One of our priorities in the creation of the After Effects Apprentice video series is that it be relevant for a large number of users. So last fall we gave it a major update for CS6 users, and the day after After Effects Creative Cloud was released we updated it again for CC users. This now makes the After Effects Apprentice series compatible with all After Effects versions since CS5. Premium subscribers using After Effects CC should download and use the CS6 version of the exercise files.
Warp Stabilizer VFX and 3D Camera Tracker enhancements
Next in my review of significant new features that Adobe has revealed for an upcoming version of After Effects, let’s look at enhancements to the Warp Stabilizer and 3D Camera Tracker tools already available in After Effects.
Warp Stabilizer VFX
Many treat Warp Stabilizer as an apply-it-and-done stabilization effect. Now it looks poised to become a serious visual effects tool in its own right with the ability to take on many of the tasks you might have previously reserved for a motion tracker.
For example, in addition to stabilizing footage, you will now be able to reverse a stabilization. That means you can stabilize a shot for the sake of applying effects to it (including the After Effects Paint tool, which is rendered as an effect), and then reverse the stabilization to restore the original camera movement to the affected painted shot. The camera motion calculated in the original, unstabilized shot can also be applied to another layer to composite it onto the original.
Adobe has started to reveal some plans for its next generation of pro video tools. Using a prerelease version of After Effects, I’ve recorded two hours of videos for lynda.com to keep you ahead of the curve. Over the course of a few blogs, I’ll fill you in on some of the interesting features that are on tap. First up, the new integration between After Effects and CINEMA 4D.
Live 3D pipeline between After Effects and CINEMA 4D
A couple of weeks ago, Adobe and MAXON issued a press release announcing a “strategic alliance … to bring creative professionals new levels of digital media content creation.” Buried inside that release was the intriguing statement that “As part of the alliance, both companies are expected to collaborate and engineer a pipeline between Adobe After Effects software and CINEMA 4D to give users a seamless 2D/3D foundation.” Now we can finally see what they were hinting at.
In After Effects Apprentice 15: Final Project (the fifteenth, and final, course in the After EffectsApprentice series based on the second edition of Trish and Chris Meyer’s book After Effects Apprentice) you will pull together skills you’ve learned in the previous After EffectsApprentice lessons to create a real-world video promo. In the first half of the course Trish leads you through building the artwork and components used in the final piece, and then Chris demonstrates how to assemble your precompositions into a 3D world, timed to music. Skills covered include how to use masks, effects, shape layers, text, layered Illustrator files, blending modes, track mattes, collapsed transformations, nested compositions, motion blur, expressions, animation presets, audio, a 3D camera and light, and more.
Throughout the course, Trish and Chris share with you their process and thoughts as they design component elements, work towards assembling a final composition, and deal with handling change requests from clients. Chapters 11 and 12, the final two chapters of the course, are essentially mini-courses in themselves. In chapter 11, Chris breaks down several strategies for efficient rendering, including how to create versions for archiving, non-linear editors, widescreen, center cut, and the web, and chapter 12 dives into the process of recreating a dial Illustrator logo using shape and text layers inside After Effects.
Although After Effects Apprentice 15: Final Project concludes the After Effects Apprentice series, this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Trish and Chris as they’ve already promised to update their After Effects Apprentice book based on the next version of After Effects, and afterward will release additional Apprentice videos covering the new features, plus a new final project.
Published by Rob Garrott | Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
Adobe Premiere Pro has a robust titler built in, including the ability to create title rolls and crawls. However, Adobe After Effects has even more advanced tools, including hundreds of Animation Presets for type, Shape Layers (to build additional graphic elements such as lower third bars), and a combination of Layer Styles and Effects to further enhance the final look. If you have either the Production Premium or Master Collection suites, Premiere Pro and After Effects can talk to each other using Adobe Dynamic Link, which makes this process more fluid. In this course instructor Chris Meyer explains the general process of using After Effects to create refined lower thirds for Premiere Pro, including sharing some After Effects design ideas. Although this course is aimed at intermediate Premiere Pro users who have some After Effects experience, beginning After Effects users will also find this course to be full of useful tips, exposing them to numerous areas of the program.
Published by Rob Garrott | Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Motion tracking (the ability to follow the location of an object in a piece of footage, and use this information to stabilize that shot or animate other layers) and color keying (the ability to make a green- or blue-screen background transparent so that you can replace it with a new image) are two essential visual-effects tasks you need to learn if you want to take your After Effects skills to the next level.
In After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying, Chris Meyer covers tracking and keying basic and essential skills including a quick tour of mocha, the third-party tracking software that is bundled with After Effects, and an introduction to The Foundry’s KEYLIGHT, an Academy Award-winning keying effect that is also built into After Effects.
Throughout the course, Chris shows you how to use the motion tracker and stabilizer built into After Effects, and offers advice on how to handle a variety of shot scenarios. He also discusses how to use tracking and keying to track a greenscreen shot with a handheld camera and replace its background.
While practice is the secret to mastering your tracking and keying skills, getting to look over someone else’s shoulder as they perform these tasks is a great way to jump-start your learning curve.
The After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space course from Chris and Trish Meyer has a split personality. Despite the Intermediate rating, most of the course is devoted to a very gentle introduction to using 3D layers, cameras, and lights in After Effects, and is suitable for those relatively new to the program or those who have never used 3D in After Effects before.
However, there are also a pair of higher-level chapters that demonstrate different ways to integrate After Effects and Photoshop to create 3D objects. These techniques include importing 3D models (including mapping a video file onto a surface of that model), using Adobe Repoussé to extrude text or other selections in Photoshop, and using Vanishing Point Exchange plus the ‘Kid Stays in the Picture’ technique to convert flat photographs into compositions you can move a 3D camera around. (Also remember that Chris Meyer has a separate course on lynda.com dedicated to integrating the popular 3D application Cinema 4D with After Effects.) A series of ‘sidebar’ movies at the end discuss rotation and scaling issues in 3D, OpenGL acceleration, and different axis modes for manipulating the position of 3D layers.
If you’ve been looking for a course to take your After Effects skills literally to the next dimension, this is it.
Each of Chris and Trish Meyer‘s After Effects Apprentice courses are based on variations around a central theme. After Effects Apprentice 10: Time Games—released just a few weeks ago—is based around several different ways of manipulating time. At just under an hour in duration, it’s also the most standalone of the Apprentice courses, as users at different levels can jump straight in and learn some cool tricks without first having to work their way through the prior Apprentice courses.
In After Effects Apprentice 10: Time Games, Chris first covers Frame Blending to make slow motion look smoother. He compares and contrasts the two different algorithms After Effects supplies for blending—Frame Mix mode (crossfading) and Pixel Motion mode (optical flow)—discussing which works better on different types of source footage. He then demonstrates creating even slower frame rate stop-motion effects, as well as how to create freeze frames. This leads into Time Remapping, an advanced function in After Effects where you get to ‘keyframe time’. This course also includes a few application ideas, including how to re-use one element multiples times and make each instance appear different. This last idea is offered as a free movie to non-members, so everyone can get a taste for the After Effects Apprentice courses.