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 to an exact point on the timeline.
    Although it is huge, drag the snowflake as instructed, so it takes the place of the missing letter in the title text.
    Manually scale the snowflake, using the handles on its outline.
  2. Open the snowflake's Position transform by pressing P, and turn on the Position stopwatch to set a keyframe.
    Move the current time indicator manually or with the keyboard command given, so it is back at the start of the timeline.
    Drag the snowflake to the upper right corner of the Comp window, which sets a keyframe at this time. Note the motion path line that appears. Each end of the motion path line is marked by an icon that stands for a keyframe. This will be important in a moment.
    If you can see them, drag the Bezier interpolation (control) handles as instructed to put curves in the motion path line, like the path shown on page 25.
    If you cannot see the Bezier control handles, follow the alternate method: hold down ctrl-alt, and drag a control handle out of one of the keyframe icons.
  3. Move the current time indicator to 00:25. Drag the snowflake to a new position that will make the path more pleasing. A new keyframe will be marked. Adjust the curve with the Bezier handles on each of the keyframe icons as needed. Save the project incrementally.
  4. This time the text does not specify the method for moving the current time indicator. Use any of the methods you have learned to to to time 1:20.
    The text tells you to make the Scale and Opacity properties appear. You could also just twirl open all the Transform properties.
    Set keyframes for Scale and Opacity.
    Question 1: What do you click to set a keyframe for these transforms?
  5. Move to the home position on the timeline. Change the Scale value for the snowflake as instructed, picking a nice value under 100.
    Question 2: What does the text tell you about choosing values over 100%?
  6. Set a new starting value for the snowflake's Opacity. It does not have to be 0, but that will give you the greatest change. Preview your work and adjust the values for Scale and Opacity, if needed.
  7. In this step you access the Rotation transform. This step will work better if you first return to timeframe 1:20 and set a keyframe for Rotation.

    The authors have not discussed it yet, but they like to establish the way an object looks at the end of the animation first, then to establish how it looks before the end is reached. This is what they had you do in each of the transforms so far: set the property at the end (time 1:20) then change it at time 0:00.

    Having set a keyframe at time 1:20, move the time indicator to 0:00 and set a new Rotation value as instructed.
    Preview, adjust, and save incrementally.
  8. This is a little tricky. The text says to move the time indicator to a time when the title and snowflake are in position. This can be any time from 1:20 forward. It can be any time at 1:20 or later because what you do next will not be related to the timeline.
  9. Follow the instructions to drag the snowboarding movie onto the Comp panel. The movie is too large to place it as you are instructed. Follow the instructions in the second paragraph to scale it, and adjust its placement as needed.
    Note that the Scale and Position adjustments in this step are not transformation animations, since they are not linked to time frames. These changes apply to the entire timeline.
  10. Use the menu command Edit, Duplicate to make a copy of the snowboarding layer. It will be placed in the same location as the original.
  11. Move the new layer so that the two snowboarding layers are in positions like the illustration on page 29. (Note: the first image in the layer will not look either of the images on page 29.)
  12. Now a magic trick. Make sure the snowboarding movie on the right is selected. Alt-drag the car in snow movie and drop it anywhere on the Comp panel. It will replace the copy of the snowboarding movie, accepting its position and scale values.
  13. The car in snow movie will be selected. Shift-click the original snowboarding layer and you will see that they are both selected. Adjust the Scale value for either layer and you adjust both at the same time.
  14. In step 36, you add a bar of color to the comp. After Effects calls a bar like this a solid.
    The instructions in the text are reversed. Click Layer, New, Solid. Follow the instructions to set the width, height, and color.
  15. Drag the new layer in the Comp panel. Use the ctrl-shift modifier as instructed to make the bar dock with the top of the composition frame. Adjust the snowboarding and car layers as needed.
  16. Follow the instructions to reduce the Opacity of the solid bar.
  17. Select the snowboarding movie and adjust its color balance with the command in the text: Effect, Color Correction, Auto Color. Note that applying an effect opens the Effects Control panel as a tab of the Project panel. The authors are correct, the auto adjustment makes the movie too white. Follow their instructions to add some of the original movie color tone.
  18. Add and adjust a Bevel effect to the snowboarding movie.
  19. Add and adjust a Drop Shadow effect to the snowboarding movie.
  20. This step needs little tweak. To copy the effects and paste them on the other movie, first click the Effect Controls tab. Second, click Edit, Select All. Third, click Edit, Copy. Fourth, click the car layer. Fifth, click the Effects Controls tab again. Sixth, click Edit, Paste. (This did not work for me if I left out step 5.)
    Adjust the Blend with Original value for the car movie layer, so it has the same tone as the snowboarding movie.
  21. Move the layers in the time panel stack as instructed, to put the movies behind the snowflake. Preview and adjust as necessary.
  22. The text offers a bit of worrisome advice: always save before rendering a production, in case the computer crashes during the render. (Oh, goody. How often does this happen?) Save incrementally. The text tells you to click the Comp panel, then click Composition, Make Movie.
    The next thing that will happen is that Windows will ask you where to save the file you are about to make. Note the default location, change the file name if necessary, and click Save. At this point, the Render Queue panel will open as a tab in the Timeline panel as the text says.
  23. The text says to leave the Render Settings and Output Module settings areas alone. DON'T DO IT!
    Click the down arrow next to Output Module, and select Lossless. This may be the default setting on a Macintosh, but it is not the default on a PC. Make this selection, then click the gold link that now says Lossless. This will take you to the Output Module Settings screen, where you can choose a value for Format. Choose Quicktime in this case.
    If you click the file name as you are instructed, you will bring up the dialog window that lets you choose where to save the rendered movie. You can change the file name and location as well.
  24. Click the Render button to render the movie. It will take a few moments to finish.
  25. Open the movie file. Show me the completed movie.

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.