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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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• To set the zero point for the rulers, drag the crosshair from the intersection of the two rulers (in the upper-left corner) into the image area. Reset the zero point by double-clicking the intersection of the rulers.

Dragging the zero point crosshair See also “Shortcuts for using and modifying views” on page 644

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By default, After Effects displays time in Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) timecode:

hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. You can change to another system of time display, such as frames, or feet and frames of 16mm or 35mm film.

Video-editing workstations often use SMPTE timecode that is recorded onto videotape for reference. If you are creating video that will be synchronized with video that uses SMPTE timecode, use the default timecode display style.

You may want to see time values in a feet plus frames format, for example, if you are preparing a movie for eventual output to film, or in simple frame numbers if you plan to use your movie in an animation program such as Flash.

The format you choose applies to the current project only.

Important: Changing the time display format does not alter the frame rate of your assets or output—it changes only how frames are numbered for display in After Effects.

The current-time display appears in the upper-left corner of the Timeline panel and at the bottom of the Layer, Composition, and Footage panels.

• To cycle through Timecode Base, Frames, and Feet + Frames, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS) the current-time display at the bottom of the Composition, Layer, or Footage panel, or at the top of the Timeline panel.

• To change time display units, choose File Project Settings, and choose from the options in the Display Style section.

Timecode Base Displays time as timecode, using the frame rate that you specify as the timecode base. Auto uses the rounded frame rate of the footage item or composition. If an item doesn’t have timecode (such as an audio file), After Effects uses a default value (30 fps for English and Japanese versions of After Effects, or 25 fps for French, German, Spanish, and Italian versions) or the last non-auto value you specified in the Project Settings dialog box. You can also specify that After Effects use a specific frame rate.

Note: You can specify specific frame rates for display in the Timecode Base menu; however, in most cases, you should leave the timecode base set to Auto.

Drop Frame versus Non-Drop Frame Two of the more commonly used combinations of time display settings are 30 fps drop-frame timecode and 30 fps non-drop-frame timecode. When the frame rate is a non-integer number—as is the case with the NTSC frame rate of 29.97 frames per second—a compromise of one sort or another must be made in displaying time. Either the time display can accurately show clock time (after one hour, the time display shows 1:00:00:00) or the time display can be continuously numbered (frame n is always followed by frame n + 1, modulo the number of frames per second). Drop-frame timecode does the former; non-drop-frame timecode does the latter.

In the case of NTSC 30 fps drop-frame timecode, two frame numbers are skipped for each minute, except for every tenth minute. Drop-frame timecode is conventionally indicated by separating the time units with semicolons. The most common case for which drop-frame versus non-drop-frame timecode is relevant is 29.97 fps NTSC, but it also applies to 23.976 fps (which is treated by After Effects as non-drop-frame timecode) and 59.94 fps.

Timecode for 59.94 fps compositions and footage items matches that in Adobe Premiere Pro: When the timecode base is 30 fps, each timecode value repeats twice. When the timecode base is 60 fps drop-frame, frame numbers 0,1,2,3 are dropped in exactly the same places as where 0,1 are dropped for drop-frame timecode with a timecode base of 30 fps.

Feet + Frames Displays number of feet of film, plus frames for fractional feet, for 16mm or 35mm film. Numbering starts at the frame number that you specify with the Start Numbering Frames At value.

Frames Displays frame number instead of time. Use this setting for convenience when doing work that you are integrating with a frame-based format, like Flash.

Chapter 7: Layers and properties

Creating layers About layers Layers are the elements that make up a composition. Without layers, a composition is only an empty frame. Use as many layers as necessary to create your composition. Some compositions contain thousands of layers, whereas some compositions contain only one layer.

Layers in After Effects are similar to tracks in Adobe Premiere Pro. The primary difference is that each After Effects layer can have no more than one footage item as its source, whereas a Premiere Pro track typically contains multiple clips. Layers in After Effects are also very similar to layers in Photoshop, though the interface for working with layers differs.

Four layers as viewed in the Composition panel (top) and in the Timeline panel (bottom)

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Changes made to one layer do not affect other layers, unless you specifically link the layers. For example, you can move, rotate, and draw masks for one layer without disturbing any other layers in the composition.

After Effects automatically numbers all layers in a composition. By default, these numbers are visible in the Timeline panel next to the layer name. The number corresponds to the position of that layer in the stacking order. When the stacking order changes, After Effects changes all numbers accordingly. The layer stacking order affects rendering order, and therefore affects how the composition appears for previews and final rendered output. (See “Render order and collapsing transformations” on page 115.) After you add a layer, you can reposition it in the Composition panel. In the Timeline panel, you can change a layer’s duration, starting time, and place in the layer stacking order.

Note: By default, new layers begin at the beginning of the composition duration. You can instead choose to have new layers begin at the current time by deselecting the Create Layers At Composition Start Time preference (Edit Preferences General (Windows) or After Effects Preferences General (Mac OS)).

See also “Creating and editing text layers” on page 273 “Working with 3D layers” on page 171 “Shortcuts for working with layers” on page 645 “Cameras, lights, and points of interest” on page 176 “About shapes and shape layers” on page 314 “Create a null object” on page 159 Work with the Layer panel You can perform many tasks—such as drawing masks—in either the Composition panel or the Layer panel.

However, other tasks—such as tracking motion and using the paint tools—must be performed in the Layer panel.

The Layer panel shows you a layer before any transforms are applied to the layer. For example, the Layer panel does not show the result of modifying a layer’s Rotation properties. To see a layer in context with other layers and with the results of transforms, use the Composition panel.

Layers that are not based on a source footage item are synthetic layers. Synthetic layers include text layers and shape layers. You cannot open a synthetic layer in the Layer panel. You can, however, precompose a synthetic layer and open the precomposition in the Layer panel.

• To open a layer in the Layer panel, double-click the layer in the Timeline panel.

• To view changes to a layer (such as masks or effects), select Render in the Layer panel. Deselect Render to view the original, unaltered layer.

–  –  –

Create layers from footage items You can create a layer from any footage item in the Project panel, including another composition. After you add a footage item to a composition, you can modify and animate the resulting layer.

When you add a composition to another composition, you create a layer that uses the composition that you added as its source. (See “Nesting, precomposing, and pre-rendering” on page 113.) The Still Footage preference setting (Preferences Import) controls the default duration of layers that use still footage items as their sources. By default, when you create a layer with a still image as its source, the layer’s duration is the duration of the composition. You can change the duration of the layer after it’s created by trimming the layer.

Note: By default, new layers begin at the beginning of the composition duration. You can instead choose to have new layers begin at the current time by deselecting the Create Layers At Composition Start Time preference (Edit Preferences General (Windows) or After Effects Preferences General (Mac OS)).

Often, the next step after adding a layer to a composition is scaling and positioning the layer to fit in the frame. (See “Scale a layer” on page 155.) See also “Working with footage items” on page 58 “Trim, extend, or slip-edit a layer” on page 141 “Shortcuts for working with layers” on page 645 Create layers from one or more footage items When you create layers from multiple footage items, the layers appear in the layer stacking order in the Timeline panel in the order in which they were selected in the Project panel.

1 Select one or more footage items and folders in the Project panel.

2 Do one of the following:

• Drag the selected footage items to the Composition panel, or press Ctrl+/ (Windows) or Command+/ (Mac OS).

• Drag the selected footage items to the Timeline panel. When you drag the item into the layer outline, a highlight bar indicates where the layer will appear when you release the mouse button. If you drag the item over the time graph area, a time marker indicates where the layer’s In point will be when you release the mouse button.

• Drag the selected footage items to the composition name or icon in the Project panel.

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4 To create a layer based on this trimmed footage item, click an Edit button at the bottom of the Footage panel:

Creates the new layer at the top of the layer stacking order, with the In point set at the current time Overlay Edit in the Timeline panel.

Also creates the new layer at the top of the layer stacking order, with the In point set at the Ripple Insert Edit current time in the Timeline panel, but splits all other layers. Newly created split layers are moved later in time so that their In points are at the same time as the inserted layer’s Out point.

Replace layer sources with references to another footage item 1 Select one or more layers in the Timeline panel 2 Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) a footage item from the Project panel onto a selected layer in the Timeline panel.

Create or modify a solid-color layer You can create layers of any solid color and any size (up to 30,000 x 30,000 pixels). Solid-color layers have solid-color footage items as their sources. Solids work just like any other footage item: You can add masks, modify transform properties, and apply effects to a layer that has a solid as its source footage item. Use solid layers to color a background, as the basis of a control layer for a compound effect, or to create simple graphic images.

Solid-color footage items are automatically stored in the Solids folder in the Project panel.

See also “Working with footage items” on page 58 “Trim, extend, or slip-edit a layer” on page 141 “Shortcuts for working with layers” on page 645 Create a solid-color layer or solid-color footage item

• To create a solid footage item but not create a layer for it in a composition, choose File Import Solid.

• To create a solid footage item and create a layer for it in the current composition, choose Layer New Solid or press Ctrl+Y (Windows) or Command+Y (Mac OS).

To create a layer that fits the composition when you create a solid-color layer, choose Make Comp Size.

Modify settings for solid-color layers and solid-color footage items

• To modify settings for the selected solid-color layer or footage item, choose Layer Solid Settings.

To apply the changes to all solid-color layers that use the footage item, select Affect All Layers That Use This Solid.

If you don’t select this option, you create a new footage item, which becomes the source for the selected layer.

–  –  –

Because effects on adjustment layers apply to all layers beneath them, they are useful for applying effects to many layers at once. In all other respects, an adjustment layer behaves exactly like other layers; for example, you can use keyframes or expressions with any adjustment layer property.

Note: If you want to apply an effect or transformation to a collection of layers, you can precompose the layers and then apply the effect or transformation to the precomposition layer. (See “Precompose layers” on page 114.) Use masks on an adjustment layer to apply an effect to only parts of the underlying layers. You can animate masks to follow moving subjects in the underlying layers.

• To create a new adjustment layer, choose Layer New Adjustment Layer.

• To convert selected layers to adjustment layers, select the Adjustment Layer switch for the layers in the Timeline panel or choose Layer Switches Adjustment Layer.

Note: You can deselect the Adjustment Layer switch for a layer to convert it to a normal layer.

See also “Apply an effect or animation preset” on page 351 “Creating and importing masks” on page 254 Create a layer and new Photoshop footage item When you create a new Adobe Photoshop file from After Effects, Photoshop starts and creates a new PSD file. This PSD file consists of a blank Photoshop layer that has the same dimensions as your composition, with the appropriate title-safe and action-safe guides. The color bit depth of the PSD file is the same as that of your After Effects project.

The newly created PSD file is automatically imported into After Effects as a footage item. Any changes that you save in Photoshop appear in the footage item in After Effects.

• To create a new Photoshop footage item and use it as the source for a new layer in the current composition, choose Layer New Adobe Photoshop File. The Photoshop layer is added as the top layer in your composition.

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