Week 04

Week 04 – Topics

Project Goals and Objectives
Who is the Audience?
Design Principles – Properties: shape, color, surface, size
Layer Control
Trimming layers
Using blending modes and effects
In class: Storyboard sketch meetings

  • layers and stacking order
  • moving layers in time
  • trimming layers
  • trimming in the Layer and Footage panels
  • slip editing
  • Sequence Layers assistant
  • looping footage
  • image sequences
  • changing the frame rate; Time Stretch
  • Blending Modes
  • effects and solids
  • effect motion path
  • Effects & Presets panel
  • searching for effects
  • Animation Presets
  • Behavior presets
  • Layer Styles
  • Adjustment Layers
  • filmic glow
  • non-square pixels
Week 04 – Assignments

1) Complete reading from AEA (After Effects Apprentice) textbook: Chapter 3 “Lesson 3 –  Layer Control”

2) Complete exercises outlined in Lesson 3 – Layer Control. Use the Lesson 3 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.

Additional resources for the Lesson 3 – Layer Control  can be found in our other AE textbook:
“After Effects CS4: Visual QuickPro Guide.”
Chapter 5: Layer Basics
Chapter 6: Layer Editing
Chapter 14: More Layer Techniques

3) Complete TWO of the four animations outlined in the Idea Corner section of our textbook. (See page 87). Place this animations in your Week04 folder along with the rest of your files. Be prepared to hand this in at the beginning of our next class. The two I’d like you to complete start out as follows:

• In the Idea Corner folder in the Project panel, open the Idea-Adjustment Layer Alpha comp. Layer 1 is an animated butterfly created with motion sketch (Lesson 2)…
• Also in the Idea Corner folder, open the Idea-Animated Bars comp. Layer 1 (bar 1) is a full frame adjustment layer….

4) Reading for next week from AEA book – Chapter 5 “Lesson 5 – Type and Music”

5) Post a motion graphics piece to your Tumblr blog and critique the piece using the properties: Shape, Texture/Pattern, Color and Size as detailed in the notes below.

6) Continue working on Project 1: “Sketch” first animation project (Storyboard sketch due week 5). Your first animation project will be a simple typographical animation: Typography in Motion (Animation project due week 8).

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

Slow – Fast
Happy – Sad
Harmony – Chaos
Birth – Death

Project specification:
Dimensions: 640 pixels x 480 pixels
Length: 30 seconds or less.

Think about the following:

  • How should the concept of this emotion/state animate?
  • How can your composition — with the addition of time — reinforce the concept?

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.

Be sure to check out the Inspiration page for examples of projects using Typography in Motion.

Designing for Motion 

Project Goals & Objectives
  • Who is the client?
  • What does the client/organization want this project to accomplish?
Target Audience
  • Who is the Audience?
  • What are their needs and expectations?
  • What do they what the message to accomplish for the selected audience?
Motion Design Principles – Properties

Shape is one of the basic elements of design. Alone or in combination with other shapes or lines they can convey universal meanings as well as guide the eye or organize information. The three basic types of shapes are geometric, natural, and abstract.

Geometric shapes are structured, often symmetrical shapes. These include squares, circles, and triangles but also octagons, hexagons, and cones.

Natural shapes are found in nature or they can be manmade shapes. Leaves are an example of a natural shape. An ink blob is a natural shape. Natural shapes are often irregular and fluid.

Abstract shapes are stylized or simplified versions of natural shapes. Symbols found on signs, such as the stylized wheelchair shape for handicapped access, is one example.


Colors are more than a combination of red and blue or yellow and black. They are non-verbal communication. Colors have symbolism and color meanings that go beyond ink. As you design, it is helpful to keep in mind how the eye and the mind perceive certain colors and the color meanings we associate with each color.

Sometimes colors create a physical reaction (red has been shown to raise blood pressure) and at other times it is a cultural reaction (in the U.S. white is for weddings, in some Eastern cultures, white is the color for mourning and funerals). Colors follow trends as well. Avocado, a shade of green, is synomous with the 60s and 70s in the minds of some consumers.

In addition to understanding color meanings, it helps with mixing and matching colors to know the relationship of adjacent, harmonizing, contrasting, and complementary colors.


Everything around us has a texture. Sometimes we can simulate those textures with paper, but more often the textures we create in our designs are visual rather than tactile. However, those visual textures can be just as provocative or full of meaning as actual textures we can touch. It’s extremely easy to find or create visual textures for your designs. There are threee basic ways to incorporate visual texture.

Images created with photo-editing software: These textures may mimic actual textures or be imagined textures.

simulated satiny fabric Texture: mimics drapes or folds in a satiny fabric

simulated rock Texture: simulates a rough, rocky surface

simulated texture Texture: random soft circles create an imaginary texture

Digitized images of actual textures (from scans, digital photos)

straw mat Texture: a straw mat

tire mat Texture: piece of door mat made from old tires

tree bark

Symbolic textures created with lines or shapes: these patterns suggest various textures and are similar to the use of symbols or icons to represent ideas or objects

wavy lines Texture: wavy lines could symbolize water, waves, rolling terrain

overlapping circles like fish scales Texture: overlapping circles give the look of fish scales

pattern of lines Texture: a grid of lines could simulate plaid or linen fabrics, wire mesh, or other textures


Size is how large or small something is. Size is very important in making a layout functional, attractive, and organized. It shows what is most important, attracts attention, and helps to fit the layout together.

Size can be used to:

  • Show which element is the most important by making it the largest.
  • Make all elements easy to see.
  • Attract attention.
  • Contrast two elements to create interest.
  • Establish a consistent look throughout a project.

The above information can be found at http://www.online.tusc.k12.al.us/tutorials/grdesign/grdesign.htm and the about.com web site.

Lesson 3 – Layer Control

62    layers and stacking order
63    moving layers in time
64    trimming layers
65    trimming in the Layer and Footage panels
66    slip editing
67    Sequence Layers assistant
69    looping footage
70    image sequences
71    changing the frame rate; Time Stretch
72    Blending Modes
74    effects and solids
75    effect motion path
77    Effects & Presets panel
77    searching for effects
78    Animation Presets
81    Behavior presets
82    Layer Styles
84    Adjustment Layers
85    filmic glow
86    non-square pixels

In the first two lessons, we focused on animating the properties of layers. However, your sources may have built-in animation of their own – namely, the frame-to-frame movement inside a video clip. Therefore, we’re going to spend a good portion of this lesson showing how to:

  • move a clip in time
  • edit its in and out points
  • work with its frame rate and ability to loop
  • combine clips using Blending Modes – the “secret sauce” that creates rich, deeply layered looks.
  • alternate ways to work with effects, including using Adjustment Layers
  • how to take advantage of Animation Presets.
Page 62    layers and stacking order

Open Lesson 03.aep
Open > Comp >  01Layer Practice Starter

Notice that the stacking order doesn’t control playing order, the start and stop points of the layer controls the order in which footage is played.

Page 63    moving layers in time

Move the footage NYC Pandown.mov to second layer so Jet Landing.mov is the first layer in stacking order.

Click on icon in the bottom left that’s a pair of brackets to expose the In, Out, Duration and Stretch columns.
Right click in the Stretch column to hide it.

Click on the middle of the layer to slide it forward or back

  • Press the “[” left square bracket key to start the clip where the cursor is.
  • Press the “]” right square bracket key to end the clip where the cursor is.
Page 64    trimming layers

Trimming a layer “in place.” Not sliding which frame of the footage will play at a given point in time.

Shortcuts to trim:

  • To trim in point: Option + [
  • To trim out point: Option + ]
Page 65    trimming in the Layer and Footage panels

You can open the layer in the layer panel and edit the footage there.
Be sure to set the “View” popup to none or turn off the “Render” button.

The buttons below the ruler are the “Set in” and “Set out” point buttons. Notice that this will affect the same footage and change it in the timeline.

You can also trim footage before you even add it to your comp.
Click on the “Overlay Edit button to add it as the first layer to your comp.

Page 66    slip editing

Hover your cursor over the ghosted area to get the two headed arrow bracketed by two lines. This is the slip-edit tool.

Drag and notice that the In, Out points and the duration do not change but the frame visible in the Comp panel does. This is faster than sliding a layer and re-trimming it’s ends.

If you can’t see the the ghosted area of the layer bar you can still use the Slip Edit tool. Click on “Y” to get the Pan Behind Tool, now you will get the Slip Edit tool hovering on the layer itself.

When layers have keyframes:
Open >  Comp >  02 Layers & keyframes starter comp

When you slide layer 2, notice that it’s keyframes slide along with it.
When you use the slip edit tool notice that the keyframes remain in the same place. This is useful when the keyframes are keeping the same timing relationship with the rest of the composition.

When you select the keyframes before using the slip edit tool, the keyframes will move with the layer.

Page 67    Sequence Layers assistant

Open >  Comp > 03a-Sequence-Full Frame Start

Command + A to select all layers.
Open Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Sequence layers and turn the Overlay option off. Click OK.
The layers are automatically placed end to end.

Type “T” to open the Opacity parameter

  • Right click on one of the layer bars and select Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers.
  • Enable the Overlay option.
  • Use the Duration of 01:00
  • Set Transition to Dissolve Front Layer.
  • Click OK and preview.

Undo and choose the Cross Dissolve this time. Notice the dip in opacity as the top layer fades out to the next.

Open >  Comp > 03b-Sequence- Alpha starter

Command + A to select all
Type “T” to reveal Opacity.

Apply Dissolve Front Layer to this. (Notice how the layer underneath pop up?)
Apply Cross Dissolve this this.

Open > Comp > 03c- Sequence-trim Starter

  • Select all layers, start with the bottom and shift click from bottom to top layer
  • Move cursor to 00:00 and hit the [ to start all footage at the beginning of the timecode
  • Move to 4:29 and trim out point by clicking on Option + ]
  • Right click on one of the layer bars and select Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers.
  • Enable the Overlay option.
  • Use the Duration of 01:00
  • Set Transition to Dissolve Front Layer.
  • Click OK and preview.
Page 69    looping footage

Open > Comp > 04-Looping Footage starter. It should be empty.

Type Command + I to open the Import file dialog.
Import Lesson 3 > 03 > Sources > Movies. Select the Clock + Skyline.mov and click open.

Type Command + / to add it to the Comp.

Select Clock+Skyline.mov in the Project panel and click the Interpret Footage button at the bottom of the Project panel.

Set the looping parameter to 3 (3 x 10=30)

Back in the comp, Press fn + right arrow to jump to the end of the comp.
Select the Clock+Skyline.mov and type Option + ] to retrim it’s out point to this time.

Page 70    image sequences

Sometimes, you will receive a set of still image files that are intended to be played back as if they were a continuous movie. You don’t need to use the Sequence Layers assistant to make this happen; you can do it during import, setting the spacing between frames by “conforming” the resulting file’s frame rate.

Click on Preferences for After Effects and Select Import.

Change Sequence Footage from 30 to 29.97 fps.

Type Command + I to open the Import file dialog.
Import Lesson 3 > 03 > Sources > Muybridge Sequence. Select the first one and make sure the checkbox for TIFF sequence is selected, and click open.

A source file called Muybridge_[01-10].tif will be created.

  • Loop it by selecting the Interpret Footage icon. Set loop to 100.
  • Drag Muybridge_[01-10].tif to the New composition icon to open a new composition.
  • Command + K to open the Composition Settings and change to 05:00.


Change the Frame rate by going back to Interpret Footage.

Change the assume frame rate to 10 frames per second.


Page 71    changing the frame rate; Time Stretch

Add a fade up to your Muybridge sequence:

  • Move to 1:00 in timeline
  • Type T for opacity
  • Enable keyframing (Click on stopwatch)
  • Press fn + left arrow to place cursor back at 0:00.
  • Change Opacity to 0%
  • Change Interpret Footage, notice it has remained the same.
  • Right click in any column to reveal Columns > Stretch.
  • Enter a value of 200% for the stretch. The layer will take twice as long to play back. Notice it also affects the speed of the opacity.
Page 72    Blending Modes

Ways of stacking layers to make them look cool — Blending modes

Open > Comp > 06 Blending Modes starter

  • Select Muybridge_[01-10].tif and type “T” to reveal Opacity parameters.
  • Open the Mode Column. Click any column header and select Columns > Modes.
  • Select Multiply, Add, and Overlay to see the differences between these modes.
  • With Overlay selected next go to Effects > Color Correction > Levels.
  • Scrub the Gamma value and note the effect.

Click off the fx button

Effects > Color Correction > Tritone
Click on the eyedropper tool of the Midtone swatch and choose yellow, then choose a color from the background.

Page 74    effects and solids

Click Command + 0 to bring the Project panel to the front.

Open >  Comp >  07Effects Solids Modes starter

  • Select layer and apply Effect > Generate > Lens Flare (Note the crosshair in the center of the brightest point, this is called the effect point.)
  • Drag it around in the Layers panel to see what happens
  • To gain more control, we have to give an effect it’s own layer.

Delete the Effect in the Effect Control Panel by selecting it and going to Edit > Cut

Create a new layer using a layer

  • Layer > New > Solid and set it to pure black.
  • Edit > Paste to paste the lens flare effect to the Black Solid
  • Set the Mode for the Black Solid to “Add” to see the Lens Flare.

Hit Shift + “+” to move through the Modes

Apply Effects > Color Correction > Hue Saturation to the Black Solid layer

Scrub the Hue to make changes

Notice the underlying footage is remains unaffected!! That’s why we created a separate layer!

Page 75    effect motion path

Move current time to 00:00

  • In the Effects Control panel enable the keyframing for the Flare Center parameters
  • Drag the crosshair to a good starting point
  • Click on fn + right arrow to go to the end and pick a good ending point.

These values are in relation to the layer not the comp and that is why you won’t see a motion path.

If you double click on the Black Solid to open in the layer panel, select Lens Flare from the View popup and click on “Render” — you will see the motion path.

Page 77    Effects & Presets panel

Open > Comps > 08 Save Preset starter

  • Select the layer
  • Deselect the “Show Animation Presets” so you are looking only at the Effects.
  • Type “radial” in the search box
  • Double click on  “Radial blur” and it will be applied to your layer (or drag it on your layer)

The Effects Control Panel will open.
Change the center of the blur here or you can move the effect point in the Comp panel.
Play with parameters, change the type from Spin to Zoom for a different effect.

Enable the keyframing for the “Amount” for the Radial Blur in the Effects layer. Type U and this property will be revealed in the timeline panel.

Move cursor to 4:00 and change amount to “0”
Type “N” to end the work area there

Page 77    searching for effects

Try another effect, search for “tint” and double-click it to add to your layer.
Enable the keyframing for the “Amount” for the Tint in the Effects layer. Type U and this property will be revealed in the timeline panel.

Move cursor to 4:00 and change amount to “0”
Type “N” to end the work area there

Page 78    Animation Presets

What if you wanted to add this same effect to another project in the future?

You can save your Animation presets.

  • Select fn + f3 to bring effects Control panel forward
  • Shift-click to select both effects
  • Save your effects as an Animation Preset in one of two ways:
  • Animation > Save Animation Preset
  • Clcik on Create New Animation Preset icon at the bottom right of the Effects & Preset panel.

For saving, it should default to Adobe > After Effects CS4 > User Presets. Give it an name with the .ffx suffix.

Open >  Comp > 09 Apply Preset starter.

  • Type I to jump to the beginning of the layer
  • Open the Animation menu and find your new preset
  • Double-click on it or drag it to the layer.
Page 81    Behavior presets

Open >  Comp > 10 Adobe Presets starter

  • Select the layer Aerial Clouds.mov
  • Twirl open the Animation Presets in the Effects & Presets panel
  • Twirl open the Image – Creative subfolder
  • Double click on Colorize-gold dip, this will turn the clouds to a gold tone.
  • Undo and select Bloom Crystallize 2, this will create a painterly effect.

Turn the eyeball on for the Kite.ai layer.

  • Select Behaviors folder
  • Double-click “Rotate Over Time”
  • Scrub rotation parameter in the Effects Control panel
  • Undo and double-click on Wiggle-position
  • Note there are separate Behavior presets for wiggling position, rotation , scale and skey
  • Undo and try Wigglerama.
Page 82    Layer Styles

Ways to add bevels, shadows, gradients
Offer more sophisticated options than those found in the Effect > Perspective > Drop Shadow or Bevel

You can import a Photoshop file with an editable Layer Style

In a folder called My Comps, import the file Lesson 03 Layer Control > 03 Sources and select Reality_drop.psd

Select Composition: Retain Layer Sizes
Under layer options: select Editable Layer Styles.

Double click on the Reality_drop.psd and will see two layers:

  1. drop inset
  2. drop frame

Toggle eyeballs on and off to note the different styles in the layer styles

Open > Comps > 11 Layer Styles starter

  • Select Button 1 on layer 2
  • Apply Layer > Layer Styles > Bevel and Emboss
  • In the timeline panel, twirl down Button 1 on layer 2 > Layer Styles > Bevel and Emboss and change from Smooth to Chisel Hard
  • Change the Style popup to Outer Bevel or Emboss
  • Change style to pillow emboss

Experiment with parameters to get different looks

Page 84    Adjustment Layers

How to apply an effect to one layer and have it affect all the layers underneath

Open > Comp > 12 Adjustment Layer starter

  • Select Layer > New > Adjustment Layer (Note the half moon icon, this indicates that the layer is an adjustment layer)
  • With adjustment layer selected add Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Fast Blur
  • Increase the blurriness — the entire comp is affected.
  • Adjustment layers only treat the layers underneath them.
  • Move the adjustment layer to below Why We Work.ai
  • Drag down to below Muybridge layer.
  • If adjustment layers don’t cover the entire comp, they will apply only to the area covered.
  • Type “S” and scale the adjustment layer.
Page 85    filmic glow

Open Comp > 03a Sequence Layers Full frame

  • Add a Layer > New > Adjustment Layer
  • Apply Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Fast Blur
  • Toggle on Repeat Edge Pixel option
  • Type fn + f4 to open Modes and select a Blending Mode such as Screen or Overlay
Page 86    non-square pixels


  1. Timmie Boose March 11th

    Comment Arrow

    I did the first exercise on page 87 (Idea Adjustment) with my own files. It plays fine in Aftereffects but when I play the mov file, it takes forever to start and keeps stopping. i don’t get it – any ideas? Its only 510 MB.

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