May, 2010 Archives
As I said in a post for After Effects CS4, “After Effects Community Help search is better than plain ol’ Google. Really.”
To summarize that post, I’ll say this: Rather than using plain ol’ Google search, I recommend the much more efficient After Effects Community Help search. I assure you that the After Effects Community Help search will find virtually everything worthwhile about After Effects that a regular search on Google.com would—and the Community Help search will filter out a tremendous amount of noise/garbage.
The Community Help search is actually a Google custom search engine that we maintain. We enter websites that we’ve vetted as being of high quality and as providing free resources about After Effects, as well as other Adobe software.
If you find something free on the Web that is useful for After Effects users but doesn’t come up in a Community Help search, tell us, and we’ll evaluate it for inclusion. (One of the best ways to tell us about a resource is to add a comment to a relevant page of After Effects Help on the Web, pointing to the resource.)
The After Effects Community Help search is available from the upper-right corner of the After Effects application and from the top of every page of After Effects Help on the Web.
You can also do this search from the main After Effects support center page.
Note that you can just search within the After Effects Help document, too.
- Search: This reference only (Using After Effects)
- Rechercher: Cette référence uniquement (Utilisation d’After Effects)
- Suchen: Nur dieser Verweis (Verwenden von After Effects)
- Buscar: Sólo esta referencia (Uso de After Effects)
- Ricerca: Solo questo riferimento (Utilizzo di After Effects)
- この参照のみ (After Effects ユーザガイド)
- 검색: 참조 전용 (After Effects 사용)
If you have any problems with searching After Effects Help, let us know. That includes telling us if you searched for something and couldn’t find it, as well as just not knowing what word to search for.
For more information about resources available for After Effects, see “After Effects community resources (in several languages)”
The original After Effects crew drew their codenames for products from the menu of a restaurant not far from the office, Apsara. We just visited that restaurant, and apparently not much has changed. I just ate some Lort (tiny egg rolls) and some Nime Chow, which together cover three of the early codenames (Lort, Egg, and Nim Chow).
John Dickinson posted some fun CoSA and After Effects history a little while back, which tells more about the old building and the food-based codenames. While I’m at it, here’s the link to the demo reel for After Effects 1.1.
Dave Scotland provides a lot of great information about After Effects on his CG Swot website. He is especially keen on integrating 3D applications with After Effects and doing 3D compositing and animation in After Effects. His primary 3D application appears to be 3ds Max (3D Studio MAX), but a lot of what he shows is applicable to whatever 3D application you’re using. He also uses and demonstrates Trapcode plug-ins such as Particular, Starglow, and Shine.
One of the things that I like about Dave’s tutorials is that he uses 3D in just about every composition, showing that adding lights and shadows and camera moves to animations can, well, add a lot of depth and a whole new dimension to any animation.
Dave uses the Fractal Noise effect a lot, whether to create star fields, brushed metal, or other organic textures. The one thing that I’d recommend is to consider using the Turbulent Noise effect, instead. Turbulent Noise was new in After Effects CS4, and it was added to provide almost identical features but with higher performance and more natural dynamic animation.
Here is a list of a few of the tutorials that I liked and what I found especially useful in each:
- “Layer Styles Logo”: This tutorial shows how to use layer styles within After Effects to create a metallic logo with a brushed metal texture and rivets.
- “Underwater Scene in After Effects”: This tutorial shows how to use parenting to rig a simple animated fish character. This tutorial uses Particular to create a school of fish from a single fish, but you can use other particle effects to do the same thing. Dave also shows how to use the Turbulent Displace effect to simulate a wavy ocean surface.
- “Map Morph Transition”: This tutorial shows how to use the Fractal Noise effect in a very clever way to create a transition between various still images.
- “The UFO Hoax”: Dave uses the built-in After Effects motion tracking system to stabilize shaky footage. This might be better accomplished with mocha-AE now that After Effects comes with this motion-tracking application, but this tutorial does a great job of showing how to use the built-in motion tracking system to stabilize a shot. After stabilizing the shot, he uses a basic motion path and auto-orients a UFO along this path. As a crucial finishing touch, he adds some grain to the movie to make the composite look like it all fits together—as well as to feel like the canonical grainy UFO shot.
- “Fix Tiny Z-Depth Numbers”: This tutorial shows how to use the Depth Of Field effect, even with a 3D file that has been rendered without optimal depth settings.
- “Designing and Compositing a HUD”: This epic five-part tutorial goes through all the details of designing, implementing, and compositing a HUD (heads-up display), including placing targeting crosshairs in a motion-tracked scene, animating text layers, and using expressions. It’s long, but it’s full of techniques and workflow tips that are very valuable for motion graphics and compositing work.
- “Power of the RPF”: In this tutorial, Dave demonstrates how to create RPF files in a 3D application and how to use RPF files in After Effects. The first part explains the RPF format and how to create RPF files in 3ds Max (3D Studio MAX). The second part shows how to use the Object ID and Z depth information in an RPF file within After Effects, using several of the 3D Channel effects: ID Matte, Depth of Field, Depth Matte, and Fog 3D effects.
- “The Classic Star Wars Crawl”: Dave shows not only how to create the perspective text crawl with a text layer in 3D—he completely recreates the title sequence using the CC Sphere effect and Fractal noise to create the planets, moons, and star field behind the text.
- “Puppet Animation in After Effects”: This tutorial demonstrates how to create a looping animation using the Puppet tools and putting a character in a 3D scene with a light to create shadows and depth.
In After Effects CS5, we fixed some bugs regarding ProRes 422 and ProRes 4444 media in After Effects. See the previous paragraph for links to posts that give workarounds for those bugs in After Effects CS4. But we didn’t quite get everything (yet). This post gives workarounds for two issues in After Effects CS5:
- After Effects ignores alpha channel information in ProRes 4444 media.
- In 8-bpc color depth mode, previews of ProRes 422 media look very wrong (blue and pink).
If you have problems other than these two with ProRes media in After Effects CS5 let us know.
After Effects ignores alpha channel information in ProRes 4444 media.
UPDATE: This bug is fixed in After Effects CS5.5.
On Mac OS:
- Close all Adobe applications.
- Copy the MediaCoreQTCodecRulesCS5.xml file in your Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Common folder to your desktop in case you need to revert any changes made in subsequent steps.
- Open the MediaCoreQTCodecRulesCS5.xml file in your Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Common folder in a text editor.
- Find the
platform='mactel'entries for both directions (encode and decode).
- Change the
deepdecodefourccvalue for each from
'b64a'to match the following example lines:
- Restart After Effects CS5 and see if the alpha channel information is seen and interpreted correctly by After Effects. If it isn’t, let us know by filing a bug report.
On Windows, the fix is similar but the .xml file is located in your user AppDataRoamingAdobeCommon directory and the entries for
platform='windows' need to be modified instead.
In 8-bpc color depth mode, previews of ProRes 422 media look very wrong (blue and pink).
UPDATE: In January 2011, AJA released updated software that appears to fix this issue.
The picture below is an example posted to the After Effects user-to-user forum by someone who had this problem.
This problem appears to be the result of a codec conflict with an AJA codec that is installed for the purpose of sending previews to external video devices.
The first workaround is to set the project’s color depth to 16 or 32 bits per channel (bpc).
The second workaround is to turn off the preview to the external video device. I.e., choose Computer Monitor Only from the Output Device menu in the Video Preview preferences.
The third workaround is to just remove the offending AJA codec. See the forum thread for more information about that, and what problems that causes for Final Cut Studio.
AJA is aware of this issue.
Robert Powers provides a series of video tutorials on the Slippery Rock NYC website. He focuses on character animation using Flash, After Effects, and Photoshop.
I appreciate Robert’s tutorials very much because they go into a lot of detail about techniques and concepts that will come up time and time again. This is in contrast to so many tutorials that I see that are too shallow to be useful or too bogged down in details that aren’t generally useful—often both at the same time.
Keep up the good work, Robert!
- “After Effects and Flash similarities” shows basics of using After Effects from the perspective of someone who is familiar with Flash Professional. This is a good supplement to this page.
- “Creating a character in Photoshop” is a detailed walk-through of a document in Photoshop in preparation for rigged and articulated character animation. This is a good supplement to this page.
- “Using time remapping for lip synch” shows how to use time-remapping with a small number of still mouth images to animate a character along with a soundtrack.
- “Using parenting and Puppet tools” shows how to use parenting and the Puppet tools together and separately to animate a character.
- “2D to 3D photo conversion using a displacement map” shows how to create and use a depth matte and use it as a control layer for the Displacement Map effect. The result is then used by the 3D Glasses effect to create a stereoscopic image.
(Thanks to Lester Banks, without whose blog I may have missed these.)
[UPDATE: The Premiere Pro CS5 (5.0.2) update installs the new RED importer plug-in, so you don't need to install it from the Labs website.]
Adobe just released a new RED importer plug-in for After Effects CS5 and Premiere Pro CS5 on the Adobe Labs website. This new set of software supports the current RED firmware (#30) and new color science.
At the bottom of this post is a set of instructions for a way for you to fix a problem with color space interpretation for all RED files.
What’s changed with the new RED importer software?
RED has been making a lot of changes in the past several months, including introducing their new Mysterium-X sensor and a new “color science” that includes something that the RED folks are calling FLUT. You can read what Jim Jannard and Graeme Nattress have to say about FLUT and the new color science on the RED User forum, on threads such as this one and this one. You can find more information and download the new firmware on the RED website.
My oversimplification of the gist of FLUT is that it’s a control for manipulating brightness in the midtones while not clipping highlights (though they’ll be rolled off and therefore may get crushed). FLUT is manipulated in terms of stops, so an increase of 1 is equivalent to a doubling of ISO number.
If you’re just working within After Effects, we still recommend that you do your manipulation of exposure and related characteristics within After Effects in a 32-bpc project, so you don’t lose any detail in your highlights. The RED R3D Source Settings color adjustments don’t currently preserve overbright values (values above 1.0, where 1.0 is pure white). Color adjustments done within After Effects, on the other hand, can and do preserve brighter-than-white colors when you work in 32bpc (bits per channel) color.
But, if you must manipulate color settings in the RED source settings, the new FLUT control makes it so that you lose less highlight detail than you did with the previous version.
new and changed features:
- Added new Color Version menu with Version 1 and Version 2 options, so you can choose whether to interpret your RED footage using the old color science or the new color science. (Note: Mysterium-X requires Version 2.)
- Added new FLUT slider.
- Added new Shadow slider.
- Added new option to Color Space menu, REDColor.
- Added new option to Gamma Curve menu, REDGamma.
- Kelvin slider now only goes to 10,000 instead of 100,000 (which was not a useful range). You can still directly enter larger numbers.
- Added options (2500, 3200, 4000, 5000, and 6400) to ISO menu.
- Names for saved presets are limited to not contain certain characters (such as / : * ? ” | ). If you attempt to save a preset with a name including one of these characters, a dialog box will appear that tells you to not do that.
- Minimum color version and camera firmware number now appear under Properties in Premiere Pro.
(Note: The FLUT, Shadow, REDColor, and REDGamma controls and options are only for color version 2.)
- Importing Premiere Pro CS4 projects with RED clips resulted in clips having yellow-green coloring.
- User Curve Setting is now saved in RED R3D Source Settings dialog box. In the previous version, it was being set back to As Shot.
- The RED importer can now work with Unicode characters in paths. In the previous version, the importer failed when attempting to read from paths containing some characters.
how to change your interpretation rules so that RED footage works with color management
If you’re using color management, you should interpret RED files as HDTV (Rec. 709). We actually added an interpretation rule in After Effects CS5 to do this automatically, but we made a mistake. It’s a very easy mistake for you to fix in your interpretation rules file, though.
See the bottom of this page for instructions on where to find the interpretation rules file and how to edit it.
The problem is that the rule that was supposed to make the correct input color profile get assigned automatically was put at the bottom of the file, whereas it should have been put higher up in the file.
Look for this rule, which should be at the very end of your interpretation rules file:
# rule to make red raw files available as Rec709
# with Gamma encoded 32bit float data
*, *, *, "R3D ", * ~ *, *, *, *, "r7hf", 0
Cut that rule and paste it above this passage in the file (which is roughly in the middle):
# this soft rule should be the last in the list of soft rules
# soft rule: tag all untagged footage with an sRGB profile
*, *, *, *, * ~ *, *, *, *, "sRGB", *
After you’ve done that and saved the file, restart After Effects. Now, when you import a RED R3D file and you have color management turned on, the colors will be interpreted correctly, using the HDTV (Rec. 709) color profile.
I recently read The Green Screen Handbook: Real World Production Techniques by Jeff Foster.
The first part of the book has a lot of interesting (though not necessarily practical) history and trivia about compositing in general, and color keying specifically. But the real meat of the book is after that.
Jeff doesn’t just show you how to use After Effects and other software packages to do real-world green screen work (though he does do that). He also shows how to do all of the crucial things that you must do before you even turn on your post-production software—or even turn on your camera.
The good folks at Sybex/Wiley, who publish the book, have made a couple of chapters freely available on their website so that you can check the book out. These two chapters are certainly worth a read.
In Chapter 4, “Basic Compositing Techniques”, Jeff explains the basics of mattes, color keying, and rotoscoping, and he introduces Keylight, which is a core tool for color keying work in After Effects.
In Chapter 16, “Fixing Problem Green Screen Shots”, Jeff shows how to deal with poor lighting, color spill, reflections, and other banes of color keying work. He shows how to use garbage mattes, hold-out mattes, and a variety of other tools and techniques.
If you’re importing DPX files into After Effects, and the colors aren’t right, check out the fix in this new document that we just published on the Adobe Technical Support site:
“Colors from DPX file not correct in After Effects CS5 (Mac OS)”
The problem comes from Glue Tools installing a component into QuickTime that causes QuickTime attempt to handle the files, rather than the native After Effects DPX importer.
If this fix doesn’t work for you, or if you just want to read more details, then go to this thread in the After Effects user-to-user forum, where this problem was diagnosed:
“DPX import in CS5″.
Bob Currier of Synthetic Aperture, the makers of Color Finesse, just posted a very useful comment on the “Resources for Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse” page of After Effects CS5 Help.
I’ll go ahead and reproduce the whole thing here, for convenience.
(BTW, in case you didn’t know, Color Finesse is a color correction plug-in that comes with After Effects.)
from Bob Currier
Three issues have been identified in Color Finesse 3 LE as installed with After Effects CS5. There are articles discussing these issues in detail on the Synthetic Aperture website. The issues and articles are:
Pink lines are visible on rendered frames, even though a serial number has been entered. This can happen if the wrong Color Finesse serial number has been used. For example, a Color Finesse 2 serial number has been used to install Color Finesse 3. The solution is to force Color Finesse to allow entering the correct serial without a full re-install of CS5.
“Reserializing Color Finesse 3 LE as Installed by After Effects CS5″
The System Preset folder is empty on Windows.
“Reference Gallery System Preset Folder Empty in Color Finesse 3 LE on Windows”
The black-and-white filmstock presets aren’t black and white when rendered.
“B&W Film Presets not Black-and-White in Color Finesse 3 LE”