop, you probably don’t need to import all of those individual layers into After Effects if all that you want to do is animate your foreground object flying in front of your background object; consider grouping them into a single foreground Smart Object and a single background Smart Object before importing the PSD file into After Effects.

AFTER EFFECTS CS3 85 User Guide Before you import a layered Photoshop file into After Effects, prepare it thoroughly to reduce preview and rendering

time. Avoid problems importing and updating Photoshop layers by doing the following:

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