Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects is the industry standard tool for motion graphics and visual effects. After Effects compositing tools enable you to combine multiple layers of video and images seamlessly into the same scene. Use keying effects to remove a background, or use rotoscoping and masking tools to isolate any object.
Adobe After Effects is a digital motion graphics platform used to create either simple animations or intricate graphics sequences. It’s a “hard to learn, easy to master” type of program, but once you get the hang of it, it’s essential for creating motion graphics or visual effects for your projects.
Primary Panels in After Effects
If you are considering taking an After Effects course, you will be learning about the many panels used in the After Effects interface. Here we describe many of the panels you’ll be using when creating motion graphics, compositing video, or visual effects.
Composition: The Composition panel is one of the most important panels in After Effects. It is the preview window and the main animation space that you work in when building an After Effects project. You can build your animated projects in this panel, and it has features you can use to change how your composition previews.
Perhaps you want to create, show, or hide guidelines. Or maybe you need to isolate the alpha channel of your composition so that you can see which areas are transparent and which are opaque. This can all be accomplished in the Composition panel. In this exercise, you will work with the Composition panel to change the preview resolution of the display and learn how to reveal a composition’s alpha channel.
Effects Controls Panel: Use the Effect Controls panel to edit effects you have applied to layers in your Compositions. While this panel is not a part of the Standard workspace, you can access it using the Window menu by choosing Window > Effect Controls or by double-clicking any effect displayed under a layer on the Timeline.
To access effects you have applied to a layer, you must first select the layer by clicking it in either the Timeline or Composition panels, or by using a keyboard shortcut. The layer numbers in your active composition correspond to the digits on the number pad if you are using a full-size keyboard. If you do not have a layer selected, or if the selected layer doesn’t have any effects applied to it, this panel remains blank.
After Effects Flowchart Panel: The Flowchart panel provides an organizational chart, or a graphical representation of the relationship between compositions and footage items in your After Effects project. The Flowchart panel is a passive tool that displays the relationship between elements in your project; you cannot use it to change those relationships.
This panel can come in handy when working with very complex animations that might contain multiple nested compositions. To view the flowchart for a Composition, you must first select that composition in the Project panel or make it the active Comp in the Timeline, then chose Composition > Composition Flowchart.
The After Effects Footage panel: When working in After Effects, you will use the Footage panel to preview individual pieces of footage. Double-clicking any piece of imported media in your Project panel causes it to preview in the Footage panel. You can also use the drop-down menu at the top of the panel to choose footage to preview.
The After Effects Layer panel: Once added to a Composition in the Timeline panel, a footage item becomes a layer inside of that comp. In fact, any item that is added to a Composition becomes a new layer; this can include audio, video, text, solids, lights, cameras, and more. One of the aspects you will get used to when working in this application is that every item in the Timeline panel is its own independent layer. Double-clicking a footage layer in the Composition panel opens it in the Layer panel.
A footage layer contains a file that has been imported into the Project panel, as opposed to an item that is created in After Effects, such as text or a composition. Some effects, such as paint, motion tracking, and stabilization, cannot be applied in the Composition window but must instead be applied in the Layer panel. Here, you will explore the Layer panel.
The Project panel in After Effects: The Project panel contains references to all the footage files (video, audio, and images) that you have imported into your After Effects Project. It also contains all the Compositions that you have created in your current project. The media items are denoted as references because of the way the program treats imported files. When imported, your media files remain in their original location on your hard-drive; After Effects creates a link to them. If these files are modified outside After Effects, the application generates a new preview and updates your project accordingly.