October, 2010 Archives
Sometimes, a tutorial doesn’t primarily teach what the title says it’s teaching.
For example, Andrew Devis recently released a pair of video tutorials that seem from the titles to be primarily about synchronizing animation to audio:
- Using audio to control effects – part 1: the workmanlike approach
- Using audio to control effects – part 2: the more elegant approach
Yes, these video tutorials show quite well how to use the Convert Audio To Keyframes command and then link the result to animation of various properties. But the real strength of these tutorials isn’t in the audio part of that instruction; it’s in the linking part.
Andrew shows very clearly and methodically how to use expressions (specifically the
linear expression method), the expression pick whip, null object layers, expression control effects… all of which are immensely powerful and crucial features. Unfortunately, these same features are usually very intimidating for new users.
In other words, I think that Andrew may be selling himself short by saying that these are tutorials about something as easy to do as converting audio to keyframes. In fact, they are great resources for teaching some of the most important and universally useful features to help someone to move from the basics into doing seriously complex and advanced work in After Effects.
As my colleague Kevin Monahan recently pointed out, Andrew has been creating a lot of tutorials lately. They’ve nearly all stood out from the vast crowd of tutorials by actually teaching people how to use After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Soundbooth—unlike many tutorials that just show how to create a specific look or result without imparting much actual knowledge.
Great work, Andrew!
For more information on expressions, see these sections of After Effects Help:
Last year, Chris Zwar created what I think is one of the best pieces ever on using After Effects.
Now, he’s back with another series of videos on the ProVideo Coalition website, this time introducing (or re-introducing) many features that are buried within After Effects—the sorts of things that you’d probably use and love if you only knew that they were there.
Here’s a breakdown of the episodes and what each shows (with a little bit of nitpicking from me here and there):
- guide layers
- rulers, guides, and snapping
- Preserve Underlying Transparency
- Silhouette and Stencil blending modes (which Chris calls ‘transfer modes’, using terminology that shows that he’s an After Effects old-timer)
- using the Scale dialog box to specify units for scaling
- negative scaling and flipping
- showing specific properties in the Timeline panel
- RotoBezier vertices for paths
- shortcuts for modifying rounded rectangles
- converting text to shapes or masks
- setting the first vertex for a path
- mask modes (and working around a confusing aspect of Subtract mode)
- paint tools, including Brush and Clone Stamp tools (Really? These are hidden? That’s unfortunate.)
- accent grave (`) key to maximize the panel group under the mouse pointer (Chris says that it maximizes the active panel. But he makes up for this by not perpetuating the mistake that people make in saying that it’s the tilde (~) key—which is the shifted character on that key.)
- docking multiple Timeline panels next to one another
- locking viewers and using multiple viewers
- custom views
- Local and World axis modes
- context menus
- changing color display format
- using region of interest for cropping
- using Motion Sketch for more than motion paths
- gradient fills for shape layers
- Shift+RAM preview options
- formatting multiple text layers
- optical kerning
- paragraph text
- resetting formatting in the Character panel
- animation presets (including saving masks as animation presets)
- template projects
- render settings templates
- ouptut module templates, multiple output modules, naming and cropping with output modules
I’ll end by sharing a related “hidden” item of my own: There are a bunch of additional animation presets here on the Adobe Exchange that most people don’t even know about.
Hey, it looks like one of my coworkers (Kevin) and I think alike. He just posted his brief review of this series.
[See the related post about After Effects.]
The Premiere Pro team is using Twitter and Facebook to give and receive information about Premiere Pro.
The team Premiere Pro Twitter account goes by the name adobepremiere. Follow us.
Our Adobe Premiere Pro Facebook page has been active for a while now. Become a fan. Or friend. Or like us. Or whatever that’s called.
These are both team accounts, so you’ll be seeing things from me, from the product manager (Al Mooney), from the software engineers, from the quality engineers…
We still use our blogs as a way to communicate things that we don’t want evaporating into the ether, the way that things on Facebook and Twitter seem to do so quickly. But the Twitter and Facebook channels are great ways to keep up with a (somewhat) steady stream of news and views.
We also really appreciate feature requests and bug reports.
If you have technical questions or need some help, the best way to ask is through the Premiere Pro forum. Several video editing professionals help people on that forum. The Premiere Pro team monitors that forum, too, so we can help you to get an answer there. When asking such a question, please supply information about the version number of your software, some details about your computer, et cetera.
In After Effects CS5, we added the Apply Color LUT effect, which adds the ability to use color lookup tables (LUTs) for color correction and color management.
(And we fixed a lot of bugs in this effect in the After Effects CS5 (10.0.1) update, which you really, really should install.)
Do you use color lookup tables, either within After Effects or in other software? If so, we’d like to get some information—and, importantly, some sample files—from you. We want to get as many real-world LUTs as we can so that we can see what people are actually using and make sure that our continued work in this area supports the right things.
If you’d like to help us to improve our support for color lookup tables, please send an email message with the subject line ‘color LUT sample included’ to aebugs -at- adobe -dot- com. What we’d really like to get in such a message is the lookup table file itself, an image file showing an image before the LUT is applied, and an image file showing the result. In other words, we want a LUT and the before and after information. We’re interested in LUT files of any and all formats that you’re using (e.g., .lut, .3dl, .look, .cube). We’d also like to know how you’re generating your lookup tables, what applications you’re using them in, how many lookup tables you tend to use in a given workflow—and anything else that you want to tell us.
As I said, we would like to get this feedback by email. Don’t respond in comments to this blog post, since only one person (me) sees those comments.
John Dickinson recently posted an excellent two-part video tutorial (part 1, part 2) on his Motionworks website that shows about a dozen ways to animate without using conventional keyframing. He refers to these techniques as “automatic” animation, because many of the techniques that he shows require much less manual work than the usual means of setting keyframes.
Here’s a synopsis of what this two-part video tutorial covers, with some links that you can follow for more information about the features mentioned:
- Auto-keyframe mode: John shows how this feature works and gives his opinion about it. We’d like to know your opinion, too; please let us know what you think on this thread.
- keyboard shortcuts for setting keyframes: The keyboard shortcuts for setting (and removing) keyframes are very useful. There are some more handy keyboard shortcuts for working with keyframes here.
- Motion Sketch: Motion Sketch is a feature that John has talked about before, and I certainly agree with him about its broad usefulness. One thing that many people miss is the fact that there’s a version of Motion Sketch built into the Puppet tools, too.
- Convert Audio To Keyframes: This feature makes timing any sort of animation to music so much easier. This feature is a rich source of experimentation, and many people have created utilities and tutorials related to it, as you can see on this page. Converting audio levels to keyframes is especially powerful when you know how to use the expression pick whip to tie the changes in one property to any other property.
- The Wiggler and the
wiggleexpression method: John rightly points out that there’s not much reason to use the Wiggler panel now that the
wiggleexpression method is available, especially when there are so many examples available using the
wiggleexpression method that you can just copy and paste.
- Convert expression to keyframes: If you need keyframes, but your animation is based on an expression (such as one using
wiggle), you can convert the property’s expression-based values to keyframes.
- path from Illustrator to a motion path: The ability to bring a path in from Illustrator or other applications and convert it to a motion path means that you can draw your animations using the tools most suited for drawing. You also make a motion path from a mask, shape, or paint path, so animation can follow various graphical elements in a composition.
- Wiggle Paths and Wiggle Transform: The Wiggle Paths and Wiggle Transform shape layer path operations cause a shape layer’s path to change over time in dynamic, random ways. John’s example is especially interesting, because it uses a shape layer to create a lighting result that is not what one typically thinks of when thinking of vector graphics and shape layers. (Nice work, John!)
- Wiggly selector for text animation: The Wiggly selector randomizes text animations within specified parameters.
- self-animating effects: Many effects can be animated without any (or many) keyframes, including several in the Noise & Grain and Simulation categories. I appreciate the fact that John called special attention to the Foam effect; this often-overlooked effect is actually a very powerful particle system and is not just for bubbles.
Thanks a lot, John, for one of the most instructive and useful videos that I’ve seen about After Effects in a while. You managed to include lots of things for beginners and advanced folks.
Today, the After Effects CS4 (9.0.3) update was released.
Ideally, you should check for and install updates by choosing Help > Updates from within After Effects CS4 (or another CS4 application).
If for some reason you can’t use the automatic updater, you can download the update package (patcher) from the Adobe website.
Important: Users of After Effects CS4 for Windows who are manually downloading and installing the patcher must choose the correct patcher based on the original installation scenario: If you installed After Effects CS4 as a standalone product or from a Creative Suite 4 (CS4) package, then use AfterEffects-9.0.3-mul-AdobeUpdate.zip. If you installed After Effects CS4 as part of a Creative Suite 5 (CS5) Production Premium or CS5 Master Collection package, then use AfterEffects-9.0.3-mul-AdobeUpdate-FromCS5Suite.zip. Users of After Effects CS4 for Mac OSX should all use AfterEffects-9.0.3-mul-AdobeUpdate.dmg.
By the way, in case you didn’t already know: Adobe provides After Effects CS4 and Premiere Pro CS4 in the CS5 Master Collection and CS5 Production Premium packages for Windows, so that users with 32-bit operating systems will have versions of After Effects and Premiere Pro that will work on their computers. After Effects CS5 and Premiere Pro CS5 are 64-bit applications and therefore won’t run on 32-bit operating systems. See “32-bit vs. 64-bit support in Creative Suite 5″.
If you have any problems with this update, or if you have bugs to report after applying the update, let us know by sending feedback or coming to the After Effects forum. Don’t ask questions in the comments on this blog post, which fewer people will see.
- A “locking existing frames” message appeared and remained for a long time before a RAM preview would begin.
- A conflict between Wacom drivers and After Effects severely decreased performance. Wacom has updated their drivers, and the After Effects CS4 (9.0.3) update should fix the issue on the After Effects side.
- Background rendering processes were not being correctly shut down when aerender quit.
- A crash caused by dragging and dropping on Mac OSX v10.5.x has been fixed.
- A memory problem that caused assorted crashes has been fixed.
Note that we were able to find and fix a lot of these problems because of the great feedback that we got when we asked people to use the crash reporter. Please keep doing so. And don’t hesitate to file bugs and send feature requests.
The After Effects CS4 (9.0.3) update is cumulative with the After Effects CS4 (9.0.2) update, meaning that all of the fixes in the 9.0.2 update will also be applied by the 9.0.3 update.
Of course, these fixes are also incorporated into After Effects CS5. By the way, if you are also using After Effects CS5, be sure to install the After Effects CS5 (10.0.1) update.
other software updates known to address crashing problems with After Effects
If you use the Optical Flares plug-in, be sure to update it to the most recent version.
If you use After Effects on Mac OSX v10.6.4, be sure to apply the graphics update from Apple.
If you use an ATI graphics card, note that the ATI Catalyst 10.9 driver update fixes an OpenGL crash in After Effects. Update your drivers.
We have also been working with several providers of plug-ins, codecs, and hardware devices (such as Cineform and BlackMagic) to assist them in updating their software to fix some errors and crashes. Please take this opportunity to download and install updated codecs, plug-ins, and drivers from these providers, as relevant to your work.
Windows 7 users should turn off “Make text and other items larger or smaller”.
See the After Effects 9.0.3 release notes for other known issues.
[Please, do not give feedback in the comments on this blog post. Give feedback on this forum thread.]
A lot of folks ask what the recommended memory and multiprocessing settings are for optimum performance. Because projects, compositions, footage items, and computer hardware setups vary greatly, there’s no one best set of numbers that we can give.
However, our quality engineers (testers) have been doing a lot of performance tests lately, and they’ve come a step closer by providing a set of memory settings that should give a better starting point than our current default settings.
Our default settings in After Effects CS5 were created with the goal of providing long RAM previews and holding a lot of information in the foreground application’s RAM cache to prevent frames from being re-rendered unnecessarily. Unfortunately, this skew toward leaving memory for the foreground application took memory away from the background rendering processes. Also, our default settings for the minimum allocation per background rendering process were a bit on the low side for the sorts of compositions and footage that people are working with these days.
We’re now recommending much higher settings for the RAM To Leave For Other Applications and Minimum Allocation Per CPU preferences. If you start with these numbers both quite high, you will avoid the problems of swapping memory to the hard disk (which is a real performance killer) and starving the background rendering processes such that they shut down and don’t do anything.
You may find that you’re not using all of your CPUs for Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously in a machine with a lot of processor cores, but that’s fine; the goal is to make things go fast, not necessarily to use all of your CPUs. Also, keep in mind that After Effects is a multithreaded application, so even when you only have one rendering process, that process can spawn threads on other CPUs to help with rendering. In other words, you will still be using parts of other CPUs, even if they don’t have their very own rendering process. In fact, if you try to force After Effects to use all CPUs for background processes, you can end up overscheduling your processors and damaging performance.
Please start with the settings suggested below and run tests of your own, on real projects. Then, try moving the values up and down and doing additional tests. Let us know on this forum thread what settings work best for you and what kind of footage, compositions, and hardware setup you’re using. This sort of feedback can really help us to make smarter, more realistic settings for the next version of After Effects.
|installed RAM / GB||RAM To Leave For Other Applications / GB||Minimum Allocation Per CPU / GB|
After Effects and Premiere Pro CS4 users: Turn off “Make text and other items larger or smaller” in Windows 7
After Effects and Premiere Pro CS4 users should turn off the “Make text and other items larger or smaller” setting in Windows 7.
This setting attempts to scale some aspects of a user interface to make it easier to read, but it causes screen drawing issues (such as corruption of mouse pointers and unresponsive buttons) in After Effects CS4 and Premiere Pro CS4. If your mouse pointer looks just plain wrong, this might be the problem. This setting is the default for some newer laptop computers, for which the pixel dimensions are very high on relatively small screens.
After Effects CS5 and Premiere Pro CS5 don’t seem to have the problem.
Instructions for turning this setting off are on the Microsoft website.
Please let us know on this forum thread how this solution works for you.
As always, don’t hesitate to send bug reports and bring questions to the forum.