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T354 Week 13 - Spring 2015

Announcements/Reality Check:

  • Your final project proposals are due this Thursday (4/16). A storyboard and/or script is due one week later (4/23)
  • The Spring 2015 Final Project Review time (assigned by registrar) is 5 - 7 PM Tuesday, May 5th.
  • We'll continue to cover AE for the next 2 weeks. We have a final quiz, which is cummulative. It will cover material from the first two quizzes (Use them to study) and the AE content we've covered since then.


  • Turn in & review homework
  • Share Final Project Proposals
  • Shape layers
  • AE Tips & Techniques

Please place your homework in your week 13 folder.

Shape Layers Review (Meyer, Chapter 32)

There are some good video tutorials on shape layers by Aharon Rabinowitz at: http://library.creativecow.net/articles/rabinowitz_aharon/Shape_Layer_Intro.php

The same tools used to make masks can make shapes. If you have no layer selected, they will make shapes.

Note that when this tool is selected, Options become visible on the right.

Pressing the Q key will cycle through the various shapes you can create.

Remember that as you are dragging the mouse to make a shape, you can modify them by pressing the curser up/down & left/right keys (See p 532).

You can use the Pen tool to create interesting shapes. You can use the G key to toggle between the Pen tool's various vertex modes.

You can create open shapes by checking the "no fill" option

Reality check: Can you create a rectangle with feathered opacity and color?

Making footage loop through Interpret Footage command

Often we have a clip of something that, as a layer, we'd like to have loop multiple times. (A movie of a spinning globe, etc.) There's no need to copy the layer x number of times. Here's a better way to do this:

  • Right click, or control click the footage item in the project window.
  • Select "Interpret Footage" -> "Main" from the pop-up window. (Or press Command-F)
  • Look at the bottom of the window that has opened. There should be a text field near the bottom where you can specify how many times it should loop.
  • Change this value to something larger than 1 (eg 50)
  • You should then be able to lengthen the layer in the layer window by pulling the end of the trim tab.

Making Animated Paths for Maps

Here's another good tutorial from Aharon Rabinowitz: http://library.creativecow.net/articles/rabinowitz_aharon/Shape_Tips_3/video-tutorial.php


Take a look at this Layers Magazine repeater tutorial

Here's another good overview of the repeater by Lester Banks

Experiment with making shape layers for 10 minutes. Be sure to use the repeater function. Then carry out the Tuesday in-class exercise:

Tuesday In-class Exercise:

  • Start out with a 1280 x 720 Comp
  • Carry out the layersmagazine tutorial listed above, but use your own clip or one of the ones provided here for the custom shape.
  • Animate the groups so that the animated characters change over time (spread out, expand, etc.)
  • Turn in an H.264 version called "shapes" and place it in your week 13 folder.


Freeform workday focusing on 3D and expressions

Intro to the Puppet Tool

Next week we'll be playing with puppets! http://vimeo.com/42349720

Particle Playground (Make fire without rubbing two sticks together): http://www.communitymx.com/content/article.cfm?cid=1A9CF

Making Text (or other layers) look more 3D

The main problem in AE is that all layers, even 3D layers are flat. There are some 3rd party plugins that give text an extruded, 3D look (Zaxwerks & Boris). Outside of these and true 3D software, here are a few things you can try that can help give an illusion of depth.

3D Text tutorial that uses the built-in shatter effect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yimdi6QOSAc

(skip ahead about 2:40 in)

A good summary of techniques can be found here:


Here's another one that uses multple layers and a GrayMachine plugin (free) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzcfVnvBk7A

Revisiting Expressions

There's an interesting article/tutorial on Expressions on Creative Cow by Dan Ebberts. Check out this link for more info.

While Parent layers Transform Properties will be carried out in the Child Layer, Expressions allow for more complicated ways to connect different layers together. Instead of passing down all of the Transform Properties as in Parenting, Expressions let you connect a specific attribute to another layer's specific attribute- and the interesting thing is that the parameters don't have to match. For instance you can tie one layer's scale value into another layer's opacity.

Expressions are based on the JavaScript language and allow you to link layers together without keyframes.

You can create expressions with the pick whip tool or type in commands manually.

Remember that you can get to a property’s expression control tool by pressing Shit/Option/=

You should see 4 icons followed by an Expression field:

  • On/Off switch
  • Graph overlay icon
  • Pick whip tool
  • Expression language menu

To view only properties with expressions, select one or more layers, and then press EE on the keyboard.

To show the expression field in the Graph Editor, choose Show Expression Editor from the Choose Graph Type And Options menu at the bottom of the Graph Editor.

There is an entire forum on the Creative Cow website dedicated to AE Expressions:

You can go there to learn more about Expressions. The AE manual also has some useful examples.

The simplest way to use Expressions is to use the pick whip tool to link one layer’s parameter to the same parameter of another layer.

When the parameters match it's easy (scale linked to scale), but when the parameters don't match (some will need to be done). AE's built in help is uesful. Don't forget about the Expressions Forum on Creative Cow.

You can modify the script with simple mathematical functions found on the numeric keypad:

  • + add
  • - subtract
  • * multply
  • / divide
  • To reverse a parameter, add *-1 at the end of the script

Convert Audio to Keyframes - Here's an audio track you can use. You can get interesting effects by connecting the amplitude (loudness) of an audio track to a parameter of another layer (E.g. scale). To use:

  • first make sure your work area is set to the entire length of the comp- or to the duration of the layer you're going to create.
  • Select your audio layer
  • Under the "Animation" menu, select "KeyframeAssistant -> Convert Audio to Keyframes"
  • It will now make a null layer that you can connect an expression to.

In-Class Exercise: 3D layer effect and Using Convert Audio to Keyframe Expressions

  • In this exercise, you'll use create the illusion of 3D or extrusion on a text layer. You'll also use the "Convert Audio to Keyframes" to make the text (or another layer) interact with the soundtrack.
  • Use a 1280 x 720 comp at least 10 seconds long
  • Create a text layer to extrude
  • Use one of the tutorials above (or any you can find) to extrude your text.
  • Find a track of audio to use. Use the "Convert Audio to Keyframes" to modify another layer. (E.g. change the scale of a text layer) You might have to add a modifier to your expression to make the effect just right.
  • When you are satisfied, make a square pixel (H.264) movie called "express" and place it in your Week 14 folder.



  • Create a Final Project Script/Storyboard
  • Read Meyer Chapter 35 (The Puppet Tools)
  • Bring in an object (E.g. a character) to animate with the Puppet Tool
  • 15 second "Promote a Cause" animation - This project should promote some sort of cause. (Examples: Give Blood for the Red Cross, Volunteer for WFHB, Donate Money to MiddleWay House, etc.) This can be serious, silly or whimsical, but should have GOOD DESIGN! Requirements:
    • A layer connected with an expression to another layer
    • At least one audio element
    • You must use at least 3 shape layers. Brownie points if you use a new technique you've learned in the last few weeks.
    • Turn it in a square pixel H.264 version.


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