CAP 151 - Introduction to Computer Animation

Lesson 1 - Basic Animation (part 2)


This lesson continues the first tutorial, finishing the first project. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Controlling when a layer runs
  2. Opacity, Scale, and Rotation
  3. Adjusting multiple layers at once
  4. Bezier handles
  5. Solids and effects
  6. Importing materials
  7. Rendering

We continue the lesson that we started last week, completing the first project in the text.

Tutorial Notes and Questions

Note: Exercises should be carried out in the classroom. You will not get very much out of them by just reading, nor will you learn what is required by just experimenting on your own. Each exercise is meant to cover specific content that you will be required to know.

Work through the exercises and turn in your answers to all questions below as part of the homework for this assignment.

Tutorial 1 (Starting a Project, part 2):

  1. Start After Effects. Open the project you started last week. Follow the instructions in the text to move the Flower Symbol layer several ways.
    Question 1: Which method creates a new layer, and allows you to set where it starts on the timeline?
  2. In this step you learn how to adjust when a layer starts in the composition.
  3. In the first part of the lesson you were given hot keys to access five transform properties (attributes) of a layer. In this series of steps you adjust several of them.
  4. Remember, the hot keys do not work unless you have a layer selected.
    Question 2: Which hot key opens the Opacity transform?
    Question 3: What do you click to set a keyframe for this transform?
  5. In the next step, you are told to press a shift key along with the hot key for Scale. (It's an S. How mnemonic.)
  6. In this step you access the Rotation transform.
    Question 4: You are told to set a keyframe before you manipulate Rotation. Why?
  7. You are told how to cause the flower to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. Experiment with it and pick one for this comp.
  8. Set the values for Scale and Opacity at the beginning of the comp as indicated. Note the adjustment keys for position, rotation, and scale in the green information box on page 23.
  9. Access the flower files in the Sources folder as instructed.
  10. Follow the instructions to scale all three pictures at once. Note that this trick works best for scaling multiple items that begin the same size and that you want to adjust to the same size.
  11. Follow the series of instructions to align the three pictures in a row. Note that you are placing the pictures in this alignment at the end of the comp.
  12. Practice changing the position on the timeline by entering a number as shown in this step.
    Question 5: How do you set a keyframe for several layers at once in this step?
  13. Add the butterfly file as a new layer and scale it as needed.
  14. Follow the instructions to create a path for the butterfly to follow across the screen. Note the four types of Spatial Keyframes described on page 26.
    Question 6: Write a short description for each of the four types. Include the drawings show at the bottom of page 26 with your explanation of each type.
  15. In this step, you correct a problem. Your butterfly image tends to stay pointed in the same direction all the time. Use the Auto-Orient command to make it point toward its flight path.
  16. In step 36, you add a bar of color to the comp. After Effects calls a bar like this a solid. Like many commands in 3DS Max (as you will see later), you begin with the bar as one size, then modify it to fit where you want it to go.
  17. In this step, you change the appearance of the comp by changing where the new solid layer appears in the stack. Note that we still call it a solid, even if we change the opacity enought to make it transparent.
  18. In this step, change the position of the solid bar on the screen. Note that this has a different effect from changing its order in the layer stack.
  19. This step begins adding a 3D feel to the comp by adding a drop shadow to one of the flower images.
  20. Once you tweak the Distance and Softness properties of the drop shadow, copy this effect as instructed, and paste it on the other two flowers.
  21. Paste the same drop shadow effect on the nectar plants text string. Note that you have to modify Distance and Softness to get an effect comparable to the one you achieved on the flowers.
  22. Follow the instructions to change the color of the large background/watermark flower. The text suggests using a green like one already used in one of the flower images. I don't think the one the authors chose is very appealing. Try some other colors to see what you can make work.
  23. You have enough drop shadows. Follow the instructions to add a bevel to the solid bar. Save the project file again.

The text pauses for two pages before finishing the project. On those pages, consider the advice about adding art to your comp from other sources. Three methods are suggested:

  • importing Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator files as flat images (all layers flattened to one layer)
  • importing a single layer of a file from the sources above
  • importing all layers of such files as separate layers in After Effects

The text returns to the tutorial with several steps about Rendering. It offers a bit of worriesome advice: always save before rendering a production, in case the computer crashes during the render. (Oh, goody. How often does this happen?)

  1. The rendering process starts with an open production file, and by selecting Composition, Make Movie. (That's what rendering is, kids, making the movie we have been composing and blocking.)
  2. The text tells you to select a folder to render the movie file into. It tells you to note what you are calling it, and where you are saving it. It does not tell you something else important: render to a local hard drive, not a network drive. Network access speeds are generally not adequate for writing this kind of file.
  3. Click the Render button as instructed.
    Question 7: Note how long it takes your classroom workstation to render this first comp.
  4. Finally, find the rendered movie. Note that it requires QuickTime to play.

In addition to the text, we will use several web resources for this course. This week's resources:

Assignment 2: The last page in the chapter has a series of suggestions for modifying the comp. Look at these suggestions, and decide on some changes of your own. Render the comp again, with a new name, with your changes. Show me the final movie when it is ready.

Assignment 3: Create a short storyboard that presents a 10 second animated Logo. The logo can be one of your own design, or one "borrowed" from the Internet. This should take the form of a pitch for 10 second commercial message.