CMG Keyframes | Chris and Trish Meyer rss
Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including "Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects" and "After Effects Apprentice" both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | December 1, 2015
After Effects CC 2015.1 - also known as v13.6 - is being rolled out today to Creative Cloud subscribers. The initial CC 2015 release marked a significant under-the-hood change to its architecture plus a major update to previewing, all of which promised improved usability. However, that initial release was fraught with bugs, performance slowdowns, and unexpected consequences of the new previewing scheme. The After Effects team has been working flat out to cure these ills, and the 13.6 update takes another major stride forward toward making the program behave as expected. A few nice new features were added, too. Here are some of the major changes brought by this update:
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | November 24, 2015
Normally, a Position keyframe in After Effects defines a time, and the position value at that time. This can get unwieldy when you create a complex motion path - such as following a map or maze, or hand-tracing a path with Motion Sketch - and then want to finesse the timing of that path later, as you often have to tweak the timings of a lot of keyframes to create a smooth end result.
As it turns out, there’s a little-known function inside After Effects called Roving Keyframes where the timings of keyframes are set free and allowed to automatically slide earlier or later as needed to create a smooth speed without changing the Position path itself.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | November 17, 2015
We use drop shadows all the time in motion graphic design, along with the occasional bevel or glow. The standard AE Effects to do this are pretty basic. What if we told you there were a far more versatile shadow, glow, and bevel available, for free, already inside After Effects?
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | November 10, 2015
One of the secrets to creating eye-catching motion graphics is to make sure everything keeps moving, instead of settling into a final pose. As soon as your frame becomes static, you risk the viewer changing channels or clicking through to another site. Sometimes we keep layers drifting past their “perfect” end pose; quite often, we use the wiggle expression to add automatic movement. Wiggle is also useful to add random or “human” motion to objects and cameras.
What? You don’t do expressions? Then we have good news for you: There are a set of Animation Presets in the Behaviors category that write the expressions for you, and give you effect controls that are easy to set or animate:
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | November 3, 2015
As we’ve said many times, After Effects is not an NLE - but often, it’s easier to keep everything inside After Effects instead of splitting a project across multiple programs. One of the biggest issues for editors coming to After Effects is that video segments have to each exist on their own track, each with their own opacity fades or transition effects; there’s no overlapping video with transitions between them on the same track. This can really slow you down when you go to tweak an edit.
With that in mind, years ago we created some Animation Presets for Adobe that automatically perform fades and crossfades without the need to manually place and edit keyframes. Many still don’t know those exist, so they’re the subject of this week’s After Effects Hidden Gems.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | October 27, 2015
When Apple first released Motion, it introduced a new animation paradigm: instead of having to keyframe the start and stop values for every movement, you could apply Behaviors when you could just say “move in that direction at this speed” as well as apply other pre-coded animation instructions.
The After Effects team was anxious to show that the same result could be accomplished using their Expressions (another supplement to or replacement for ordinary keyframes), and contracted us to develop a set of Behaviors for After Effects. These are included inside the Animation Presets installed with AE. If you haven’t explored these yet, we’ll be covering them in the next three After Effects Hidden Gems.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | October 20, 2015
One of the secrets to truly learning After Effects is understanding its internal render order (sometimes called the “order of operations”): the order in which it performs tasks such as transformations (scale, rotation, etc.), masking, effects, and so on underneath the hood. This will help you troubleshoot problems when the program’s not doing what you expect, such as when a shadow rotates with the layer instead of always falling in the same direction.
Fortunately, there are a couple of tricks you can use to rewire this render order.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | October 13, 2015
The strength of After Effects is its ability to composite together a stack of layers to create a compelling final image. However, a funny thing happens when you try to fade out all of those individual layers at the same time: Previously opaque layers start to reveal what was behind them during the fade, which can be distracting.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | October 6, 2015
When you shoot a fast-moving object with a longer shutter time (half of the frame’s duration is the typical “filmic” setting), you will get natural motion blur. However, if your shutter speed is too fast, or if you rendered a 3D scene with fast motion and no motion blur, objects will appear to jump from location to location between frames, resulting in distracting stuttering or strobed motion. Fortunately, you can “fix it in post” with a few different effects out there, including the Pixel Motion Blur effect included with After Effects. Does it work every time? No. Can it help a lot of the time? Yes.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | September 30, 2015
After Effects features a 3D Camera Tracker that examines already-shot footage and attempts to reverse-engineer where the camera was during the shot, creating a 3D camera to match. This allows you to add new objects in 3D space that match the movement and perspective of the underlying footage.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | September 28, 2015
After Effects offers two ways to adjust the volume of an audio layer: the Levels parameter in the Timeline, and the Stereo Mixer effect, which can be added to a layer. Levels works on a logarithmic scale to match the way sound loudness actually works in the real world; Stereo Mixer uses a linear 0-100% (and higher) scale similar to Opacity. Which one should you choose? Both, actually - but use them for different purposes.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | September 21, 2015
After Effects is a very logical program if you know it works underneath the hood, and a baffling mystery if you don’t. One example of this is the subject of frame rates: Normally, the last comp in a chain determines what frame rate will be used by all the precomps, and this can be overridden again the Render Settings. But what if you really, really need to lock down a precomp’s frame rate, because you’re creating stop motion, have a mask tracked to every frame of footage, etc.? The secret lies in the Preserve Frame Rate switch.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | September 14, 2015
One of the features we miss the most in the old, discontinued Vector Paint effect for After Effects is the ability to automatically wiggle our strokes. Fortunately, you can recreate this look using a combination of stroked shape layers and the Wiggle Paths operator:
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | August 31, 2015
Lines: They show up everywhere, from underscores for text to animated elements flowing across the screen to mapping out paths. Many After Effects users employ the woefully under-featured Stroke effect to create these lines. After last week’s Hidden Gems, now you know about its more powerful cousin, the Write-on effect. This week, we present another alternative: Using Shape layers, and taking advantage of the little-known Dashes section to customize the look of your line.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | August 24, 2015
The Stroke effect in After Effects is a workhorse, but it has one major limitation: It’s width is constant over the entire length of the stroke. You can edit and even animate its Brush Size parameter, but this changes the entire stroke. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could make a stroke become thicker or thinner at select points along its shape? You can: It’s called the Write-on effect.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | August 17, 2015
A favorite motion graphics effect is wiping on an intricate, curved object (such as handwritten text) as if it was being painted or drawn. It would seem that animating a mask shape with a bit of feather or motion blur would be a good approach, but you can quickly get yourself tied into knots. The better approach is to use a Stroke effect to follow the lines and curves in the original, and then change its compositing mode to reveal instead of cover the original:
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | August 10, 2015
We were commentating on a Faceoff competition at the annual Motion Conference, where three artists have to finish an opening animation within an hour while onstage with the hosts breathing down their necks. That year's project involved beer branding, and one contestant decided to animate bubbles rising in a glass. They drew and animated one bubble...then hand-animated another...then hand-animated another...and soon had to move on to another part of the task to meet the deadline, when more bubbles would have looked better. It turns out, there was a better way...
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | August 3, 2015
After Effects CC 2015 introduced a greatly overhauled previewing scheme, including the ability to edit your projects while previews are still playing back (discussed in our overview of the new release). However, many users have not gotten that far, instead getting tripped up on the way normal “let me just watch” previews work - leading some to declare it buggy or unpredictable. There were indeed a few bugs with it - many of them fixed by the recent update - but there may still be some gaps in understanding how the new behavior works.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | July 27, 2015
Whereas some effects process every pixel in a layer more or less evenly (think blurs or color correction), others generate new pixels based around a specific point on a layer (for example, particle systems and lens flares). You can define where that Effect Point is on a layer, and even animate it - but unlike a normal Position path, the path between the keyframed positions for Effect Points are not visible in the Composition panel. This has led more than one After Effects user to assume they have no control over the shape of that path.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | July 20, 2015
The built-in 3D implementation in After Effects is nowhere near as deep as a dedicated 3D program. However, it does have a few good tricks up its sleeve. On is Adjustment Lights, where you can determine which layers receive a specific light. This is akin the lighting sets in more sophisticated 3D programs.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | July 13, 2015
Last week, we posted a short tutorial on using expressions to measure the distance between two points. This was triggered by playing around with the new Face Tracker in After Effects CC 2015, which in Detailed Features mode generated a number of point controls that track different facial features including the eyes, corners of the mouth, and so on. A reader asked, “so what if you want to know the angle instead of distance?”
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | July 13, 2015
You could be forgiven for thinking that to illuminate 3D layers in After Effects, you just add one or more 3D lights and edit their parameters to taste. But that just controls how a light is cast - if you want to also control how a layer receives that light, it’s worth a dive into the layer’s Material Options.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | July 8, 2015
One of the major new features in After Effects CC 2015 is a Face Tracker. With this, you draw a loose mask around the target’s face, and the Face Tracker will automatically snap it to enclose the chin, cheeks, and forehead, plus track changes in it from frame to frame. In addition to this “Outline Only” mode, the Face Tracker also has a “Detailed Features” mode which exposes 25 individual points on the face After Effects has auto-located and is tracking. Once you have this information, you can do a few creative things with it, such as using this data to measure aspects of the face such as eye position or width of the smile for a display graphic - which we demonstrate in this article.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | July 6, 2015
An After Effects project can fill up quickly with unused items as we try out different sources an ideas. This leaves it in less than ideal condition when it comes time to hand it off to another user, or to archive it for later retrieval. Fortunately, there’s a submenu in After Effects which helps automate cleaning up and archiving a project: File > Dependencies.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | June 29, 2015
After Effects is not a video editing program - but it does have a few good editing tricks up its sleeve. One is Sequence Layers, which can take a group of layers - in the order you select them - and quickly arrange them end to end, with or without crossfades:
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | June 22, 2015
It’s not uncommon to working on a layer in a composition - including editing its duration, adding effects, or even keyframing an animation - and then decide you might like to see a different source in its place. This may happen for several reasons: The temp footage got color corrected; you’ve been working with a test 3D animation and later the animator delivered the final; you wanted to try alternate takes of the shot (especially common when you have several stock footage sources based on the same theme), or the client simply changed their mind (never!).
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | June 15, 2015
Back in April, we gave a preview of the major new features planned for what is now known as After Effects CC 2015 (also known as 13.5). Now that this version is available for download to Creative Cloud subscribers, we thought we’d flesh out those thoughts a bit based on more time using this new version, including important installation advice as well as other user gems and gotchas with the major new features.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | June 15, 2015
Some effects - usually those in the Distortion category - will try to create new pixels in After Effects that should appear beyond the layer’s original boundaries. Sometimes, it’ll be okay - but sometimes, they’ll get clipped off by the layer’s boundaries:
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | June 8, 2015
Not all pixels are created equal. Different devices often use different internal representations for the same color we see. HDTV video is one color space, which is fortunately related to sRGB (the default for many computer-connected devices). But still images from a professional photographer are probably in Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB color spaces, which is rather different. And anybody creating graphics without color management - from Illustrator logos to 3D renders - may be unwittingly creating imagery in the color space of their specific monitor, which might not be related to any of your other sources.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | June 1, 2015
Have you ever had a mysterious problem in After Effects where frames are repeated, skipped, or even missing? Chances are they can be traced back to a problem with source footage’s frame rate, and mismatches between it and that of your composition. Even footage that displays the same number for frame rate may have a rounding error under the hood that causes problems when dragged into an After Effects comp.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | May 26, 2015
One of the most fun and challenging jobs you can work on is a multi-screen projection. The common way to tackle this in After Effects is to create one large composition that represents all of the screens put together, create your animation in that, and then break it into its individual projections when it comes time to render. However, many tackle the rendering phase wrong.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | May 18, 2015
A common trick is to use the Stroke effect to wipe on a line along a mask path. You can do the same using the Trim Paths operator for a shape layer. But, how can you control where that path starts and ends? The secret is understanding the First Vertex Point. If you drew a mask or shape path by hand, this is where you first clicked with the Pen tool. But if the path was created automatically - say, by converting a text layer into outlines - this first point is determined by the software, not you.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | May 11, 2015
Using After Effects is often the art of combining multiple layers and elements to create a pleasing final composite or animation. However, you don’t always want every element to appear in that final render. If you didn’t remember to switch them off before the final render, they could ruin the result, requiring a re-render. Fortunately, there’s the Guide Layer switch, which tells After Effects to only use that layer when previewing the composition it appears in, but otherwise not to use it in compositions downstream or in the final render. Here’s a couple of examples where that comes in handy:
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | May 4, 2015
If you’re an After Effects user, you’re familiar with the Tools panel along top of the user interface. However, if you’ve been mousing up to that panel to change tools, you’re wasting time; you can change tools by pressing its corresponding shortcut key, revealed by hovering the cursor over it to reveal its Tool Tip and committing it to memory. But even better, you can temporarily change to that tool only when you need it, and automatically return to the Selection tool (the one you use most often) when done.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | April 27, 2015
Motion tracking in Adobe After Effects is usually about making a new layer follow the movement of a target in a piece of video. But what if you want to have multiple layers follow that target?
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | April 20, 2015
It’s common to re-use the same effects and settings throughout an Adobe After Effects project to create a consistent look - for example, when treating text or a logo. But all too often, clients change their minds during a project, forcing you to go back and change every instance of that identical text or logo treatment. Wouldn’t it be nice to edit only one example, and have those changes ripple through every identical usage of that treatment throughout your After Effects project?
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | April 13, 2015
If you haven’t run into this yet, you will: Two edges that should like up perfect in After Effects exhibit a partially transparent seam. No, it’s not a bug or a mistake in your math; it has to do with the way anti-aliased edges and alpha channels are calculated.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | April 8, 2015
The Adobe After Effects team makes a point of regularly polling its users to hear what they might want next. What came back was not just a desire for shiny new features, but also increased performance. In response, the After Effects team embarked on a long-term project to rewire how this 20+ year old program works internally, which is the cornerstone of the just-announced (but not yet released) next version of After Effects. But performance isn’t the whole story; a couple of very intriguing shiny new features are also slated for this release. We’ve had the opportunity to work with a pre-release version; here’s a preview of what you can expect later this spring.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | April 7, 2015
Next week, all the new gadgets announced at the NAB show will be grabbing our attention and asking for a look inside our wallets. However, it's easy to miss many of the useful features we may already have in our current tools, which we either forgot about or may not be aware of to begin with. Therefore, next week we'll be launching a new course on lynda.com: After Effects Hidden Gems Weekly.
Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | January 29, 2015
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Written by Chris and Trish Meyer | December 9, 2014
We recently added several movies to our After Effects CC Updates course on lynda.com, covering the new user interface design, CINEWARE v2 and CINEMA 4D Lite R16, mocha AE CC 2014, Dynamic Link color management changes, and the embedded Adobe Color Themes panel (formerly known as Adobe Kuler). We selected the movie on mocha to be the freebie for this round, as not only does it cover the user interface and feature updates for this new version, it also gives a very quick tutorial of performing a simple track or stabilization inside mocha AE:
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Philips: a new 4K UHD 23.8 inch monitor
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