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CMG Keyframes

by Chris and Trish Meyer

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...

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NVIDIA Optix

A joint Adobe-NVIDIA research project demonstrating accelerated ray-traced 3D.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | August 09, 2011

At this week's SIGGRAPH convention in Vancouver, Adobe and NVIDIA are giving a technology presentation of ray-traced extruded text and shapes inside a "motion graphics environment" (you can read for yourself what the menu bar says; before getting too excited, note this is a technology prototype and not an announced or released product). Obviously, there are a lot of questions left unanswered at this point in time - but as we've seen in the past, a lot of other Adobe technology demos eventually become products; fingers crossed that this is the case here. Read More

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Upgrading to After Effects CS5.5?

A quick review of what's changed in recent versions

By Chris and Trish Meyer | August 09, 2011

As Adobe and their various vendors have been offering a variety of discounts and incentives this year (as well as floating the idea that you'll need to own at least CS5 to get discounted upgrade pricing on the next Creative Suite), we're guessing a lot of After Effects users who have been getting by with older versions may be thinking about upgrading. To help inform your potential upgrade decision and ease the subsequent transition, we thought it would be helpful to round up some resources - many free; some costing just a nominal sum - that explain what's changed between versions. In addition to links to relevant articles and reviews, we're including a selection of free videos from relevant courses on lynda.com (if you have trouble playing any of them, reload the page); if you don't already have a subscription to watch the rest of the courses, click through this link to get a 7 day free pass to evaluate these courses and others as part of your potential new subscription.We're going to assume you have at least After Effects CS3, which was released in 2007. We'll give an overview of major changes in CS4, CS5, and CS5.5 in each of these three pages. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 35 - The Puppet Tools

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 35 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | August 05, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.One of the most fun areas to explore in After Effects is using the Puppet tools. These provide a new way to warp layers, including shape and text layers created inside After Effects. Applications include creating character animation or just imparting fun movement to otherwise inanimate objects. Read More

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After Effects Apprentice Free Video: The Wiggle Expression

This very simple expression can be used to add randomness to virtually any parameter.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | August 02, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we've been busy this year creating an extensive, multi-course video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice. Each course has two or more movies that are free for all to view; we're re-posting those videos here on PVC to make sure you don't miss them. This movie demonstrates how to use one of our favorite expressions: Wiggle. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 34 - Roto Brush

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 34 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 31, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.The Roto Brush is a relatively new tool introduced in After Effects CS5 that helps automate creating a matte to separate a foreground from a background, such as isolating an actor from the room around him. To accomplish this, you draw brush strokes to teach After Effects the difference between the two. After Effects uses this information in conjunction with edge detection, motion tracking, and optical flow technologies to follow the changes in foreground and background over time. Roto Brush is not perfect, but it's a lot easier than hand drawing and animating precise mask shapes (plus you can use the Paint tools - the subject of the previous chapter - as well as masking to help clean up any problem areas that the automated Roto Brush may have misinterpreted). In this chapter in the Creating Motion Graphics book, we guide you through a preferred workflow for achieving good results with Roto Brush. Here are a few tips, hidden gems, and general advice from that chapter. Read More

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After Effects Apprentice: Expressions

Our latest video training course on lynda.com is a gentle introduction to one of the most powerful yet underused features in After Effects

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 30, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we're in the process of recording our book After Effects Apprentice as a series of training videos, where you get to look over our shoulders and hear what we're thinking as we work through each lesson. Our latest installment is on the subject of Expressions: The ability to define how a parameter animates using instructions such as "wiggle" compared to explicitly keyframing every value. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 33 - Paint and Clone

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 33 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 24, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.After Effects offers a basic set of non-destructive vector-based paint tools for painting on, cloning, and erasing portions of layers. In this chapter in CMG, we explore using these Paint tools, covering the fundamentals of each operation by running through a series of easy exercises. We also explore the various methods for animating strokes, and walk you step by step through automating a repair task using motion tracking and expressions. Along the way we also present tips for incorporating other effects with Paint, as well as saving custom brushes and clone presets. Although AE's Paint tools are nowhere near as evolved as Photoshop's, they are still useful for repair-oriented tasks such as cloning and fixing alpha channels, and their animation capabilities are fun. Here we'd like to share a few shortcuts, gotchas, and ideas to help improve you experience with this section of the program. Read More

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After Effects Apprentice Free Video: What Could Go Wrong?

Just because there is more than way of doing something, doesn't mean all choices are equal.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 18, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we've been busy this year creating an extensive, multi-course video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice. Each course has a selection of movies that are free for all to view; we're re-posting those videos here on PVC to make sure you don't miss them. This one takes a slightly different approach: Rather than just show the right way to do something, Trish shows you what can go wrong if you do things the wrong way. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 32 - Shape Layers

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 32 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 17, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.One of our favorite recent additions to After Effects has been Shape layers: The ability to create vector-based artwork using the Pen tool or a variety of common starting points such as rectangles, ellipses, and polygons. A nice assortment of parameters and shape effects allow you to create quite complex results with relatively little effort. And as is the case with the rest of After Effects, virtually everything can be animated. Here are but a few tips of how to create and control shape layers. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 31 - mocha and mocha shape

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 31 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 10, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.In this final chapter on motion tracking, we explore using the planer tracking system mocha from Imagineer Systems, which is bundled free with After Effects. After walking through the steps required to perform a typical corner pin track, we turn our attention to creating "shapes" (mattes defined using spline tools) that are linked to tracks, and bring the result into After Effects to use for targeted processing. As mocha is a stand-along application with its own very different user interface, those unfamiliar with mocha can find it intimidating. However, we feel working through the simple exercises we created for you in CMG5 will get you a good distance down the road to feeling more comfortable with it. Imagineer also has a lot of tutorials available on their web site. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 30 - Motion Tracking

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 30 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 05, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.This is the second of three chapters in CMG5 focus on the tools available in After Effects CS5 for motion tracking and stabilization, including the bundled 3rd party tools mocha and mocha shape. As the built-in tracker and stabilizer share many of the same tools, in the previous chapter on Motion Stabilization we covered the concepts and user interface elements that were common to both of them. In this chapter, we discuss the additional features required to make one layer follow a feature in another layer. Read More

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After Effects Apprentice Free Video: Building a Comp Hierarchy Designed to Accommodate Changes

If you have an object that's being used more than once, sometimes it's best to give it its own "precomp" to live in.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 30, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we've been busy this year creating an extensive, multi-course video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice. Each course has a selection of movies that are free for all to view; we're re-posting those videos here on PVC to make sure you don't miss them. This one tries to get some users over their hang-up about trying to keep all of their layers in one composition by showing how much easier it can be to accommodate client changes by strategically placing repeated elements in their own source composition. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 29 - Motion Stabilization

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 29 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 25, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.The next three chapters in CMG5 focus on the tools available in After Effects CS5 for motion tracking and stabilization, including the bundled 3rd party tools mocha and mocha shape. As the built-in tracker and stabilizer share many of the same tools, in this first chapter on Motion Stabilization we also cover concepts that are common to both of them.After Effects CS5.5 introduced a brand-new Warp Stabilizer which replaces the traditional motion stabilizer for many tasks. For those who have upgraded from CS5 to CS5.5, we give an overview of the Warp Stabilizer here, and then demonstrate how to put it to use here. Read More

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After Effects Apprentice Free Video: Non-Uniform Scale Issues with Parenting

A weird issue that can crop up while parenting - and how to fix it using null objects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 21, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we've been busy this year creating an extensive, multi-course video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice. Each course has a selection of movies that are free for all to view; we're re-posting those videos here on PVC to make sure you don't miss them. This one explains an obscure bug visual anomaly that can appear when parenting one layer to another that has been scaled differently in the X and Y dimensions. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 28 - Frame Rate Manipulation

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 28 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 18, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.Sometimes you need a captured movie to play back more quickly, more slowly, or backward, or to stop altogether. After Effects has options to Time Stretch a clip, which gives it a new constant speed, or Time Remap it, which allows the speed to change over time. Both of these options are covered in detail in Chapter 28. If you manipulate the frame rate and end up with staggered motion compared with the original clip, we also discuss Frame Blending which can help smooth out the result. Read More

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After Effects Apprentice Free Video: Overview of Per-character 3D Text

The difference between 2D text, and animating each character in 3D (well, 2.5D) space.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 14, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we've been busy this year creating an extensive, multi-course video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice. Each course has a selection of movies that are free for all to view; we're re-posting those videos here on PVC to make sure you don't miss them. This one explains the added control you get when you add the Per-character 3D characteristic to a text animation. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 27 - Keying

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 27 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 10, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.After Effects offers a large variety of keying plug-ins that are designed to isolate a particular color or luminance range in an image, and convert those areas to transparency. In many cases, you can ignore most of them as relics from AE's early days, and focus just on Keylight from The Foundry: a popular industrial-strength keyer bundled free with After Effects (even the trial version, as of CS5.5). That said, some of the other keyers have worthwhile specialized uses. And Chapter 27 in CMG5 also covers related topics such as edge blending and color correction. We're going to focus primarily on those fringe issues here, and leave the in-depth tutorials to the book. Read More

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After Effects Apprentice Free Video: The “Cascade” Type Animation Recipe

Getting multiple characters to transition smoothly requires diving deep into a text animator's parameters.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 07, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we've been busy this year creating an extensive, multi-course video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice. Each course has a selection of movies that are free for all to view; we're re-posting those videos here on PVC to make sure you don't miss them. This one is for those who have been trying to create their own type animations, but have trouble getting After Effects to animate more than one character at a time. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 26 - Color Management

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 26 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | June 06, 2011

We're going through our book Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects 5th Edition (CMG5) and pulling out a few "hidden gems" from each chapter. These will include essential advice for new users, plus timesaving tips that experienced users may not be aware of.If you've ever noticed that a video played back on television looks different when played back on a computer, wondered why your photos don't look the way you remembered them, or mused how colors on video look different than they do on film, you've experienced issues related to color management. Photoshop users and print professionals take color management for granted as a necessity in their line of work; conversely, very few video professionals are even aware of the issue - and virtually no video content creation programs take it into account. After Effects is a shining exception.For those new to the subject, and without a copy of CMG5, we gave a brief overview in this free article on Color Management in AE CS3 on Artbeats.com. Color Management has evolved since then; CMG5 covers it as of After Effects CS5 (there were no substantive changes in AE CS5.5). CMG5 also discuss the related subjects of working in a linear working space (also known as 1.0 gamma), floating point (including high dynamic range imagery), and Cineon (a logarithmic color space that is common for film work). Below are a few tips from this chapter: Read More

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After Effects Apprentice: Parenting

Our latest video training course on lynda.com demonstrates how to group and coordinate layers. Plus, we rescue a bonus movie from the cutting room floor...

By Chris and Trish Meyer | May 30, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we're in the process of recording our book After Effects Apprentice as a series of training videos, where you get to look over our shoulders and hear what we're thinking as we work through each lesson. Our latest installment is on the subject of Parenting. Parenting is a way to group multiple layers within the same composition inside After Effects. In this lesson, Chris shows how to set up a parenting chain, discusses what makes a good parent, and demonstrates several techniques using Parenting such as creating a title animation with a minimum number of keyframes, building a geometric construct, and bringing an anthropomorphic robot arm to life. Sidebar topics include avoiding a scaling gotcha with parenting, and creating abstract backgrounds using the Fractal Noise effect. Read More

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