After Effects Notes

After Effects: All

SETTING FRAME RATE

Set Global File Import Preferences for Frame Rate
After Effects > Preferences > Import (sequence footage) I use 24fps (film)

To set the Base Frame Rate go to File > Project Settings, and change the timecode base to 24fps or your desired framerate.

Check image sequences are correct
Check individual file framerates = rightclick on file > Interpret Footage > Main

Check compositions are correct
Composition Settings = apple k (not sure on PC) or right click on composition in Project Tab.

 

SETTING COLOUR DEPTH – Linear 32 bit

Mostly we’ll be wanting to work with Linear workflow. This is very easy to setup in After Effects.

Click the number at the bottom of the project tab. should be something like 8 bpc. We’ll want to change that to 32 bpc, if using .exr images and linear workflow in maya.

We also want to check the box “Blend Colors Using 1.0 Gamma” So we can view our images in normal srgb color which our monitors are.

 

IMPORTING FILES/renaming/folders

Import Files = ctrl i (right click > import > file or multiple files)
Be sure to check the image sequence checkbox for image sequences. When importing exr’s check “open EXR sequence” under the import options of each file.

Once imported hitting return renames files (recommended)
Click Folder Icons To create folders

Good to have a Comps folder and a Maya Renders folder by default.

 

CREATING A COMPOSITION (MOVING IMAGE SEQUENCE)

A composition is a sequence of images in a time line. Create by draging files into the timeline or go right click > new composition in the grey area in the Project Tab.

Composition Settings = apple k (not sure on PC) or right click on composition in Project Tab.
Here you can change framerate and the aspect ration of your new composition.
Usually we’ll work to 720p or 1080p…

720p HD = 1280×720
or
1080p HD = 1920 x 1080

Files can be image sequences

Check individual file framerates and matte settings in
rightclick on file > Interpret Footage > Main

Click guess for Alpha unless you know what you’re doing

 

ADJUSTING ALPHA/MATTE SETTINGS

Check individual file matte settings in
rightclick on file in project window
Interpret Footage > Main

Click guess for Alpha unless you know what you’re doing

 

NAVIGATION HOTKEYS

Step in Timeline = page up/ page down

Zoom in and Zoom out of image = < >
Frame Image to Viewport Size = shift ?

Zoom In and out of Timeline = – +

Pan = spacebar hold and drag

 

TRANSFORMING A LAYER (move/scale/rot)

select arrow = v
Rotation = r
Scale = s

 

ADJUSTING LAYER BLEND MODES: Multiple, Screen Add etc

It’s very easy to adjust layer blend modes, in your composition if you can’t see the “mode” column click “toggle Switches/Modes” At the bottom of the composition window. That should display the modes column, use the drop down to adjust layer blend modes.

 

APPLYING EFFECTS: Colour grading etc

To the right hand side of the default scree is the Effects and Presets Tab. Navigate or type the name o the effect you’re after and drag it onto your image in the composition.

The project window will switch to the Effect Controls for your layer. Here you can tweak the settings of your effect.

Layers can go on individual Layers, precomps or adjustment layers (see below)

To Animate/adjust effects in the layer bar click e for effects attributes

 

ADJUSTMENT LAYERS (for effects)

Adjustment Layers allow us to put effects on multiple layers. It will effect all of the layers below the Adjustment Layer

To create an adjustment layer alt + command + y
or
Layer > New > Adjustment Layer

 

CREATING SOLID COLOURS AS LAYERS (Solids)

Solids are layers that are a user designated colour by default, we can use these as a base for many effects.

Layer > New > Solid

 

COLOUR GRADING (details)

Color grading is done by the effects tab. There are also a few plugins which can color grade as well with handy presets.

Default effects are mostly similar to photoshops color grading tools including…
Curves
Exposure
Levels
Brightness and Contrast
Color Balance and many more.

 

USING MATTES TO SELECT AREAS

In 3d we use mattes which are sort of like alphas to help us select specific areas of our scenes. We could have a matte for the skin, and another matt for the hat on a character. Using the mattes we can individually colour correct or apply effects to each layer.

 
Using A Black and White Image as a Matte
In our 3d software we render out a pass as a black and white image. The white area will be the matte. Say if we wanted a matte for the skin we could select the skin geo, aplly a regular shader make it 100% white and dial up the ambient color to 100%. This means that it’ll render out 100% white. Next we select all the other objects/shaders and make them 100% black. Render that out and we have a selection matte that can be used inside of After Effects.

(demo)

 

Using RGB and Alpha Mattes to Select Areas

A black and white matte only allows for one map. But we can combine up to 4 mattes in the one image by using the R G B and Alpha channels of our 3d render.

1. Create a composition with the layer you wish to mask
2. Add the RGBA mask to another layer, hide it so it’s not visible
3. Select the layer you wish to mask
4. Go Effect > Channel > Set Matte
5 In the Set Matte Effects settings on the layer set the mask layer to your RGBA layer and set the channel to be the colour you wish either Red, Green, Blue or Alpha.
6. Your Layer should b masked now, check the matte settings to make sure theres no halo effect around the masked area. you can play with the matte settinsg by right clicking on the orginal file and going
right click > Interpret Footage > Main or alt + command + g

Other compositing software allows us to use many more colours, but at this point I know of only doing mattes with 4 channels. If you require more just render another custom pass.

 

ADJUSTING LAYER TRANSPARENCY/OPACITY

hit t to bring up the transparency options in AE on the current layer.

 

PRECOMPS

Precomps allow us to nest comps inside each other. This makes it easier to use adjustment layers without affecting the whole image, say ignoring the backgrounds for example. It’s just a way of grouping elements together.

To create a precomp
1.select the layer or layers you’d like to group together in a new composition.
2. Go layer > precompose or shift command + c

 

CURVE MASKS

AE has curve masks that can be easily applied/modified and animated within AE

1. Select a layer
2. Go to the shape draw icon and select the shape you wish to start with
3. Double click to size it as a mask to your layer.

We can also use the “g” key

 

ANIMATING EFFECTS AND ELEMENTS

AE is made for movement to most attributes and settings can be animated.

 

ORGANISING WORKSPACES

Color code linked layers

Shy Layers

 

RENDERING MOVIES TO AN IMAGE SEQUENCE OR VIDEO

1. Select Composition to Render, usually in the composition window.
2. Composition > Add to Render Queue
3. Tweak the Settings, resolution, format compression settings etc.
4. Press Render Button (top right)

Youtube/Vimeo Internet Settings
For Youtube and Vimeo it’s best to use use 1080p (1920 x 1080) or 720p (1280 x 720)
Quicktime or avi video codec compression settings to H.264 at best quality settings. This is the codec that youtube and vimeo use, so you’re compressing so they don’t have to change it for you. This all has to do with the ratio of the best quality movies at smallest file sizes for the internet.

Best Quality Settings
There are a number of lossless compression settings that will keep full quality of your movies. This will depend on the type of image you’re rendering out.

The “Animation” codec at best settings is usually pretty goo, though if you don’t have much flat colour in your scene you can expect large file sizes.

 

SETTING UP AN AMBIENT OCCLUSION LAYER

Ambient occlusion is a layer usually rendered as a mostly white image, with black for the ambient occlusion shadows.

We apply the layer blend mode “multiply or darken”.

White Edging around Our Character or Prop?
Sometimes if the ambient occlusion layer has been rendered with an alpha we may need to set it’s premultiplied alhpa to white.

Alpha to Premultiplied – Matted With Color (white)

This setting is found by right clicking on the file in the project area and going
Interpret Footage > Main

Clicking “Guess” often does a good job at getting this right.

 

DEPTH OF FIELD

Depth of field can be created with a depth map and the “lens blur” effect. It’s notoriously slow to render but gives good results.

We can also use the Depth Map to achieve a fog like look.

YouTube / BakersTuts - via Iframely

 

CREATING VIGNETTES

Nice tip for burning vignettes rather than using a black color, very simple easy to setup.

YouTube / VibrancyDesign - via Iframely

 

CREATING GRADIENTS IN AFTER EFFECTS

YouTube / Ivan Angelkoski - via Iframely

 

EXR’s in After Effects

The following tutorial show’s how to use exr’s in After Effects. I’ve also noticed that when extracting using proEXR you must also convert each extracted comp to linear color…

Effect > Utility > Color Profile Converter (check “Linearize Input Profile”)

YouTube / guru Vaidya - via Iframely

 

MOTION BLUR IN AFTER EFFECTS

We can render out our image with no motion blur and add it with AE later. This is much faster and we have more control over our final look.

After Effect 5.5 Adobe has created the effect “Pixel Motion Blur”. This is a big time saver and works very well see this video

For older versions of After Effects we can use Reel Smart Motion Blur plugin or Time Warp, (see below)

This Video is a good introduction into motion blur.

He recommends using the Reel Smart Motion Blur Plugin or RSMB as the best motion blur for adding to video or 3d in post. Tthe Time Warp Effect is also good and does a good job and is built into AE.

When it comes to rendering Motion Blur it’s also a good idea to think about rendering the entire sequence to a uncompressed format, and then applying the effect to that as it can be a very slow effect to use.

And after effects to Maya python script (I haven’t tested but looks interesting)
http://www.creativecrash.com/maya/script/renderlayers-and-passes-to-after-effects

Instructor

Andrew Silke

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