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Jim Krause | Classes | P354 Program Graphics & Animation

Week 5


  • Look at artwork
  • After Effects (continued)
  • In-class AE exercises


  • Be clear as to what you are making and what purpose it should serve. If your graphic is a promo for an upcoming show, you need to let viewers know what it is, why they should watch and when it is on. Conveying information (the MESSAGE) artfully is important.
  • STRONG GRAPHIC DESIGN IS KEY - Even though you might be focused on carrying out requirements of the assignments- projects should demonstrate good design. Be sure to put CRAP to work in your compositions.
  • CRITIQUE - Putting the name, purpose & objective on your critique is important.
  • Fonts/Typography - Some are having issues picking fonts and formatting text. Look at existing styles and examples for ideas.

After Effects (continued)

Blending Modes - Blending modes determine how a layer mixes with the layers beneath it. (These work just like Photoshop.) Some work on alpha channels (stencil and silhouette) Some use lightness (Screen) Others use color. Blending modes can’t be animated.

Anchor points - Objects revolve around their anchor points. Zooming in and out is also done around the layer's anchor point.

It's usually best to move a layer's anchor point before animating the layer. You can move an anchor point with the Pan Behnd tool or double click the layer to open up the layer window. Then you can use the Move tool (V). Carry out a few simple anchor point moves to make sure you can move an anchor point.

Precompose - You can precompose a layer or multiple layers in After Effects. Precomposing is a way of nesting animated elements, and is often the answer to vexing animation problems.

Imagine you wanted to animate a car going down across the screen with turning wheels. You could first rotate the wheels on the car, then pre-compose the car and the wheels. Then you can move the nested comp (the car with the spinning wheels) down the road.

To pre-compose layers, select the layers you want to pre-compose, (Command - select to pick layers that are not right next to each other) then choose pre-compose under the layer menu.

Displaying & outputting movies in the proper pixel aspect (Square vs. Non-square pixels & Anamorphic formats)

You may have noticed that some of the videos posted to popular sharing sites (like YouTube or Vimeo) are stretched or squeezed the wrong way. This is because the movies have not been exported at the proper pixel dimensions or have an improper pixel aspect ration embedded in them.

Full raster HD formats use square pixels. (1920x1080 & 1280x720) However some subsets of these such as HDV, DVCProHD, and & XDCam HD use non-square pixels. The DV format also uses non-square pixels.

You can set the proper non-square pixel aspect ratio in After Effects through the composition settings dialog box (Command-K). The "Toggle Pixel Aspect Ratio" button in the comp window will swap between a square pixel display and whatever the non-square pixel aspect you have selected in your composition settings.

Here are some square pixel dimensions that will work for two popular aspect ratios:

4:3 Square Pixel Sizes (X/Y will equal 1.333):

  • 800 x 600
  • 640 x 480
  • 400 x 300
  • 320 x 240

16:9 Square Pixel Sizes (X/Y will equal roughly 1.778):

  • 1920 x 1080
  • 1280 x 720
  • 960 x 540
  • 640 x 360

Review spatial and temporal keyframe interpolation---------

Understanding temporal time graph (Lynda)

In-Class Bouncing Ball Exercise

  • Start out with a 1920x1080 HD Comp (10 seconds is long enough)
  • Create a ball (hint: try using a shape layer) or use one of the balls below.
  • Make sure the anchor point is in the center of the ball (hint: you might need to use the pan behind tool)
  • Animate the ball bouncing across the screen in a realistic manner.
  • Output a 1280x720 H.264 movie (E.g. 5 seconds) called ball and upload a copy to the appropriate Canvas assignment.

Thursday --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In-class exercise (Earth, moon & sun):

  • Using the supplied photoshop document (ZIP file) make a 10-second 1280 x 720 comp. See if you can make the moon rotate around the earth and the earth rotate around the sun. (Celestial objects not to scale!)
  • Hint: You only need to animate one parameter!

Using Masks in AE.

You can use simple masks to isolate parts of a layer. These can be feathered and animated over time in interesting ways.

You can access masks in the Comp window (if the masks switch is turned on) or better et, through the layer window. (To get to the layer window, double click on the layer in the timeline.)

Masks are useful for quick & dirty “text builds" (E.g. revealing one bullet point at a time). Dog Haikus TIFF

Be sure you know how to:

  • Create, remove and feather masks
  • Precompose layers
  • Duplicate items (comps, layers, etc.)
  • Split layers


Similar to Photoshop, the effects are organized into categories. Effects are applied to a layer (remember layers can contain comps, images or audio). Some effects can be manipulated by the properties of other layers.

Effect Categories

  • 3D Channel
  • Adjust - lets you alter levels, brightness, contrast & color.
  • Audio - provides limited audio effects
  • Blur & Sharpen - focus effects
  • Channel - lets you tweak the color channels
  • Distort - manipulate & distort the layers image
  • Expression Controls
  • Image Control
  • Keying
  • Matte tools
  • Noise & Grain
  • Paint
  • Perspective
  • Render
  • Simulation
  • Stylize
  • Text
  • Time
  • Transition
  • Video

To view effects in the Timeline, select the layer, then press E. To view the Effects Control Window (a floating window), press Shift-Apple-T (or Shift - Control - T).

To set initial keyframes in the Effect Control Window click on the Stopwatch icon or Option - clicking the name of the effect.

A number of 3rd party companies (Boris, Trapcode, etc.) have built their business around supplying effect packages for After Effects. These can be purchased through places such as Toolfarm.

Using Solids

Solids can be useful for adding effects (path text, lens flare, etc.) Create a solid layer and apply a lens flare effect. Now try animating the lens flare.

In-class work (cont):

Add the following to your Sun Earth Moon comp:

  • Solid
  • Mask (applied to solid)
  • Text
  • Animated effect

Render out a smaller sized H.264, square pixel version (E.g. 960 x 540) called "your IU username". Upload it to the proper Canvas assignment.


  • Design and animate a graphic with a specific purpose for TV or the web. (This could be the opening of a demo reel, an ad for a specific cause, event, or even a coporate ID, or commercial, etc.) Be sure to put design principles to work (Rule of thirds, C.R.A.P., etc.)
    • Be sure to state the specific purpose & application (web or TV) on your critique form.
    • Incorporate at least one animated text parameter from AE. You must animate a text parameter, such as tracking, NOT just the basic transform properties such as scale or position.
    • Incorporate at least one animated effect from AE. (Animate the effect's parameters)
    • Use the P354 critique form. Be sure to describe what text and effect parameters you animated.
    • Upload an H.264, square pixel version (called your username) along with your critique form to the appropriate Canvas assignment. (You can zip them together into one folder if you wish.)
  • Bring in an idea for a 30-second animated midterm project. We will share these in class next week.
  • Read Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 21 in the Meyer book.

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