Week 03

Week 03 – Topics

Advanced Animation Techniques
Manipulating key frames

  • keyframe basics
  • the Work Area
  • Anchor Point 101
  • Anchor Point overview
  • Pan Behind tool
  • Faux Motion Control
  • motion control moves
  • the Graph Editor
  • Speed versus Value Graphs
  • panning and zooming time
  • editing graph curves
  • easing animations
  • Graph Editor Sets
  • Separate Dimensions
  • Float Like a Butterfly
  • Motion Sketch
  • Smoother
  • Auto-Orient
  • Motion Blur
  • Roving Keyframes
  • Time-Reverse Keyframes
  • Hold keyframes
  • time display and timecode
Week 03 – Assignments

1) Complete reading from AEA (After Effects Apprentice) textbook: Chapter 2 “Lesson 2 –  Advanced Animation”

2) Complete animation outlined in Lesson 2 – Advanced Animation. Use the Lesson 2 files included on the DVD of your AEA textbook. You may also use the class notes below to supplement the information in the AEA textbook.

Create two of your own animations: one using “Hold Keyframes” (pages 58-59) AND one Using the “Motion Sketch panel” (pages 52-55). You may use the source files from your textbook DVD, or your own source files. Be prepared to hand-in the final files to the instructor’s dropbox at the beginning of next class.

If you do not have your AEA textbook yet,  you may download the source files you need for this assignment from the class server here: http://www.everythingaboutweb.com/grdes71

This will be the last week, that the files will be provided. You must have your textbook by our next class.

Additional resources for the Lesson 2 – Advanced Animation can be found in our other AE textbook:
“After Effects CS4: Visual QuickPro Guide.”
Chapter 9: Keyframe Interpolation

3) Reading for next week from AEA book – Chapter 3 “Lesson 3 –  Layer Control”

4) Project 1: “Sketch” first animation project (Storyboard sketch due week 5). Your first animation project will be a simple typographical animation: Typography in Motion (Midterm project due week 9).

Your “Typography in Motion” project must exhibit type demonstrating two pairs from the following four emotions/states:

1. Slow – Fast
2. Happy – Sad
3. Harmony – Chaos
4. Birth – Death

This project must use type and animate the words from the pair of emotional states.  For example if you choose Happy – Sad as one of your pairs, you will animate these two words to communicate the emotional state. This is a typography exercise in addition to motion design.

Using the ToolFarm Storyboard template (or your own storyboard template) start work on creating the storyboard for your project. By Week 5, post an image of your storyboard to your Tumblr blog and write a paragraph about the concept for your animation. I will ask you to bring in your storyboard on Week 05.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to post the URL to your Tumblr blog to the Comments sections below.

What is a storyboard?

Storyboards are graphic organizers such as a series of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, motion graphic or interactive media sequence, including website interactivity.

The storyboarding process, in the form it is known today, was developed at the Walt Disney Studio during the early 1930s, after several years of similar processes being in use at Walt Disney and other animation studios.

What is the benefit of a storyboard?

One advantage of using storyboards is that it allows (in film and business) the user to experiment with changes in the storyline to evoke stronger reaction or interest. Flashbacks, for instance, are often the result of sorting storyboards out of chronological order to help build suspense and interest.

The process of visual thinking and planning allows a group of people to brainstorm together, placing their ideas on storyboards and then arranging the storyboards on the wall. This fosters more ideas and generates consensus inside the group.

Storyboard template

A storyboard template provided by ToolFarm.

Storyboard examples

Storyboards for Motion Graphics
Typographic Motion Design Piece
Blind: Newport Beach Film Festival

Importing Photoshop and Illustrator files

After Effects can import Photoshop and Illustrator files several different ways:

  • flattened into a single image
  • selecting just a single layer to bring in
  • as a composition where all of the layers exist as their own footage items which you can then animate.
Lesson 2 – Advanced Animation

36    keyframe basics
37    the Work Area
Anchor Point 101
38    Anchor Point overview
39    Pan Behind tool
Faux Motion Control
40    motion control moves
The Graph Editor
42    the Graph Editor
43    Speed versus Value Graphs
44    panning and zooming time
45    editing graph curves
46    easing animations
47    Graph Editor Sets
48    Separate Dimensions
Float Like a Butterfly
52    Motion Sketch
53    Smoother
54    Auto-Orient
55    Motion Blur
56    Roving Keyframes
57    Time-Reverse Keyframes
58    Hold keyframes
60    time display and timecode

Page 36.  keyframe basics

Keyframes provide two main functions:

  1. They define a parameter’s value at a specific point in time
  2. They contain information about how those values before and after that point in time.

The behavior is referred to as a keyframe’s interpolation.

Interpolation consists of two components:

  1. Velocity: or how fast a value is changing over time.
  2. the keyframe’s influence: how abruptly speed changes occur around the keyframe.

Most keyframes are temporal but some are also spatial:

  • Temporal: keyframes that define ow values change over time.
  • Spatial: keyframes that define change of position and where a layer is in the composition’s space for a given time.
Page 37.  the Work Area

The gray bar above the layers bars in the timeline defines the length of the current work area. RAM previews are restricted to the duration of this bar.

Anchor Point 101
Page 38.  Anchor Point overview
  • Open Lessono2.aep and go to comp named 01Anchor Point Starter.
  • Drag the source file Flower.ai  to the Comp panel.
  • When the image is scaled, it scales from the center. But we might want the flowers to scale or “grow” from the bottom. We can do this if we move the Anchor Point.

The small crosshair in the middle of the Layer panel is the layer’s Anchor Point. The Anchor Point is the point at which the element will rotate or scale. If an anchor point is in the center, the layer will rotate and scale from the center, if the anchor point is at the bottom of the comp, it will rotate or scale from the bottom.

Page 39.    Pan Behind tool

The Pan Behind Tool is a great shortcut for moving the Anchor Point.

  • Type “Y” to select the Pan Behind tool (also called the Anchor Point tool).
  • Move the Anchor Point to the bottom of the flower. Now when you scale, the flower will scale from the bottom.
Faux Motion Control

Double click on the comp 02a-MotionControlstarter.
Drag the Auto Race.jpg image to select a car and scale it to fit the window. Note that you have to re-tweak the position.

Page 40.    motion control moves

You can add a layer larger than your composition and then pan and zoom around that image. The secret is to animate the Anchor Point instead of Position.

  • Double click on the comp 02b-MotionControlstarter.
  • Press Command + / (forward slash) to add the image to the center of your comp.
  • Press A for Anchor Point and S for Scale. Be sure to set the stopwatches and start at the beginning 00:00:00:00.
  • In the Layer Panel, set the View popup to Anchor Point Path.
  • Drag the crosshairs to the center of the car or cars you want to see.
  • Back in the Comp panel, zoom to find the scale you want.
  • Move your cursor to the end of the timeline 00:00:04:00.
  • In the layer panel, move the anchor point to another car and scale this car in the Comp panel.
  • If you remembered to set your stopwatches, you will see a Motion Path in the Layer panel.
  • Drag the Bezier handles to create an arc. (If you can’t see the handles clearly, press Command and drag out a handle from the keyframe icon).
  • Preview your comp
The Graph Editor

I’m not going to demonstrate the Graph Editor in class, but please read through this section and complete the demo on your own.

Page 42.    the Graph Editor

The Graph Editor helps you master your animation by refining your fkeyframes and the way values interpolate between them. The Graph Editor is a more precise tool for manipulating keyframes.

In this chapter, we’ll cover the basic principles for using the Graph Editor but will not go into further details about it.  Using the Graph Editor can become very complex and could be an entire course of it’s own!

Page 43.    Speed versus Value Graphs
Page 44.    panning and zooming time

You can zoom in and out in the Graph Editor and the normal keyframe display in a variety of ways.

Page 45.    editing graph curves

To edit a curve, you may drag the keyframe either upward or downward. Add the Shift-key when you drag to constrain your movements.

Rather than keeping constant speed, you should incorporate Easing.
A quick way to do it is to employ the “EasyEase keyframe assistant.”

  • Select Animation > Keyframe Assistant >  Easy Ease or > Easy Ease In.
  • Click on one of the Easy Ease buttons along the bottom of the Graph Editor.
  • Press F9for Easy Ease or Shift+F9 for Easy Ease In.
Page 46.    easing animations

The Easy Ease shortcuts are best used on the first and last keyframes.

Page 47.    Graph Editor Sets

To see all of the graphs at one time, create a Graphic Editor Set:

  • Between the word “Position” and the animation stopwatch to its left is a “Graphic Editor Set” button. Enable it.
Page 48.    Separate Dimensions

Some movements require separate controls over each dimension. Therefore, you have the ability to “un-bundle” these values.

  • Click on the Graph Editor Set button to enable it.
  • Make sure the Position parameter is selected in the Timeline. Then click on the “Separate Dimensions” button underneath the Graoh Editor.
  • The position value will now be replaced by separate X and Y parameters. (color coded red for X and green for Y).
Float Like a Butterfly
  • Open comp 05a-Butterfly Flight starter
  • Select Butterfly 2.tif and reduce it’s Scale to around 65%
  • From the Workspace popup, select Animation
Page 52.    Motion Sketch

The Motion Sketch panel captures your mouse movements in the comp’s image area and converts them into Position keyframes.

  • Make sure the background is checked in the Motion Sketch panel and then click the  “Start Capture” button in the Motion Sketch panel.
Page 53.    Smoother

After you use Motion Sketch, you’ll have a large number of Position keyframes. You can use the “Smoother” panel to simplify your animation by removing some of the keyframes.

  • Set the Tolerance value and then click “Apply.”
Page 54.    Auto-Orient

In order to keep an element oriented and rotating along it’s path:

  • Choose Layers > Transform > Auto-Orient.
  • Select Orient along Path and click OK.
  • Select Rotation to change it’s rotation parameters so it doesn’t skid sideways!
Page 55.    Motion Blur

When moving objects are captured by a normal camera they might appear blurry, After Effects can mimic this through the use of Motion Blur.

  • In the Layer panel, toggle on the Motion Blur switch (the hollow box underneath the switch that looks like a circle with an echo.)
  • Also toggle on the large Enable Motion Blur button along the top of the timeline panel in order to see it during your RAM Preview.
  • To render more or less blur open Composition > Composition Settings, click on the Advanced tab and change the shutter angle.
Page 56.    Roving Keyframes

To create smooth speed changes over time even when you have a bunch of position keyframes in space, you can use the Graph Editor to “Rove Across Time,” to maintain a smooth speed curve between the first and last keyframes,

  • Double-click Postion to make sure all of the Position keyframes are selected.
  • Open Animation > Keyframe Interpolation. Click on the Roving popup and select “Rove Across Time.” Click OK.
Page 57.    Time-Reverse Keyframes
  • Double click on Position to make sure all keyframes are selected.
  • Select Animation > Keyframe Assistant. Select Time Reverse Keyframes
Page 58.    Hold keyframes

Sometimes an animation requires sudden, jerky movements. The perfect tool for the job is “Hold keyframe.”
Preview the finished movie: 06 Slam Down Final.

Open the “06 Slam down starter” file.

  • In the timecode type in 1 with a period to jump to 1 second in the timeline.
  • Select the Reject layer and press “P”, “S”  and “R” to reveal Position, Scale and Rotation.
  • Enable keyframing for all 3 parameters
  • Move cursor to 20 frames, change the position, scale and rotation of the layer “Reject.”
  • Move cursor to 10 frames and change all three parameters again.
  • Move cursor to beginning o0;00 and set up a final pose that slightly smaller and perhaps slightly rotated from the pose at 01:00.

Now preview your animation and you’ll see it’s not as hard-edged as you wanted.

  • Click on the word “Position” on the “Reject” layer and then shift-click on Scale and Rotation to select all the keyframes
  • Select Animation > Toggle Hold Frame.
  • The square shape on the right side of the keyframes indicates “hold.”

To make the frame blink

  • Move the cursor to 01:00.
  • In the layer names frame, press the left bracket key [ to start at this point
  • Enable keyframing for Opacity
  • Select Animation > Toggle Hold Frame
  • Jump tp 1:10 in the timeline and set Opacity to 0%. It automatically get the squared off keyframe to indicate the hold.
  • Select the keyframes at 1:00 and 1:10 and copy. Move to 1:20 and paste. Move to 2:10 and paste.
Page 60.    time display and timecode

Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Frames

Film: 24 frames per second (fps)
Pal video: 25 fps
NTSC video: 29.97 fps

Non-drop frame rate: assumes the frame rate is 30 fps
Dropped frame rate: timecode used by NTSC DV

Displays the frame number. Preferred by some animators and visual effects artists.

Feet + Frames
Film Editors count time by measuring the amount of film that has gone past.
35 mm film has 16 frames per foot.


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Instructor for Graphic Design 71