Thursday, 19 March 2009

Adobe After Effects Tips #2

Projects, Compositions, Previews

Extracts from the book Adobe After Effects 7 Studio Techniques by Mark Christiansen.

- Great thing for compositing is to cooperate with Photoshop. You can then import your .psd project in the After Effects, choose import as a Composition option and you have all your layers, names etc. from PS in your AAE project.

- You can also create Photoshop file right in your current composition. Just hit Layer -> New -> Adobe Photshop File. PS automaticaly opens the file, allowing you to create whatever you want. Then when you save the file and hit Reloead Footage in your AAE project window (just highlight the newly created .psd file, right-click it and hit Reload Footage) it automaticaly finds the changes and you can continue working with in your AAE composition. Nice and easy.

- When choosing digital source media, people often consider .png to be more or less like .jpg - great compression for a cost of low quality. It's not really true - supporting 8-16 Bit Depth it can compress files heavily without a visible loss of quality.

- It's best to create a new composition by dragging your source video (if you're working with one clip as a bg) over the Create a new Composition icon in the bottom of the Project window. This way After Effects automaticaly find the exact attributes, length and Bit Depth of the video you're using.

- If your computer is too slow, don't forget to change resolution to Half or even Quarter in your Composition window. Or you can preview only a certain region of your composition by hitting a Region of Interest icon right next to the resolution slider in the Composition window and drawing a rectangular shape in your composition. You can even crop the selection by hiting Composition -> Crop Comp to Region of Interest.

- When working with 50% Magnification ratio (you know, just zooming in the composition window with your mouse wheel) it's pointless to set the Resolution higher than to Half. The same way it goes for 25% - set Quarter.

- By holding down spacebar when working in the Composition window, you can bring up the hand tool. It allows you to move with your composition (especially handy when you're working with more than 100% Magnification ratio). It's a great and universal tool you can find in all Adobe applications.

- If you go to Time Control window, unfold the pull-down menu and choose Shift+RAM preview options, you can choose to skip 1-4 frames (when you skip 1, you render every second frame, when you skip 4, you render every fifth frame). If you don't really need to see the video play real time, this method greatly improves RAM rendering times and is very useful for slower computers.

- You can quickly set the work area to the length of a layer by selecting the layer and hiting Alt+Ctrl+B.

- Martin

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