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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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Note: When you change element properties in the Flowchart panel, be careful to context-click the icon in the tile, not the name of the element. The context menu associated with the element icon is different from the one that opens from the element name.

Undo changes You can undo only those actions that alter the project; for example, you can undo an edit, but you cannot undo the scrolling of a panel.

You can sequentially undo as many as 99 of the most recent changes made to the project, depending on the Levels Of Undo setting (Edit Preferences General (Windows) or After Effects Preferences General (Mac OS)). The default is 32.

To avoid wasting time undoing accidental modifications, lock a layer when you want to see it but do not want to modify it.

• To undo the most recent change, choose Edit Undo [action].

• To undo a change and all changes after it, choose Edit History, and select the first change that you want to undo.

• To revert to the last saved version of the project, choose File Revert. All changes made and footage items imported since you last saved are lost. You cannot undo this action.

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Project planning and setup Workflow Whether you use Adobe After Effects to animate a simple title or create complex special effects, you generally follow the same basic workflow, though you may repeat some steps—such as the cycle of modifying layer properties, animating, and previewing until everything looks right. You can choose a predefined workspace to facilitate each stage of your work, or you can create your own workspaces adapted to your needs.

Import and organize footage After you create a project, add your footage to the Project panel. After Effects automatically interprets many common media formats, but you may also specify how you want After Effects to interpret attributes such as frame rate and pixel aspect ratio. You can view each item in a Footage panel and set its start and end times to fit your composition.

For more information, see “Importing and interpreting footage items” on page 47.

Create and arrange layers in a composition Create one or more compositions. Any footage item can be the source for one or more layers in a composition. You can arrange the layers spatially in the Composition panel or arrange them in time using the Timeline panel. You can stack layers in two dimensions or arrange them in three dimensions. You can use masks, blending modes, and keying tools to composite, or combine, the images of multiple layers. You can even use shape layers, text layers, and paint tools to create your own visual elements. For more information, see Compositions, Layers and properties, Drawing and painting, and Text.

Add effects and modify layer properties You can add any combination of effects and modify any of a layer’s properties, such as size, position, and opacity.

Using effects, you can alter a layer’s appearance or sound, and even generate visual elements from scratch. You can apply any of the hundreds of effects, animation presets, and layer styles. You can even create and save your own animation presets. For more information, see Effects and animation presets.

Animate You can make any combination of a layer’s properties change over time, using keyframes and expressions. Use the motion tracking to stabilize motion or to animate one layer so that it follows the motion in another layer. For more information, see Animation, Expressions, and Motion tracking.

Preview Previewing compositions on your computer monitor or an external video monitor is fast and convenient, even for complex projects, especially if you use OpenGL technology to accelerate previews. You can change the speed and quality of previews by specifying their resolution and frame rate, and by limiting the area and duration of the composition that you preview. You can use color management features to preview how your movie will look on another output device. For more information, see Views and previews and “Color management” on page 241.

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Example workflow: Create a simple movie This example assumes that you have already started After Effects and have not made any changes to the empty default project. This examples skips the step of importing footage and shows you instead how to create your own visual elements. After you have rendered a final movie, you can import it into After Effects to view it and use it just as you would any other footage item.

Some people prefer to use the mouse and menus to interact with After Effects, whereas others prefer to use keyboard shortcuts for their common tasks. For several steps in this example, two alternative commands are shown that produce the same result—one demonstrating the disoverability of menu commands and one demonstrating the speed and convenience of keyboard shortcuts. You will likely find that you use some combination of keyboard shortcuts and menu commands in your work.

1 Create a new composition:

• Choose Composition New Composition.

• Press Ctrl+N (Windows) or Command+N (Mac OS).

2 Change the Duration value in the Composition Settings dialog box to 5;00 (five seconds), choose Web Video from the Preset menu, and click OK.

3 Create a new text layer:

• Choose Layer New Text.

• Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+T (Mac OS).

4 Type your name. Press Enter on the numeric keypad or press Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Return (Mac OS) on the main keyboard to exit text-editing mode.

5 Set an initial keyframe for the Position property:

• Click the triangle to the left of the layer name in the Timeline panel, click the triangle to the left of the Transform group name, and then click the stopwatch button to the left of the Position property name.

• Press Alt+Shift+P (Windows) or Option+Shift+P (Mac OS).

6 Activate the Selection tool:

• Click the Selection Tool button in the Tools panel.

• Press V.

7 Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the bottom-left corner of the frame in the Composition panel.

8 Move the current-time indicator to the last frame of the composition:

• Drag the current-time indicator in the Timeline panel to the far right of the timeline.

• Press End.

9 Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the top-right corner of the frame in the Composition panel.

A new keyframe is created at this time for the Position property. Motion is interpolated between keyframe values.

10 Preview your animation using standard preview:

• Click the the Play button in the Time Controls panel. Click Play again to stop the preview.

• Press the spacebar. Press the spacebar again to stop the preview.

11 Apply the Glow effect:

• Choose Effect Stylize Glow.


• Type glow in the Contains field at the top of the Effects & Presets panel to find the Glow effect. Double-click the effect name.

12 Add your composition to the render queue:

• Choose Composition Add To Render Queue.

• Press Ctrl+Shift+/ (Windows) or Command+Shift+/ (Mac OS).

13 In the Render Queue panel, click the underlined text to the right of Output To. In the Output Movie To dialog box, choose a name and location for the output movie file, and then click Save. For the location, choose something easy to find, like your desktop.

14 Click the Render button to process all items in the render queue. The Render Queue panel shows the progress of the rendering operation. A sound is generated when rendering is complete.

You’ve just created, rendered, and exported a movie.

You can import the movie that you’ve just created and preview it in After Effects, or you can navigate to the movie and play it using a movie player such as QuickTime Player or Windows Media Player.

See also “Using and modifying keyboard shortcuts” on page 638 “Import footage items” on page 50 Use Adobe Bridge with After Effects Adobe Bridge is the control center for Adobe Creative Suite software. Use Adobe Bridge to browse for project templates and animation presets; run cross-product workflow automation scripts; view and manage files and folders;

organize your files by assigning keywords, labels, and ratings to them; search for files and folders; and view, edit, and add metadata.

For more information about Adobe Bridge, see Adobe Bridge.

• To open Adobe Bridge from After Effects, choose File Browse.

• To reveal a file in Adobe Bridge, select a file in the Project panel and choose File Reveal In Bridge.

• To use Adobe Bridge to open template projects, choose File Browse Template Projects.

• To use Adobe Bridge to browse for animation presets, choose Animation Browse Presets.

See also “Work with template projects” on page 23 “About animation presets” on page 347

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The best way to ensure that your movie is suitable for a specific medium is to render a test movie and view it using the same type of equipment that your audience will use to view it. It’s best to do this before you have completed the difficult and time-consuming parts of your work, to uncover problems early.

Aharon Rabinowitz has an article on the Creative COW website about planning your project with the final delivery specifications in mind: www.adobe.com/go/learn_ae_aharonplanning.

For introductions to digital video, digital audio, high-definition video, DVD, compression, and streaming video, visit the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/go/learn_dv_primers.

To see a video tutorial on creating and organizing projects, visit the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/go/vid0221.

Acquiring, choosing, and preparing footage Before importing footage, first decide which media and formats you'll use for your finished movies, and then determine the best settings for your source material. Often, it’s best to prepare footage before importing it into After Effects.

For example, if you want an image to fill your composition frame, configure the image in Adobe® Photoshop® so that the image size and pixel aspect ratio match the composition size and pixel aspect ratio. If the image is too large when you import it into After Effects, you’ll increase the memory and processor requirements of the compositions that use it. If the image is too small, you’ll lose image quality when you scale it to the desired size. See “Change pixel aspect ratio” on page 55.

If possible, use uncompressed footage: less compression means better results for many operations, such as keying and motion tracking. Certain kinds of compression—such as that used in DV encoding—are especially bad for color keying, because they discard the subtle differences in color that you depend on for good bluescreen or greenscreen keying. It’s often best to wait until the final rendering phase to use compression. See “Keying overview and tips” on page 268.

If possible, use footage with a frame rate at least that of your output, so that After Effects doesn’t have to use frame blending or similar methods to fill in missing frames. See “Change frame rate” on page 53.

The kind of work that you’ll be doing in After Effects and the kind of output movie that you want to create can even influence how you shoot and acquire your footage. For example, if you know that you want to animate using motion tracking, you should consider shooting your scene in a manner that optimizes for motion tracking—for example, attaching a small, brightly colored ball to the object that you intend to track. See “Motion tracking workflow” on page 336.

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Composition settings After you prepare and import footage items, you use these footage items to create layers in a composition, where you animate and apply effects. When you create a composition, specify composition settings such as resolution, frame size, and pixel aspect ratio for your final rendered output. Although you can change composition settings at any time, it’s best to set them correctly as you create each new composition to avoid unexpected results in your final rendered output. For example, the composition frame size should be the image size in the playback medium. See “Work with composition settings” on page 110.

If you’ll be rendering a composition to more than one media format, always match the resolution setting for your composition to the highest resolution setting used for your output. Later, you can use output modules in the Render Queue panel to render a separate version of the composition for each format. See “Work with output module settings” on page 599.

Performance, memory, and storage considerations If you work with large compositions, make sure that you configure After Effects and your computer to maximize performance. Complex compositions can require a large amount of memory to render, and the rendered movies can take a large amount of disk space to store. Before you attempt to render a three-hour movie, make sure that you have the disk space available to store it. See “Memory, storage, and performance” on page 37.

Planning for playback from film, videotape, and DVD If you’re creating a movie for film, consider both the frame aspect ratio of your composition and the frame rate of your source footage. For footage that was transferred from film to video using the 3:2 pulldown telecine method, you must remove 3:2 pulldown before adding effects. See “Remove 3:2 or 24Pa pulldown from video” on page 72.

For film and video, try to match import and composition settings with settings in the output module used to render a movie. In some cases, you may want to conform footage to a frame rate different than the frame rate of the source footage. For example, you may want to conform 25 fps PAL to 24 fps for film. See “Converting movies” on page 630.

If your final output will be videotape, set up your composition to match the requirements of your capture card; or, if you use an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port, choose the appropriate DV preset in the Composition Settings dialog box and in the export settings of the output module Render Queue panel.

Aharon Rabinowitz has an article on the Creative COW website about planning your project with the final delivery specifications in mind: www.adobe.com/go/learn_ae_aharonplanning.

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