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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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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 37B and 37C - Expressions and Scripting Bonus Chapters

This time, a collection of resources on expressions and scripting - including a PDF of Bonus Chapter 37C on scripting.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | September 02, 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 addition to the book's introductory chapter on expressions that we covered last week, the dual-layer DVD-ROM that comes with CMG5 includes bonus chapters on both expressions and scripting. Rather than try to boil down nearly 70 pages of PDFs into our customary handful of gems, this week we thought we'd share a set of resources on scripting and expressions - including Bonus Chapter 37C itself, written by Dan Ebberts of MotionScript.com. Read More

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Coke Classic: Final Cut Studio is Back

You can still buy seats of the pre-X version - but what does that get you?

By Chris and Trish Meyer | September 01, 2011

As has been reported and confirmed by multiple sources, you can once again buy Final Cut Studio. You won't find it (yet?) in the physical or online Apple stores; you have to call 1-800-MY-APPLE, ask for part number MB642Z/A, and pay $999 ($899 educational).Great. So? When FCP-X came out, some tried to placate the naysayers by reminding them that the new version wasn't compulsory; they could just continue to use the previous version - it's not like their licenses had been taken away. The reply was yeah, but we'll eventually need updates and support as hardware and the OS change - why continue to invest effort into a dead product? And unless Apple is about the announce the biggest mea culpa since Avid said they were abandoning the Mac (or Coke quietly took New Coke off the shelves), that part hasn't changed, regardless of whether you can buy additional copies or not. With Apple's professional video division focused on the numerous fixes enhancements that have been requested and promised for FCP-X, I just don't see them launching a parallel development effort to update FCS as well. (Let me know if you've seen job postings for Apple that indicates otherwise.)What this move probably reflects was that some large customers weren't going to switch to FCP-X just yet, and in the meantime needed additional licensed copies. And more importantly, it shows that Apple listened, and reacted. And that's something.

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 37 - Expressions

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 37 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | August 27, 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.Creating expressions - the ability to tell one parameter to follow another, stay at a constant value, or create new values as the result of ingenious calculations - is one of the most powerful features in After Effects. For many, it is also one of the most daunting:?To get the most out of it, you have to deal with math and what looks suspiciously like computer programming. But it's not that bad!?In this chapter of CMG5, we show you how to make expressions work for you with minimal effort; here are a few choice tips culled from that chapter. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 36B - Audio Effects

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Bonus Chapter 36B of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | August 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.After Effects comes with several audio processing effects located inside the menu Effect > Audio. We discussed the basics of audio plus the Stereo Mixer effect in the book's Chapter 36; in the Bonus Chapter we discuss some of the other effects, including how they work as well as some suggested applications for their use. Our personal bias is more toward audio "sweetening" than special effects creation, and that is our focus in the bonus chapter on the book's DVD, and in the tips we share here. Of course, the effects available in a dedicated program such as Adobe Audition are far more capable than the rudimentary ones included inside After Effects, but surprisingly often the After Effects versions are all you need to perform simple enhancements. Read More

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CMG Hidden Gems: Chapter 36 - Working With Audio

Another selection of "hidden gems" (and essential advice), this time from Chapter 36 of Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects.

By Chris and Trish Meyer | August 12, 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 has never made audio one of its strong points. If you need to seriously rework a soundtrack, do it in a dedicated audio program (such as Adobe Audition, which is now part of the Production Premium suite as of CS5.5). But if you just need to edit, mix, and do some basic improvement or "sweetening" to your sound track, After Effects already has the tools you need. In this installment, we'll share some tips on working with audio; in the next installment, we'll cover audio effects. Read More

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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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