After Effects (AE) is simply Photoshop for video. It can be more time consuming and clunky in terms of speed, especially when compared to Premiere, and so some projects are easier on Premiere Pro. This blog post will take you through some of the simple things that we learned in the After Effects Workshop, as part of Week 6 activities. I am personally unsure as to what I may use AE for, however I enjoyed learning about it in this session, especially for when I may need something else to edit video rather than Premiere.
The menu bar, such as on all Adobe software, is the same. We can set our preferences under the programme name [on Mac]. On AE, the composition is about the timelines, which is where we find the place to edit at the bottom. The composition needs to be set up for what you want from the beginning. If you are unsure, then it is easier to scale down but much harder to scale up.
Composition – New Composition – 1920 x 1080 for HD composition and set it to square pixels (730 x 576 with rectangular pixels for old standard definition TV’s) – PAL is 25 frames per second – in composition you can set how long we want the video to be.
The different footage clips themselves comes up as different colours in the timeline. They also come up on different lines, as each one can be individually and specially edited. To trim, it is the same as Premiere, but we cannot divide a clip into two separate sections. To do this, we have to have two different versions of the clips on different lines/layers.
To alter the clip, open the triangle for the layer and you can alter all of this here. It is all done through keyframing: give different value at one point and another value at another point e.g. slowly zoom towards the camera. Press the timer by scale, lighting it up making sure AE understands there will be a difference in value over time. This is how you animate things in after effects. If you want smooth transitions through this, you will need less keyframes. The more there are, the bumpier the transitions will be. You can add and copy a key frame to make a pause in the middle (and this applies to everything). The keyframe navigation tool will pin it to the next keyframe. It is ALL about keyframes! To fade in or out you have to use the opacity tool, rather than the pen tool like in Premiere.
When isolating parts go: layer – mask – new mask – use pen tool to add a whole bunch of points and move them to make a specific shape. The mask path is the shape of the mask. You would have to do this frame by frame to change it. Green screen can also be done this way, but it can also be used in Premiere. To edit green screen, go through effects and to keying.
Simple controls including frame forward and frame backward are page up and page down. To trim at a certain point, use the alt button and left bracket at the same time. Just to note: anything that happens at the same time on the different layers, can be seen at the same time. Also, everything that you edit on AE you can change over time with keyframes (it is still about keyframes)
Colour changes can be complicated if you want to change the whole piece. The simplest way of doing so is to nest – put a composition inside a composition (e.g. put composition 1 into composition 2). This is where you can then add effects and make colour changes to the video as a whole.
To do simple 3D animation, the z axis can be rotated, treating the flat layer as a 3D layer. To spin this over time, create a keyframe. You can also work with shapes, including several on one layer. To work with shapes individually, you must make a new shape layer.
Some things that we very briefly went over include; camera (where you can render from a cameras point of view from somewhere in the room looking at the clip), lights (it’s like turning a spotlight on it and you can achieve a night time effect with this. Can also do things like lens flare and control how big it is, where the centre it and how bright it is) and animation (e.g. slowing the zoom – under the keyframes you can do easy ease/ease in/ease out)
Unfortunately, the ore you ask the programme to do, the more memory it will take up. You can then reduce the number of pixels that you work with, which will not effect the pixels for encoding. AE also has a strange saving system, so it is just best to save as often as possible. To preview the work to determine how it will turn out, preview on the right hand side of the screen.
And finally, to export your final video: Composition – add to render queue – get another tab at the bottom which means that you can have a whole list of them to do all together – render settings [test for quality you can bring the quality down]. Under the output module you always use QuickTime – video codex use (font use animation) H.264. Limit Bitrate Settings to 30,000kps for under 4-5 minutes. Audio codec = AAC. Before hitting render, save it first!!
For more guides, the Adobe website has lots of help, and there are plenty of tutorials online. If you’re still confused, find a master of Adobe software!
Above is the short video that we created using found footage (credits to Rachel Glover for the clips).