Adobe After Effects CS6 manual

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Adobe After Effects CS6 product information

  • Brand: Adobe
  • Product: Photo/video software
  • Model/name: After Effects CS6
  • Filetype: PDF
  • Available languages: English, French

Table of Contents

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ADOBE®
AFTER EFFECTS®
Help and tutorials
February 2013
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Contents
What's New 1
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What's new in CS6 2
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What’s new in After Effects CS5.5 7
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What’s new in After Effects CS5 8
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After Effects getting started tutorials 14
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Learn After Effects CS5 and CS5.5 15
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Planning and setup 17
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Setup and installation 21
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Workflows 23
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Workspace and workflow 26
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Setup and installation 27
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Workflows 29
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Planning and setup 32
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Working with After Effects and other applications 36
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Dynamic Link and After Effects 42
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Workspaces, panels, and viewers 45
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General user interface items 50
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Keyboard shortcuts reference 53
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Modify keyboard shortcuts 71
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Preferences 72
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Projects and compositions 75
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Projects 76
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Timecode and time display units 79
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Composition basics 81
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Precomposing, nesting, and pre-rendering 86
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Importing footage 91
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Importing and interpreting video and audio 92
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Working with footage items 97
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Importing from After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro 102
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Importing and interpreting footage items 106
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Preparing and importing 3D image files 117
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Preparing and importing still images 120
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Layers and properties 127
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Creating layers 128
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Selecting and arranging layers 132
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Managing layers 140
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Layer properties 144
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Blending modes and layer styles 152
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3D layers 157
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Cameras, lights, and points of interest 162
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Views and previews 170
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Previewing 171
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Modifying and using views 180
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Animation and Keyframes 184
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Animation basics 185
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Setting, selecting, and deleting keyframes 188
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Editing, moving, and copying keyframes 191
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Assorted animation tools 195
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Keyframe interpolation 201
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Speed 206
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Tracking and stabilizing motion 212
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Tracking 3D Camera Movement (CS6) 224
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Animating with Puppet tools 227
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Time-stretching and time-remapping 233
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Color 240
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Color basics 241
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Color management 249
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Drawing, painting, and paths 257
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Paint tools: Brush, Clone Stamp, and Eraser 258
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Overview of shape layers, paths, and vector graphics 265
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Creating shapes and masks 270
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Managing and animating shape paths and masks 278
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Shape attributes, paint operations, and path operations for shape layers 286
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Text 292
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Creating and editing text layers 293
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Formatting characters and the Character panel 298
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Formatting paragraphs and the Paragraph panel 303
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Animating text 305
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Extruding text and shape layers (CS6) 314
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Examples and resources for text animation 319
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Transparency and compositing 324
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Compositing and transparency overview and resources 325
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Alpha channels, masks, and mattes 327
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Keying 336
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Roto Brush and Refine Matte 339
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Effects and animation presets 344
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Effects and animation presets overview 345
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Effect list 367
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3D Channel effects 375
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Audio effects 380
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Blur & Sharpen effects 383
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Channel effects 389
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The rolling shutter repair effect (CS6) 394
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Color Correction effects 395
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Distort effects 407
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Generate effects 420
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Keying effects 434
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Matte effects 442
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Noise & Grain effects 444
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Obsolete effects 458
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Perspective effects 462
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Simulation effects 466
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Stylize effects 487
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Text effects 496
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Time effects 498
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Transition effects 503
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Utility effects 509
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Markers 513
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Layer markers and composition markers 514
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XMP metadata 518
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Memory, storage, performance 523
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Memory and storage (CS5.5, and earlier) 524
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Improve performance 530
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GPU (CUDA, OpenGL) features in After Effects CS6 533
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Memory and storage (CS6) 535
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Expressions and automation 543
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Plug-ins 544
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Scripts 546
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Automation 548
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Expression basics 549
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Expression language reference 560
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Expression examples 577
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Rendering and Exporting 581
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Basics of rendering and exporting 582
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Rendering and exporting for Flash Professional and Flash Player 595
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Rendering and exporting still images and still-image sequences 601
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Automated rendering and network rendering 603
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Converting movies 609
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Export an After Effects project as an Adobe Premiere Pro project 613
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What's New
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What's new in CS6
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After Effects CS6 overview
Video tutorial: Overview of After Effects CS6
Global performance cache
3D camera tracker
3D enhancements
Ray-traced 3D renderer
Beveled and extruded text and shape layers
Bendable footage and composition layers
Environment layer support
New material options
Fast Previews
Mask Feather tool
Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators
Vector art footage-to-shape conversion
Rolling shutter repair effect
New 32-bit effects
Updated CycoreFX HD plug-ins
Pro Import AE plug-in
ARRIRAW import
MXF OP1a video codec support
Improved Adobe Dynamic Link
Aerender and watch folder in non-royalty bearing mode
Scripting changes
Miscellaneous changes
After Effects CS6 overview
Resources:
Video tutorial series: After Effects CS6: New features workshop
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Overview of new and changed features in After Effects CS6
Blog: What's new and changed in After Effects CS6
Global performance cache
Cached frames are restored in many scenarios for a faster workflow
Disk cache is retained even after you close and reopen a project
Disk cache is filled in the background while you continue to work
Resources:
Global performance cache (CS6)
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Global performance cache, and persistent disk cache
Video tutorial: Learn by Video: RAM and Disk Caching
Blog: GPU (CUDA, OpenGL) features in After Effects CS6
3D camera tracker
The 3D Camera Tracker analyzes video sequences to extract camera motion and 3D scene data. This feature allows you to incorporate 3D
objects into a 2D scene effectively.
Resources:
Tracking 3D camera movement (CS6)
Video tutorial: New features workshop, 3D camera tracker
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Video tutorial: Learn by Video, 3D camera tracker
3D enhancements
Ray-traced 3D renderer
A new Ray-traced 3D renderer allows for enhanced 3D capability. You can render compositions in a separate environment from the existing
Advanced 3D composition renderer (now called Classic 3D). Many of the existing capabilities of the Classic 3D renderer are available in the new
Ray-traced 3D renderer. Examples include soft shadows, motion blur, and depth-of-field blur. Options include beveled and extruded text and
shape layers, bending of footage and composition layers, environment map support and additional material options.
Resources:
Extruding text and shape layers (CS6)
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Using the ray-traced 3D renderer
Beveled and extruded text and shape layers
3D text and shape layers can take on a bevel or extrusion (or both). Properties such as bevel style, bevel depth, bevel hole depth, and extrusion
depth determine the look.
Resources:
Extruding text and shape layers (CS6)
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Extruding 3D text and shapes and modifying geometry options
Video tutorial: Learn by Video: Extruding Shapes
Bendable footage and composition layers
In the ray-traced renderer, you can curve 3D footage and nested compositions around a vertical axis using controls in Geometry Options:
Curvature: The amount of bend (as a percentage)
Segments: The smoothness the bend
Resources:
Bending a footage layer
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Bending 2D layers
Video tutorial: Learn by Video: Bending Layers
Environment layer support
Use 3D footage or nested compositions as a spherically mapped environment around the scene, visible on reflective objects.
Resources:
Environment layer
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Environment layers
Video tutorial: Learn by Video: Material Options (Environment Layers)
New material options
3D layers in the ray-traced renderer include additional materials properties, which affect how 3D objects interact with light. For example, you can
use reflection, transparency, index of refraction as materials properties.
Resources:
New material options
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Material options
Video tutorial: Learn by Video: Material Options (Environment Layers)
Fast Previews
Fast Previews supports options for working with different levels of quality when previewing. This menu button has been reordered from highest
quality and slower performance to lowest quality and faster performance. Some options have been renamed, and keyboard shortcuts have been
assigned to them.
Resources:
Fast Previews (CS6)
Video: tutorial: New features workshop: Fast Previews
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Mask Feather tool
Mask Feather is a new tool for controlling feathering along defined points of a mask. Previously, the width of the feather was the same around
the entire closed mask. The Mask Feather tool is available from the Pen tool.
Press G to toggle between the Pen tool and the Mask Feather tool. To toggle between all tools under the Pen tool by pressing G, see Edit >
Preferences > General (Windows), or After Effects > Preferences > General (Mac OS).
Resources:
Variable-width mask feathering (CS6)
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Variable-width mask feathering
Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators
Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators include features to support the new 3D features. They support beveled, extruded, or curved layers,
in addition to standard "flat" layers. You can scale and rotate a 3D layer by manipulating the bounding box from any side. Snapping the anchor
point to different parts of a side of a bounding box is also available.
Resources:
Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators
Video tutorial: reTooled.net: Bounding boxes
Vector art footage-to-shape conversion
Vector art footage-to-shape conversion creates shape layers from any vector art footage layer. You can even modify vector-based Illustrator, EPS,
and PDF files after you import them into After Effects CS6. Furthermore, with the new 3D extrusion support, you can extrude artwork. For example,
you can extrude and stylize logos in After Effects CS6.
Resources:
Vector art footage-to-shape conversion
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Converting imported vector graphics from Illustrator to shape layers
Rolling shutter repair effect
Rolling shutter distortion occurs mainly in digital cameras with CMOS sensors. This distortion usually occurs when the subject or the camera
moves. The Rolling Shutter Repair effect fixes footage containing rolling shutter distortion. The Warp Stabilizer effect also has rolling shutter repair
function. However, the Rolling Shutter Repair effect has more controls and is useful when the footage does not need stabilizing.
Resources:
Rolling Shutter Repair effect
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Rolling shutter repair effect
New 32-bit effects
The following effects are available with 32-bpc color in After Effects CS6:
Drop Shadow
Fill
Iris Wipe
Linear Wipe
Photo Filter
Radial Wipe
Set Matte
Spill Suppressor
Timewarp
Resources:
Effects and animation presets overview
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Updated CycoreFX HD plug-ins
The CycoreFX HD set is now bundled with After Effects, offering 16-bit and floating point support, and 12 additional effects.
Resources:
Third-party plug-ins included with After Effects
Video tutorial: New features workshop: New Cycore effects and improved color bit depth
Pro Import AE plug-in
The Pro Import AE plug-in (formerly Automatic Duck Pro AE) is now bundled with After Effects CS6. Use Pro Import AE to do the following:
Import AAF and OMF files from an Avid system
Import XML files from Final Cut Pro 7 (or earlier)
Import project files from Motion 4 (or earlier)
Resources:
Supported import formats
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Using Pro Import After Effects for projects from other applications
ARRIRAW import
After Effects CS6 now supports files from the ARRI ALEXA, or ARRIFLEX D-21 cameras, called ARRIRAW.
Resources:
File formats supported for import
MXF OP1a video codec support
There is export support for additional video codecs in an MXF OP1a wrapper:
AVC-Intra Class 50 720
AVC-Intra Class 50 1080
AVC-Intra Class 100 720
AVC-Intra Class 100 1080
XDCAM EX 35 NTSC 1080 (4:2:0)
XDCAM EX 35 PAL 1080 (4:2:0)
Resources:
Supported export formats
Improved Adobe Dynamic Link
Improved Dynamic Link, including performance enhancements, and removal of the limitation of Dynamic Link to only work within a suite (for
example, Dynamic Link now works between CS6 applications purchased as individual products).
Resources:
About Dynamic Link
Aerender and watch folder in non-royalty bearing mode
After Effects CS5.5 had to be serialized on render-only machines (for example, in a render farm) due to licensing issues. In CS6, you can now run
aerender or use Watch Folder in a non-royalty bearing mode, with serialization not required.
Resources:
Network rendering with watch folders and render engines
Scripting changes
Numerous scripting changes have been made, and are compiled on the After Effects Region of Interest blog.
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Legal Notices | Online Privacy Policy
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Resources:
Scripts
Blog: Scripting changes in After Effects CS6, plus new scripting guide
Miscellaneous changes
Miscellaneous changes in After Effects CS6 are described in Help documentation, and are compiled on the After Effects Region of Interest blog.
Resources:
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Miscellaneous New and Changed Features
Video tutorial: New features workshop: Removed Features, with Suggestions for New Workflows
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What’s new in After Effects CS5.5
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Top new features in After Effects CS5.5
For a complete list of what’s new and changed in Adobe After Effects CS5.5, see this post on the After Effects Region of Interest blog.
See this series on the video2brain website for video training about every new and changed feature in After Effects CS5.5.
Chris & Trish Meyer provide free video tutorials about new features in After Effects CS5.5. For the tutorials, see this Adobe TV video series.
New and changed features in After Effects CS4, CS5, and CS5.5, collected by Chris and Trish Meyer on the ProVideo Coalition website.
Top new features in After Effects CS5.5
Warp Stabilizer effect: Stabilize footage with Warp Stabilizer.
Camera Lens Blur effect: Camera Lens Blur effect (CS5.5).
Source timecode: Source timecode (CS5.5).
Stereoscopic 3D improvements: Stereo 3D Rig (CS5.5).
Light falloff: Light settings.
Saving a project backward (as an After Effects CS5 project): Save and back up projects.
Plus many more.
Legal Notices | Online Privacy Policy
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What’s new in After Effects CS5
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Online resources about new and changed features in After Effects CS5
Top new features in After Effects CS5
Other new and changed features in After Effects CS5
Online resources about new and changed features in After Effects CS5
New and changed features in After Effects CS4, CS5, and CS5.5, collected by Chris and Trish Meyer on the ProVideo Coalition website.
For information on an update to the importer software for RED (R3D) files (for the RED camera Mysterium-X sensor and new color science), see
this post on the After Effects Region of Interest blog.
In After Effects CS5, bugs were fixed for the Apple ProRes 422 and ProRes 4444 codecs. However, there were still a couple of issues. See this
post on the After Effects Region of Interest for workarounds for two issues in After Effects CS5.
See this post on the After Effects Region of Interest blog for details about the After Effects CS5 (10.0.1) update:
Several fixes and improvements for RED (R3D) import and workflow.
The Apply Color LUT effect can now use .3dl files with floating point values or 3DMESH/Mesh keywords, or those saved from an
ASSIMILATE SCRATCH system (i.e. that have SCRATCH in the comments at the top of the file).
QuickTime (.mov) files from JVC solid-state cameras can be imported.
The Vector Paint effects was removed for After Effects CS5. See these posts on the After Effects user-to-user forum for a discussion of
alternatives and feedback. This post on the After Effects Region of Interest blog has more information about giving feedback in general.
See this post on the Premiere Pro Work Area blog for information about what’s new and changed in Adobe Media Encoder CS5.
For details of new and changed features in After Effects CS4, see the After Effects CS4 Help document.
Top new features in After Effects CS5
64-bit After Effects CS5 application, with improved performance and memory features: Memory, storage, and performance
Roto Brush tool: Roto Brush and Refine Matte
Refine Matte effect: Roto Brush and Refine Matte
AVC-Intra import and improved RED (R3D) support: Supported import formats
Imagineer mocha shape for After Effects plug-in and improved mocha for After Effects planar tracker application: Resources for Imagineer
mocha shape for After Effects and Resources for mocha for After Effects (mocha-AE)
Auto-keyframe mode: Auto-keyframe mode
Apply Color LUT effect for using color lookup tables: Apply Color LUT effect
Align panel improvements, including ability to align layers to the edges and center of a composition: Align or distribute layers in 2D space
Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse 3, with support for 32-bpc color: Resources for Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse
Digieffects FreeForm: Resources for Digieffects FreeForm
Other new and changed features in After Effects CS5
Added Help > Send Feedback command, which opens a web browser to the feature-request and bug-report form on the Adobe website.
Projects and compositions changes
The default composition settings are now for a 30-second 1920x1080 HDTV composition: Composition settings
In previous versions, if you were entering or editing text when it was time for an auto-save, you would be forced out of text-editing mode.
Now, if you're in text-editing mode when it's time for an auto-save, that auto-save is skipped: Save and back up projects in After Effects CS5
The Frame Rate control in the Composition Settings dialog box now includes a menu that allows you to select from a list of common frame
rates: Change frame rate for a composition
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The composition background color setting is now located in the Composition Settings dialog box instead of on the Composition menu, and
the keyboard shortcut for accessing only the composition background color has been removed: Composition settings
When you double-click a precomposition layer when the Roto Brush tool or a paint tool is active, the precomposition layer opens in a Layer
panel. To open the nested composition in a Composition panel instead, Alt-double-click (Windows) or Option-double-click (Mac OS) the
precomposition layer: Opening and navigating nested compositions
Importing and managing footage items changes
Added interpretation rules and gamma rules for ProRes media: Interpret footage items
Added .mxr and .sxr as filename extensions recognized as OpenEXR files for import: Supported import formats
Added interpretation rule for RED (R3D) raw color data that interprets colors as HDTV (Rec. 709) gamma-encoded (non-linear-light) 32-bpc
color: Interpret footage items
Improvements in import of Illustrator files with multiple artboards created from Video & Film presets: Preparing and importing Illustrator files
After Effects can import multi-channel DPX files, such as those from a Northlight film scanner: Cineon and DPX footage items
Removed ability to open or import After Effects projects created by versions of After Effects 5.5 or earlier. After Effects CS5 can open and
import projects created by After Effects 6.0 and later: Import an After Effects project
Removed ability to open projects using project links in movies rendered and exported from After Effects CS3 or earlier. After Effects CS5 can
open projects using project links included in movies rendered and exported by After Effects CS4 and later: Import an After Effects project
Removed ability to import AAF, OMF, PCX, Pixar, and Filmstrip files: Supported import formats
Removed ability to import Premiere 6.5 projects. After Effects CS5 can import Premiere Pro projects: Import an Adobe Premiere Pro project
Removed ability to import and export FLV files with video encoded using the Sorenson Spark codec. After Effects CS5 can import and export
FLV files encoded with the On2 VP6 codec: Render and export a composition as an FLV or F4V file
When you drag a completed output module to a folder in the Project panel, you import the output file or files into that folder: Output modules
and output module settings
Double-click a footage item in the Project panel to open it in a Footage viewer. Alt-double-click (Windows) or Option-double-click (Mac OS) a
footage item in the Project panel to open the source file in the media player assigned for that file type by the operating system. Press Enter
on the numeric keypad to open selected footage items in a Footage viewer. The behavior in previous versions was less predictable and more
complex, and was limited to specific media players: View footage item in the Footage panel or media player assigned by operating system
Layers and properties changes
Added Divide and Subtract blending modes: Blending mode reference
The Label Colors and Label Defaults preferences categories have been combined into one Labels preference category. Null Object and Text
items have been added to the Label Defaults section, and a new label color control (Dark Green) has been added in the 16th position. Panel
tabs include a square label that is the same color as the composition, footage item, or layer’s label if the Use Label Color For Related Tabs
preference is selected in the Appearance preference category: Color labels for layers, compositions, and footage items
The Camera Settings dialog box includes a new Type option, which specifies if the camera is a one-node or two-node camera: Camera
settings
Shift-dragging with the Unified Camera tool selected temporarily activates the Orbit Camera tool and constrains rotation to one axis: Move or
adjust a camera or working 3D view with the Camera tools
Dragging with the Unified Camera tool selected and the right mouse button pressed temporarily activates the Track Z Camera tool and
modifies Position only: Move or adjust a camera or working 3D view with the Camera tools
Dragging with the Unified Camera tool selected and the right mouse button pressed and Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) pressed
temporarily activates the Track Z Camera tool and modifies both Position and Point Of Interest: Move or adjust a camera or working 3D view
with the Camera tools
Views and previews changes
In After Effects CS4, the default center cut action-safe margin was 30%, and the default title-safe margin was 35%. In After Effects CS5, the
default center cut action-safe margin is 32.5%, and the default title-safe margin is 40%: About title-safe and action-safe zones
Added Alternate RAM Preview preference, which is used to preview the specified number of frames when you press Alt (Windows) or Option
(Mac OS) while starting a RAM preview: RAM preview a specified number of frames
In Previews preferences, added Viewer Zoom Quality and Color Management Quality controls: Viewer Quality preferences
New Alpha Boundary and Alpha Overlay view modes in the Layer panel, with keyboard shortcuts: Layer panel view options and Views
(keyboard shortcuts)
When you are working with a composition that contains a 3D layer, a light, or a camera, the Composition panel shows a label in the top-left
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corner of each view (such as Top or Right) to indicate which view is associated with which camera perspective. To hide these labels, choose
Show 3D Labels from the Composition panel menu: Choose a 3D view
When you click the Current Time control in the upper-left corner of the Timeline panel, you can now enter a time directly in the box instead of
opening the Go To Time dialog box: Move the current-time indicator (CTI)
When you click the Time Navigator in the Timeline panel, the Info panel shows the times of the beginning and end of the Time Navigator
duration: Zoom in or out in time for a composition
When you click the Work Area bar in the Timeline panel, the Info panel shows the times of the beginning and end of the work area. The
length (duration) of the work area is also shown: Work area
Default audio preview duration (Preferences > Previews) is now 30 seconds: Preview video and audio
The resolution (down-sample factor) of a Layer viewer is now tied to the resolution of the Composition viewer for the composition in which the
layer is contained: Resolution
Removed Wireframe preview.
Animation and keyframes changes
When you place the pointer over a vertex (keyframe) in the Graph Editor, a tooltip now displays the layer name, property name, time, and
value: View or edit a keyframe value
Color changes
In the View > Simulate Output menu, Macintosh RGB and Windows RGB have changed to Legacy Macintosh RGB (Gamma 1.8) and
Internet Standard RGB (sRGB). This change corresponds with a change in gamma from 1.8 to 2.2 for Mac OS version 10.6 and later:
Gamma and tone response
Drawing, painting, and paths changes
Added the Path Point Size preference, which specifies the size of Bezier direction handles and vertices for masks and shapes, direction
handles for motion paths, and some effect control points: General preferences
Selecting vertices, direction handles, and effect control points is easier. Instead of needing to click directly on the point, you can click within a
small area around each point: Select masks, segments, and vertices
Using Create Masks From Text now trims the new layer to match the original: Create shapes or masks from text characters
When you change a mask path color, the new color is used as the default mask path color for new masks: Change mask path color
Text changes
Added ability to orient each text character around its anchor point toward the active camera with Orient Each Character Independently option
in Auto-Orientation dialog box: Per-character 3D text properties
When you select certain properties in the Timeline panel for a text animation, anchors points are now shown in the Composition panel: Text
anchor point properties
Added No Break command in Character panel menu to create nonbreaking spaces: Create a non-breaking space
You can now enable or disable the Path Options for a text layer by clicking the visibility (eyeball) switch for the Path Options property:
Creating and animating text on a path
Double-clicking a Type tool creates a new text layer: Enter point text
Transparency, opacity, and compositing changes
After Effects now premultiplies channels with black when creating FLV files with transparency, which solves problems with fringes and halos
in Flash and Flash Player: Alpha channel interpretation: premultiplied or straight
Effects and animation presets changes
New Color Correction effects based on Photoshop adjustment layer types. When you import PSD files with these adjustments, they are
preserved:
Black & White effect
Selective Color effect
Vibrance effect
The results of changes in the Curves effect are now shown as you drag in the Effect Controls panel, rather than only being shown when you
release the mouse button: Curves effect
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Removed entries in Effects & Presets panel and Effect menu for the Paint effect (and Paint category) and Puppet effect (from Distort
category), because there's no need to apply these effects directly. Use the corresponding tools to apply the effects: Paint tools: Brush, Clone
Stamp, and Eraser and Animating with Puppet tools
The histogram in the Levels effect provides the option to see individual color channels in context with other color channels, as well as
showing color channels as colorized: Levels effect
The Alpha Levels effect has been removed. Instead, use the Levels effect, which can be assigned to work only on an alpha channel, has a
histogram, and is a 32-bpc effect. Old projects that use the Alpha Levels effect will still open, and you will still be able to modify the Alpha
Levels effect properties in these projects: Levels effect
The Vector Paint effect has been removed. Compositions created with a previous version of After Effects that use the Vector Paint effect will
still render, but you will not be able to modify the Vector Paint effect properties in these compositions. Instead, use paint tools and shape
layers: Drawing, painting, and paths
Font preview support (the Show Font option) has been removed from the Basic Text, Path Text, and Numbers effects.
The Show Animation Presets option is now off by default in the panel menu of the Effect Controls panel: Effect Controls panel
The Effects & Presets panel command Reveal In Finder (Mac OS) or Reveal In Windows Explorer (Windows) now works for Pixel Bender
effects: Effects and Presets panel
The Exposure slider in the Exposure effect now has a range from -4 to 4 instead of -20 to 20 to allow for more precise adjustment: Exposure
effect
Changed behavior for copying effects when the Effect Controls panel is active. Even if a property of an effect is selected, the effect itself (not
just the selected properties visible in the Timeline panel) will be copied. Behavior when the Effect Controls panel isn't active is unchanged:
Effect Controls panel
Markers and metadata changes
Added File > Go To Adobe Story menu command: XMP metadata
Include Source XMP Metadata option is off by default in all output module templates: Exporting XMP metadata from After Effects
After Effects writes startTimecode and altTimecode values into XMP metadata. You can view these values in the Start Timecode and
Alternate Timecode fields in the Dynamic Media schema in the Metadata panel: XMP metadata in After Effects
Removed the Clip Notes features.
Memory, storage, and performance changes
Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing can now use the virtual (logical) processor cores created by hyperthreading on many
modern computers: Render multiple frames simultaneously
Simplified Memory & Multiprocessing preferences, improved automatic RAM allocation between foreground and background processes,
added Details dialog box for observation of RAM usage, and improved performance of Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
multiprocessing: Memory & Multiprocessing preferences
After Effects now shares a memory pool with Premiere Pro, Adobe Media Encoder, and Encore: Memory pool shared between After Effects,
Premiere Pro, Encore, and Adobe Media Encoder
The time that After Effects takes to start is reduced. The start-up time for the background processes used in Render Multiple Frames
Simultaneously multiprocessing is also reduced.
Plug-ins, scripts, and automation changes
Esc key interrupts a running script: Loading and running scripts
After Effects CS5 can load and run only 64-bit plug-ins, not 32-bit plug-ins: Plug-ins
Pixel Bender Toolkit 2.0 included, and performance of Pixel Bender effects greatly improved: Plug-ins
Rendering and exporting changes
Removed QuickTime export functionality from File > Export menu. To export a QuickTime movie, use the render queue: Rendering and
exporting overview
Removed ability to export AAF, OMF, PCX, Pixar, Filmstrip, ElectricImage, Softimage PIC, and PICT files: Supported output formats
Pressing spacebar no longer stops the render queue: Pause or stop rendering
Warning for mismatch in frame rate or dimensions between output module settings and other settings, and automatic correction of
mismatches: Warning for mismatch in frame rate or dimensions
Removed options dialog box for SGI output. The dialog box contained an option for using RLE (run-length encoding). This option is now
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always on.
Filename extensions are now enforced on output: Specify filenames and locations for rendered output
Cineon output module renamed to DPX/Cineon, and DPX is now default. To create Cineon files, choose FIDO/Cineon 4.5 in the Cineon
Settings dialog box: Cineon and DPX footage items
Added warning message explaining that custom format settings will be reset to defaults when opening a project created in After Effects CS4
or earlier if the settings can’t be converted. This can happen with some output modules that reference FLV, F4V, H.264 (and variants),
MPEG-2 (and variants), or WMV: Create, manage, and edit output module templates
Added several output module templates for common formats, including F4V, FLV, H.264, and MPEG-2. Renamed some existing output
module templates for increased clarity: Create, manage, and edit output module templates
Removed some color depth options from output module settings that used very few bits per pixel (bpp) from output modules: Black & White
(1-bpp color), 4 Colors (2-bpp color), 16 Colors (4-bpp color), Thousands Of Colors (16-bpp color), and some grayscale options. This doesn’t
affect higher color depths that are expressed in bits per channel (bpc). Remaining are color depth options for 256 Colors (8-bpp color),
Millions Of Colors (8-bpc), Trillions Of Colors (16-bpc), and Floating Point (32-bpc): Output modules and output module settings
Removed overflow volumes feature.
Changed Segment Movie Files At preference to Segment Video-only Movie Files At preference: Segment settings
Removed some fractional audio sample rates and ability to set audio sample rate to an arbitrary, custom value in output module settings. If
you need to save audio with a sample rate other than those offered in After Effects, you can reprocess the audio in Adobe Audition: Output
module settings
Removed Edit > Edit In Adobe Audition command: Edit audio in Adobe Soundbooth
Keyboard shortcuts and miscellaneous user interface changes
To mitigate the problem of some new Apple keyboards lacking a numeric keypad, alternative shortcuts have been added for common
operations that have shortcuts that use the numeric keypad. These changes are for Mac OS only. For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts,
see Keyboard shortcuts.
function shortcut using numeric keypad new shortcut
RAM preview 0 (zero on numeric keypad) Control+0 (zero on main keyboard)
Shift+RAM preview Shift+0 (zero on numeric keypad) Shift+Control+0 (zero on main keyboard)
Preview only audio from the current time . (decimal on the numeric keypad) Control+. (period on main keyboard)
Preview only audio in work area Option+. (decimal on numeric keypad) Control+Option+. (period on main
keyboard)
Preview N frames Option+0 (zero on numeric keypad) Control+Option+0 (zero on main
keyboard)
Add marker at current time (layer marker
if layer selected, composition marker
otherwise)
* (multiply on numeric keypad) Control+8 (on main keyboard)
Add marker at current time (layer marker
if layer selected, composition marker
otherwise) and open marker dialog box
Option+* (multiply on numeric keypad) Option+Control+8 (on main keyboard)
Pressing J or K goes to beginning, end, or base frame of Roto Brush span if viewing Roto Brush in Layer panel: Time navigation (keyboard
shortcuts)
Pressing PP shows Roto Brush strokes as well as paint strokes and Puppet pins: Showing properties and groups in the Timeline panel
(keyboard shortcuts)
New keyboard shortcuts for Look At Selected Layers and Look At All Layers commands: 3D layers (keyboard shortcuts)
New shortcuts to display entire composition duration in the Timeline panel: Zoom in or out in time for a composition
Mouse scroll wheel no longer changes camera position when the Unified Camera tool is active. Rolling the mouse scroll wheel zooms in this
context: Scroll or zoom with the mouse wheel
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Many dialog boxes now have a Preview option that allows you to see the results of changes before you close the dialog box. Dialog boxes
for which the Preview option has been added include Interpret Footage, Composition Settings, Camera Settings, Solid Settings, Light
Settings, 3D Rotation, and all transform property dialog boxes.
In the Project, Render Queue, and Effect Controls panels, you can use the arrow keys to expand or collapse groups.
Several more features now operate on the visible viewer in ETLAT mode, including keyboard shortcuts for toggling grids, toggling guides,
showing channels, working with snapshots, and sending a preview to an external video monitor: Edit this, look at that (ETLAT) and locked
Composition viewers
Changed some user interface strings to make their meaning and function more clear.
In Help menu, changed Community Help And Support to After Effects Support Center: After Effects Support Center on the Adobe website
In Composition panel, changed Show Last Snapshot to Show Snapshot: Snapshots
In Mask Interpolation panel, changed Mask Shape to Mask Path in all items, including changing Add Mask Shape Vertices to Add Mask
Path Vertices: Animate a mask path with Smart Mask Interpolation
In the Output Module Settings dialog box, the Output Module Templates dialog box, and the Output Module section of the Render Queue
panel, Stretch has been renamed to Resize: Output modules and output module settings
In several places relevant to importing Photoshop and Illustrator files as compositions, Composition - Cropped Layers changed to
Composition - Retain Layer Sizes: Import a still-image sequence as a composition
In the SWF Settings dialog box, the Prevent Import checkbox has been renamed to Prevent Editing to clarify its intent: SWF export
settings
Removed Preserve Clipboard Data For Other Applications preference. This option is now always on.
Legal Notices | Online Privacy Policy
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After Effects getting started tutorials
To learn more, view these recommended resources online.
After Effects CS6: what's new and changed
(Apr. 12, 2012)
After Effects CS6 video tutorials
video-tutorial (Aug. 14, 2012)
Video tutorials for After Effects CS6
After Effects CS6: New Features Workshop
video-tutorial (Apr. 12, 2012)
After Effects user-to-user forum
(Apr. 16, 2012)
Getting started with After Effects (CS4, CS5, & CS5.5)
(Jan. 18, 2010)
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Adobe After Effects CS5/CS5.5 tutorials
To the top
To the top
Setup
Overview
Tutorials
To the top
To the top
Essential After Effects tutorials and learning resources for getting started and new features.
New content for CS6
Learn After Effects CS6 video tutorials
Getting started and what's new content
Getting started
Downloading, installing, and setting up
Getting Started: What is After Effects? (video 3:19)
General workflow in After Effects (HTML)
Basic Workflow and Terminology Overview (video 6:31)
Adobe After Effects Frequently Asked Questions: Zip Past Common Hurdles (video 45:00)
Getting Started (GS) tutorials, Learn After Effects CS5 show (video series)
Basic workflow tutorial: Create a simple movie (HTML, 5-10 minutes to complete)
Classroom: Basic Compositing and animation in After Effects
Free sample video tutorials from After Effects CS5: Learn By Video
Getting Started with After Effects (CS4, CS5, and CS5.5)
What's new in CS5 and CS5.5
What’s new and changed in After Effects CS5 (HTML)
What's new and changed in After Effects CS5.5 (video 1:25:00)
Memory (RAM) usage in 64-bit After Effects (video 3:17)
Making a quick matte with Roto Brush (video 7:59)
Refining a matte created with Roto Brush (video 3:20)
Resources for Digieffects FreeForm (HTML)
Resources for Imagineer mocha shape (HTML)
After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques (video series)
Learn more
Planning and managing projects
Planning your work (HTML)
Effects and animation presets
Effects overview and resources (HTML)
Animation presets overview and resources (HTML)
Animation, keyframes, and expressions
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Twitter™ and Facebook posts are not covered under the terms of Creative Commons.
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Animation and keyframes overview and resources (HTML)
Expression examples (HTML)
Text animation
About text animation (HTML)
Examples and resources for text animation (HTML)
Motion tracking and stabilization
Resources for Imagineer mocha-AE (HTML)
Motion tracking overview and resources (HTML)
Warp Stablizer in After Effects CS5.5 (HTML)
3D
3D layers overview and resources (HTML)
Color correction and color management
Resources for color correction, color grading, and color adjustment (HTML)
Color management overview and resources (HTML)
New RED color science, and how to make it all work with After Effects CS5 and Premiere Pro CS5 (HTML)
Compositing
Compositing and transparency overview and resources (HTML)
Rotoscoping introduction and resources (HTML)
Keying introduction and resources (HTML)
Plug-ins and scripts
Plug-ins (HTML)
Scripts (HTML)
Rendering, exporting, and encoding
Rendering and exporting overview (HTML)
Exporting with Adobe Media Encoder (video 8:06)
Stereoscopic 3D
Stereoscopic 3D in After Effects CS5.5 (HTML)
All tutorials on Adobe.com
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Planning and setup
To the top
Planning your work
Planning for playback on computer monitors and mobile devices
Cross-platform project considerations
Planning your work
Correct project settings, preparation of footage, and initial composition settings can help you to avoid errors and unexpected results when
rendering your final output movie. Before you begin, think about what kind of work you’ll be doing in After Effects and what kind of output you
intend to create. After you have planned your project and made some basic decisions about project settings, you’ll be ready to start importing
footage and assembling compositions from layers based on that footage.
The best way to ensure that your movie is suitable for a specific medium is to render a test movie and view it using the same type of equipment
that your audience will use to view it. It’s best to do such tests before you have completed the difficult and time-consuming parts of your work, to
uncover problems early.
Aharon Rabinowitz provides an article on the Creative COW website about planning your project with the final delivery specifications in mind.
For a video tutorial on creating and organizing projects, go to the Adobe website.
For more information about encoding and compression options, see this FAQ entry: “FAQ: What is the best format for rendering and exporting
from After Effects?”
Storyboards and scripts (screenplays)
Before you begin shooting footage or creating animations, it is often best to start by planning your movie with storyboards and a script
(screenplay).
You can use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to create storyboards. You can use Adobe Story to collaboratively write and manage
screenplays. Adobe Story also converts information from a screenplay into XMP metadata that can automate the creation of shooting scripts, shot
lists, and more.
Note: To start the Adobe Story service from within After Effects, choose File > Go To Adobe Story.
Acquiring, choosing, and preparing footage
Before importing footage, first decide which media and formats you'll use for your finished movies, and then determine the best settings for your
source material. Often, it’s best to prepare footage before importing it into After Effects.
For example, if you want an image to fill your composition frame, configure the image in Adobe Photoshop so that the image size and pixel aspect
ratio match the composition size and pixel aspect ratio. If the image is too large when you import it into After Effects, you’ll increase the memory
and processor requirements of the compositions that use it. If the image is too small, you’ll lose image quality when you scale it to the desired size.
See Pixel aspect ratio and frame aspect ratio.
If you can shoot footage with consistent lighting and colors—and otherwise prevent the need to do a lot of tedious utility work in post-production—
then you’ll have more time for creative work. Consider using Adobe OnLocation while shooting footage to make sure that you get the most out of
your time and footage.
If possible, use uncompressed footage or footage encoded with lossless compression. Lossless compression means better results for many
operations, such as keying and motion tracking. Certain kinds of compression—such as the compression used in DV encoding—are especially bad
for color keying, because they discard the subtle differences in color that you depend on for good bluescreen or greenscreen keying. It’s often best
to wait until the final rendering phase to use compression other than lossless compression. See Keying introduction and resources.
If possible, use footage with a frame rate that matches that of your output, so that After Effects doesn’t have to use frame blending or similar
methods to fill in missing frames. See Frame rate.
The kind of work that you’ll be doing in After Effects and the kind of output movie that you want to create can even influence how you shoot and
acquire your footage. For example, if you know that you want to animate using motion tracking, consider shooting your scene in a manner that
optimizes for motion tracking—for example, using tracking markers. See Motion tracking workflow.
David Van Brink shows an excellent example on his omino pixel blog of why shooting in a high-definition format is useful even for standard-
definition delivery, because the extra pixels give you a lot of room for synthetic (fake) camera work, such as zooms and pans in post-production.
Trish and Chris Meyer provide tips for planning and delivering high-definition and widescreen work in articles on the ProVideo Coalition website:
The High-Def Checklist
Open Wide: Creating That Widescreen Look
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Project settings
Project settings fall into three basic categories: how time is displayed in the project, how color data is treated in the project, and what sampling rate
to use for audio. Of these settings, the color settings are the ones that you need to think about before you do much work in your project, because
they determine how color data is interpreted as you import footage files, how color calculations are performed as you work, and how color data is
converted for final output. See Color management and Timecode and time display units.
If you enable color management for your project, the colors that you see are the same colors that your audience will see when they view the
movie that you create.
Note: Click the color depth indicator at the bottom of the Project panel to open the Project Settings dialog box. Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click
(Mac OS) to cycle through color bit depths: 8 bpc, 16 bpc, and 32 bpc. See Color depth and high dynamic range color.
Composition settings
After you prepare and import footage items, you use these footage items to create layers in a composition, where you animate and apply effects.
When you create a composition, specify composition settings such as resolution, frame size, and pixel aspect ratio for your final rendered output.
Although you can change composition settings at any time, it’s best to set them correctly as you create each new composition to avoid unexpected
results in your final rendered output. For example, the composition frame size should be the image size in the playback medium. See Composition
settings.
If you’ll be rendering and exporting a composition to more than one media format, always match the pixel dimensions for your composition to
the largest pixel dimensions used for your output. Later, you can use output modules in the Render Queue panel to encode and export a
separate version of the composition for each format. See Output modules and output module settings.
Performance, memory, and storage considerations
If you work with large compositions, make sure that you configure After Effects and your computer to maximize performance. Complex
compositions can require a large amount of memory to render, and the rendered movies can take a large amount of disk space to store. Before
you attempt to render a three-hour movie, make sure that you have the disk space available to store it. See Storage requirements for output files.
If your source footage files are on a slow disk drive (or across a slow network connection), then performance will be poor. When possible, keep
the source footage files for your project on a fast local disk drive. Ideally, you’ll have three drives: one for source footage files, one from which the
application runs, and one for rendered output.
For more information, see Improve performance and Memory & Multiprocessing preferences.
Planning for playback on computer monitors and mobile devices
When you create a movie for playback on a personal computer—whether downloaded from the Web or played from a CD-ROM—specify
composition settings, render settings, and output module settings that keep file size low. Consider that a movie with a high data rate may not play
well from an older CD-ROM drive that cannot read data from the disc fast enough. Similarly, a large movie may take a long time to download over
a dial-up network connection.
When rendering your final movie, choose a file type and encoder appropriate for the final media. The corresponding decoder must be available on
the system used by your intended audience; otherwise they will not be able to play the movie. Common codecs (encoders/decoders) include the
codecs installed with media players such as Flash Player, Windows Media Player, and QuickTime Player.
Aharon Rabinowitz provides an article on the Creative COW website about planning your project with the final delivery specifications in mind.
Trish and Chris Meyer provide an article on the Artbeats website that describes some of the considerations for creating video for the Web.
For more information about encoding and compression options for After Effects, see this FAQ entry: “FAQ: What is the best format for rendering
and exporting from After Effects?”
Mobile devices
Many of the considerations for creating movies for playback on mobile devices, such as mobile phones and the Apple iPod, are similar to the
considerations for creating movies for playback on personal computers—but the limitations are even more extreme. Because the amount of
storage (disk space) and processor power are less for mobile phones than for personal computers, file size and data rate for movies must be even
more tightly controlled.
Screen dimensions, video frame rates, and color gamuts vary greatly from one mobile device to another. Adobe Device Central contains device
profiles that provide information about these characteristics. You can create a set of After Effects compositions tailored for a selected set of
devices by using the File > New Document In > After Effects command in Adobe Device Central. (See Create compositions for playback on mobile
devices.)
Use these tips when shooting video for mobile devices:
Tight shots are better. It’s hard to see a face on a tiny screen unless it’s shot in relative close-up.
Light your subjects well, and keep them separated from the background; the colors and brightness values between background and subject
should not be too similar.
Avoid excessive zooming and rolling, which hinder temporal compression schemes.
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Because stable (non-shaky) video is easier to compress, shoot video with a tripod to minimize the shaking of the camera.
Avoid using auto-focus and auto-exposure features. When these features engage, they change the appearance of all of the pixels in an
image from one frame to the next, making compression using interframe encoding schemes less efficient.
Use these tips when working in After Effects:
Use a lower frame rate (12-24 fps) for mobile devices.
Use motion-stabilization tools and noise-reduction or blur effects before rendering to final output, to aid the compressor in reducing file size.
Match the color palette to the mobile devices that you are targeting. Mobile devices, in general, have a limited color gamut. Previewing in
Adobe Device Central can help determine if the colors used are optimal for an individual device or range of devices.
Consider using cuts and other fast transitions instead of zooming in and out or using fades and dissolves. Fast cuts also make compression
easier.
After you’ve rendered your movie, you can view it exactly as it will appear on any of a large variety of mobile devices, using Adobe Device Central.
Cross-platform project considerations
After Effects project files are compatible with Mac OS and Windows operating systems, but some factors—mostly regarding the locations and
naming of footage files and support files—can affect the ease of working with the same project across platforms.
Project file paths
When you move a project file to a different computer and open it, After Effects attempts to locate the project’s footage files as follows: After Effects
first searches the folder in which the project file is located; second, it searches the file’s original path or folder location; finally, it searches the root
of the directory where the project is located.
If you are building cross-platform projects, it’s best if the full paths have the same names on Mac OS and Windows systems. If the footage and the
project are on different volumes, make sure that the appropriate volume is mounted before opening the project and that network volume names
are the same on both systems.
It’s best to store footage in the same folder as the project file or in another folder within that folder. Here’s a sample hierarchy:
/newproject/project_file.aep
/newproject/source/footage1.psd
/newproject/source/footage2.avi
You can then copy the newproject folder in its entirety across platforms, and After Effects will properly locate all of the footage.
Use the Collect Files feature to gather copies of all the files in a project into a single folder. You can then move the folder containing the copied
project to the other platform. See Collect files in one location.
File-naming conventions
Name your footage and project files with the appropriate filename extensions, such as .mov for QuickTime movies and .aep for After Effects
projects. Don’t use high-ASCII or other extended characters in filenames to be used cross-platform. If files will be used on the Web, be sure that
filenames adhere to applicable conventions for extensions and paths.
Supported file types
Some file types are supported on one platform but not another. See Supported import formats and Supported output formats.
Resources
Ensure that all fonts, effects, codecs, and other resources are available on both systems. Such resources are often plug-ins.
If you use a native After Effects effect in a project on one operating system, the effect will still work on the other operating system to which you’ve
transferred your project. However, some third-party effects and other third-party plug-ins may not continue to operate, even if you have versions of
these plug-ins on the target system. In such cases, you may need to reapply some third-party effects.
More Help topics
Adobe Story workflow
Analyzing lighting, exposure, and color
Test content in Adobe Device Central
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Setup and installation
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To the top
Installing the software
Activate the software
To submit a feature request or bug report about After Effects, choose Help > Send Feedback.
Installing the software
Before installing Adobe After Effects software, review complete system requirements and recommendations in the Read Me file. The Read Me file
is on the installation disc, as well as being included in the Release Notes document available through the After Effects support section of the
Adobe website.
For assistance with installation issues, see the Creative Suite Help and Support section on the Adobe website.
In addition to the full version of Adobe After Effects, you can also install additional copies on additional computers to use as After Effects render
engines to assist with network rendering. You install render engines in the same manner as the full version of the application. You run the render
engine using the Adobe After Effects Render Engine shortcut in the Adobe After Effects CS5 or After Effects CS5.5 folder.
Limitations of the trial version for Adobe After Effects CS5.5 and later
The trial version of After Effects CS5.5 and later includes all of the codecs that are included with the full version of After Effects CS5.5 and later.
This means that you can import and export to all of the supported file formats using the trial version. The free trial version of Adobe After Effects
CS5.5 and later software does not include some features that depend upon software licensed from parties other than Adobe. For example, Cycore
(CC) effects, mocha-AE, mocha Shape, FreeForm, and Color Finesse are available only with the full version of Adobe After Effects software.
(Keylight is included, however.) If your installation of After Effects is missing some third-party components, contact your system administrator to
ensure that all licensed components have been installed correctly. For more information about limitations of the trial version for After Effects
CS5.5, see the Adobe website.
Limitations of the trial version for Adobe After Effects CS5
The free trial version of Adobe After Effects CS5 software does not include some features that depend upon software licensed from parties other
than Adobe. For example, mocha for After Effects, some effect plug-ins, and some codecs for encoding and decoding MPEG formats are available
only with the full version of Adobe After Effects software. If your installation of After Effects is missing some third-party components, contact your
system administrator to ensure that all licensed components have been installed correctly. For more information about limitations of the trial
version for After Effects CS5, see the Adobe website.
After Effects CS5 and later is a 64-bit application
After Effects CS5 and later is a 64-bit application, so it can only run on 64-bit operating systems. If you are installing Adobe Creative Suite
Production Premium or Master Collection edition on a computer with a 32-bit operating system, then you can install After Effects CS4 and
Premiere Pro CS4 using an intaller that is included with the suite. To activate the CS4 versions of these applications, you must use a separate
serial number. For assistance, contact Adobe Customer Service.
For more information about installing and activating the 32-bit applications, see the Adobe website.
Activate the software
Activation is a simple, anonymous process. After installation, your Adobe software attempts to contact Adobe to complete the license activation
process. No personal data is transmitted.
A single-user retail license activation supports two computers. For example, you can install the software on a desktop computer at work and on a
laptop computer at home.
For more information on product licensing and activation, see the Read Me file or go to the Adobe website.
Note: Before transferring an activation to a different computer, deactivate the software by choosing Help > Deactivate.
More Help topics
Adobe Product Improvement Program
Activation and registration
Help and support
Services, downloads, and extras
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Workflows
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General workflow in After Effects
Basic workflow tutorial: Create a simple movie
General workflow in After Effects
Overview of general workflow in After Effects
Whether you use Adobe After Effects to animate a simple title, create complex motion graphics, or composite realistic visual effects, you generally
follow the same basic workflow, though you may repeat or skip some steps. For example, you may repeat the cycle of modifying layer properties,
animating, and previewing until everything looks right. You may skip the step of importing footage if you intend to create graphical elements entirely
in After Effects.
1. Import and organize footage
After you create a project, import your footage into the project in the Project panel. After Effects automatically interprets many common media
formats, but you can also specify how you want After Effects to interpret attributes such as frame rate and pixel aspect ratio. You can view each
item in a Footage panel and set its start and end times to fit your composition. For more information, see Importing and interpreting footage items.
2. Create, arrange, and composite layers in a composition
Create one or more compositions. Any footage item can be the source for one or more layers in a composition. You can arrange the layers
spatially in the Composition panel or arrange them in time using the Timeline panel. You can stack layers in two dimensions or arrange them in
three dimensions. You can use masks, blending modes, and keying tools to composite (combine), the images of multiple layers. You can even use
shape layers, text layers, and paint tools to create your own visual elements. For more information, see Composition basics, Creating layers,
Transparency, opacity, and compositing, Overview of shape layers, paths, and vector graphics, and Creating and editing text layers.
3. Modify and animate layer properties
You can modify any property of a layer, such as size, position, and opacity. You can make any combination of layer properties change over time,
using keyframes and expressions. Use motion tracking to stabilize motion or to animate one layer so that it follows the motion in another layer. For
more information, see Animation basics, Expression basics, and Tracking and stabilizing motion (CS5).
4. Add effects and modify effect properties
You can add any combination of effects to alter the appearance or sound of a layer, and even generate visual elements from scratch. You can
apply any of the hundreds of effects, animation presets, and layer styles. You can even create and save your own animation presets. You can
animate effect properties, too, which are simply layer properties within an effect property group. For more information, see Effects and animation
presets overview.
5. Preview
Previewing compositions on your computer monitor or an external video monitor is fast and convenient, even for complex projects, especially if you
use OpenGL technology to accelerate previews. You can change the speed and quality of previews by specifying their resolution and frame rate,
and by limiting the area and duration of the composition that you preview. You can use color management features to preview how your movie will
look on another output device. For more information, see Previewing and Color management.
6. Render and export
Add one or more compositions to the render queue to render them at the quality settings you choose and to create movies in the formats that you
specify. In some cases, you export using the File > Export or Composition menu, rather than the Render Queue panel. For more information, see
Basics of rendering and exporting.
Adobe recommends Have a tutorial you would like to share?
Getting Started with After Effects CS4,
CS5, & CS5.5
See this page on the After Effects Region of
Interest blog for a collection of resources for
getting started with After Effects.
Basic workflow and terminology overview
Adobe Press
This video from the After Effects CS5: Learn by Video
series describes the basic workflow for After Effects.
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Online resources for general workflow in After Effects
This video from the “After Effects CS5: Learn by Video” series provides an introduction to the basic terminology, workflow, concepts, and user
interface items in After Effects.
See this page on the After Effects Region of Interest blog for a collection of resources for getting started with After Effects.
Read a basic step-by-step introduction to the general workflow in an excerpt from After Effects Classroom in a Book.
Read Trish and Chris Meyer’s step-by-step introduction to creating a basic animation in a PDF excerpt from their book, The After Effects
Apprentice.
Basic workflow tutorial: Create a simple movie
This tutorial assumes that you have already started After Effects and have not modified the empty default project. This example skips the step of
importing footage and shows you instead how to create your own synthetic visual elements. After you have rendered a final movie, you can import
it into After Effects to view it and use it as you would any other footage item.
Some people prefer to use the mouse and menus to interact with After Effects, whereas others prefer to use keyboard shortcuts for common tasks.
For several steps in this example, two alternative commands are shown that produce the same result—the first demonstrating the discoverability of
menu commands and the second demonstrating the speed and convenience of keyboard shortcuts. You’ll likely find that you use some
combination of keyboard shortcuts and menu commands in your work.
1. Create a new composition:
Choose Composition > New Composition.
Press Ctrl+N (Windows) or Command+N (Mac OS).
2. Change the Duration value in the Composition Settings dialog box by entering 5.00 (5 seconds), choose Web Video from the Preset menu,
and click OK.
3. Create a new text layer:
Choose Layer > New > Text.
Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+T (Mac OS).
4. Type your name. Press Enter on the numeric keypad or press Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Return (Mac OS) on the main keyboard
to exit text-editing mode.
5. Set an initial keyframe for the Position property:
Click the triangle to the left of the layer name in the Timeline panel, click the triangle to the left of the Transform group name, and then
click the stopwatch button to the left of the Position property name.
Press Alt+Shift+P (Windows) or Option+Shift+P (Mac OS).
6. Activate the Selection tool:
Click the Selection Tool button in the Tools panel.
Press V.
7. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the bottom-left corner of the frame in the Composition panel.
8. Move the current-time indicator to the last frame of the composition:
Drag the current-time indicator in the Timeline panel to the far right of the timeline.
Press End.
9. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the top-right corner of the frame in the Composition panel.
A new keyframe is created at this time for the Position property. Motion is interpolated between keyframe values.
10. Preview your animation using standard preview:
Click the Play button in the Preview panel. Click Play again to stop the preview.
Press the spacebar. Press the spacebar again to stop the preview.
11. Apply the Glow effect:
Choose Effect > Stylize > Glow.
Type glow in the search field at the top of the Effects & Presets panel to find the Glow effect. Double-click the effect name.
12. Add your composition to the render queue:
Choose Composition > Add To Render Queue.
In After Effects CS5.5, and earlier, press Ctrl+Shift+/ (Windows) or Command+Shift+/ (Mac OS).
In After Effects CS6, press Ctrl+M (Windows) or Ctrl+Command+M (Mac OS). The previous keyboard shortcuts also work.
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Note: In After Effects CS6, the Composition > Make Movie command has been removed. Use the Add to Render Queue command
instead.
In After Effects CS6, choose File > Export > Add to Render Queue.
13. In the Render Queue panel, click the underlined text to the right of Output To. In the Output Movie To dialog box, choose a name and
location for the output movie file, and then click Save. For the location, choose something easy to find, like your desktop.
14. Click the Render button to process all items in the render queue. The Render Queue panel shows the progress of the rendering operation. A
sound is generated when rendering is complete.
You’ve created, rendered, and exported a movie.
You can import the movie that you’ve created and preview it in After Effects, or you can navigate to the movie and play it using a movie player
such as QuickTime Player, Windows Media Player, or Adobe Bridge.
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Workspace and workflow
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Setup and installation
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Installing the software
Activate the software
To submit a feature request or bug report about After Effects, choose Help > Send Feedback.
Installing the software
Before installing Adobe After Effects software, review complete system requirements and recommendations in the Read Me file. The Read Me file
is on the installation disc, as well as being included in the Release Notes document available through the After Effects support section of the
Adobe website.
For assistance with installation issues, see the Creative Suite Help and Support section on the Adobe website.
In addition to the full version of Adobe After Effects, you can also install additional copies on additional computers to use as After Effects render
engines to assist with network rendering. You install render engines in the same manner as the full version of the application. You run the render
engine using the Adobe After Effects Render Engine shortcut in the Adobe After Effects CS5 or After Effects CS5.5 folder.
Limitations of the trial version for Adobe After Effects CS5.5 and later
The trial version of After Effects CS5.5 and later includes all of the codecs that are included with the full version of After Effects CS5.5 and later.
This means that you can import and export to all of the supported file formats using the trial version. The free trial version of Adobe After Effects
CS5.5 and later software does not include some features that depend upon software licensed from parties other than Adobe. For example, Cycore
(CC) effects, mocha-AE, mocha Shape, FreeForm, and Color Finesse are available only with the full version of Adobe After Effects software.
(Keylight is included, however.) If your installation of After Effects is missing some third-party components, contact your system administrator to
ensure that all licensed components have been installed correctly. For more information about limitations of the trial version for After Effects
CS5.5, see the Adobe website.
Limitations of the trial version for Adobe After Effects CS5
The free trial version of Adobe After Effects CS5 software does not include some features that depend upon software licensed from parties other
than Adobe. For example, mocha for After Effects, some effect plug-ins, and some codecs for encoding and decoding MPEG formats are available
only with the full version of Adobe After Effects software. If your installation of After Effects is missing some third-party components, contact your
system administrator to ensure that all licensed components have been installed correctly. For more information about limitations of the trial
version for After Effects CS5, see the Adobe website.
After Effects CS5 and later is a 64-bit application
After Effects CS5 and later is a 64-bit application, so it can only run on 64-bit operating systems. If you are installing Adobe Creative Suite
Production Premium or Master Collection edition on a computer with a 32-bit operating system, then you can install After Effects CS4 and
Premiere Pro CS4 using an intaller that is included with the suite. To activate the CS4 versions of these applications, you must use a separate
serial number. For assistance, contact Adobe Customer Service.
For more information about installing and activating the 32-bit applications, see the Adobe website.
Activate the software
Activation is a simple, anonymous process. After installation, your Adobe software attempts to contact Adobe to complete the license activation
process. No personal data is transmitted.
A single-user retail license activation supports two computers. For example, you can install the software on a desktop computer at work and on a
laptop computer at home.
For more information on product licensing and activation, see the Read Me file or go to the Adobe website.
Note: Before transferring an activation to a different computer, deactivate the software by choosing Help > Deactivate.
More Help topics
Adobe Product Improvement Program
Activation and registration
Help and support
Services, downloads, and extras
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Legal Notices | Online Privacy Policy
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Workflows
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General workflow in After Effects
Basic workflow tutorial: Create a simple movie
General workflow in After Effects
Overview of general workflow in After Effects
Whether you use Adobe After Effects to animate a simple title, create complex motion graphics, or composite realistic visual effects, you generally
follow the same basic workflow, though you may repeat or skip some steps. For example, you may repeat the cycle of modifying layer properties,
animating, and previewing until everything looks right. You may skip the step of importing footage if you intend to create graphical elements entirely
in After Effects.
1. Import and organize footage
After you create a project, import your footage into the project in the Project panel. After Effects automatically interprets many common media
formats, but you can also specify how you want After Effects to interpret attributes such as frame rate and pixel aspect ratio. You can view each
item in a Footage panel and set its start and end times to fit your composition. For more information, see Importing and interpreting footage items.
2. Create, arrange, and composite layers in a composition
Create one or more compositions. Any footage item can be the source for one or more layers in a composition. You can arrange the layers
spatially in the Composition panel or arrange them in time using the Timeline panel. You can stack layers in two dimensions or arrange them in
three dimensions. You can use masks, blending modes, and keying tools to composite (combine), the images of multiple layers. You can even use
shape layers, text layers, and paint tools to create your own visual elements. For more information, see Composition basics, Creating layers,
Transparency, opacity, and compositing, Overview of shape layers, paths, and vector graphics, and Creating and editing text layers.
3. Modify and animate layer properties
You can modify any property of a layer, such as size, position, and opacity. You can make any combination of layer properties change over time,
using keyframes and expressions. Use motion tracking to stabilize motion or to animate one layer so that it follows the motion in another layer. For
more information, see Animation basics, Expression basics, and Tracking and stabilizing motion (CS5).
4. Add effects and modify effect properties
You can add any combination of effects to alter the appearance or sound of a layer, and even generate visual elements from scratch. You can
apply any of the hundreds of effects, animation presets, and layer styles. You can even create and save your own animation presets. You can
animate effect properties, too, which are simply layer properties within an effect property group. For more information, see Effects and animation
presets overview.
5. Preview
Previewing compositions on your computer monitor or an external video monitor is fast and convenient, even for complex projects, especially if you
use OpenGL technology to accelerate previews. You can change the speed and quality of previews by specifying their resolution and frame rate,
and by limiting the area and duration of the composition that you preview. You can use color management features to preview how your movie will
look on another output device. For more information, see Previewing and Color management.
6. Render and export
Add one or more compositions to the render queue to render them at the quality settings you choose and to create movies in the formats that you
specify. In some cases, you export using the File > Export or Composition menu, rather than the Render Queue panel. For more information, see
Basics of rendering and exporting.
Adobe recommends Have a tutorial you would like to share?
Getting Started with After Effects CS4,
CS5, & CS5.5
See this page on the After Effects Region of
Interest blog for a collection of resources for
getting started with After Effects.
Basic workflow and terminology overview
Adobe Press
This video from the After Effects CS5: Learn by Video
series describes the basic workflow for After Effects.
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To the top
Online resources for general workflow in After Effects
This video from the “After Effects CS5: Learn by Video” series provides an introduction to the basic terminology, workflow, concepts, and user
interface items in After Effects.
See this page on the After Effects Region of Interest blog for a collection of resources for getting started with After Effects.
Read a basic step-by-step introduction to the general workflow in an excerpt from After Effects Classroom in a Book.
Read Trish and Chris Meyer’s step-by-step introduction to creating a basic animation in a PDF excerpt from their book, The After Effects
Apprentice.
Basic workflow tutorial: Create a simple movie
This tutorial assumes that you have already started After Effects and have not modified the empty default project. This example skips the step of
importing footage and shows you instead how to create your own synthetic visual elements. After you have rendered a final movie, you can import
it into After Effects to view it and use it as you would any other footage item.
Some people prefer to use the mouse and menus to interact with After Effects, whereas others prefer to use keyboard shortcuts for common tasks.
For several steps in this example, two alternative commands are shown that produce the same result—the first demonstrating the discoverability of
menu commands and the second demonstrating the speed and convenience of keyboard shortcuts. You’ll likely find that you use some
combination of keyboard shortcuts and menu commands in your work.
1. Create a new composition:
Choose Composition > New Composition.
Press Ctrl+N (Windows) or Command+N (Mac OS).
2. Change the Duration value in the Composition Settings dialog box by entering 5.00 (5 seconds), choose Web Video from the Preset menu,
and click OK.
3. Create a new text layer:
Choose Layer > New > Text.
Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+T (Mac OS).
4. Type your name. Press Enter on the numeric keypad or press Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Return (Mac OS) on the main keyboard
to exit text-editing mode.
5. Set an initial keyframe for the Position property:
Click the triangle to the left of the layer name in the Timeline panel, click the triangle to the left of the Transform group name, and then
click the stopwatch button to the left of the Position property name.
Press Alt+Shift+P (Windows) or Option+Shift+P (Mac OS).
6. Activate the Selection tool:
Click the Selection Tool button in the Tools panel.
Press V.
7. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the bottom-left corner of the frame in the Composition panel.
8. Move the current-time indicator to the last frame of the composition:
Drag the current-time indicator in the Timeline panel to the far right of the timeline.
Press End.
9. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the top-right corner of the frame in the Composition panel.
A new keyframe is created at this time for the Position property. Motion is interpolated between keyframe values.
10. Preview your animation using standard preview:
Click the Play button in the Preview panel. Click Play again to stop the preview.
Press the spacebar. Press the spacebar again to stop the preview.
11. Apply the Glow effect:
Choose Effect > Stylize > Glow.
Type glow in the search field at the top of the Effects & Presets panel to find the Glow effect. Double-click the effect name.
12. Add your composition to the render queue:
Choose Composition > Add To Render Queue.
In After Effects CS5.5, and earlier, press Ctrl+Shift+/ (Windows) or Command+Shift+/ (Mac OS).
In After Effects CS6, press Ctrl+M (Windows) or Ctrl+Command+M (Mac OS). The previous keyboard shortcuts also work.
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Note: In After Effects CS6, the Composition > Make Movie command has been removed. Use the Add to Render Queue command
instead.
In After Effects CS6, choose File > Export > Add to Render Queue.
13. In the Render Queue panel, click the underlined text to the right of Output To. In the Output Movie To dialog box, choose a name and
location for the output movie file, and then click Save. For the location, choose something easy to find, like your desktop.
14. Click the Render button to process all items in the render queue. The Render Queue panel shows the progress of the rendering operation. A
sound is generated when rendering is complete.
You’ve created, rendered, and exported a movie.
You can import the movie that you’ve created and preview it in After Effects, or you can navigate to the movie and play it using a movie player
such as QuickTime Player, Windows Media Player, or Adobe Bridge.
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Planning and setup
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Planning your work
Planning for playback on computer monitors and mobile devices
Cross-platform project considerations
Planning your work
Correct project settings, preparation of footage, and initial composition settings can help you to avoid errors and unexpected results when
rendering your final output movie. Before you begin, think about what kind of work you’ll be doing in After Effects and what kind of output you
intend to create. After you have planned your project and made some basic decisions about project settings, you’ll be ready to start importing
footage and assembling compositions from layers based on that footage.
The best way to ensure that your movie is suitable for a specific medium is to render a test movie and view it using the same type of equipment
that your audience will use to view it. It’s best to do such tests before you have completed the difficult and time-consuming parts of your work, to
uncover problems early.
Aharon Rabinowitz provides an article on the Creative COW website about planning your project with the final delivery specifications in mind.
For a video tutorial on creating and organizing projects, go to the Adobe website.
For more information about encoding and compression options, see this FAQ entry: “FAQ: What is the best format for rendering and exporting
from After Effects?”
Storyboards and scripts (screenplays)
Before you begin shooting footage or creating animations, it is often best to start by planning your movie with storyboards and a script
(screenplay).
You can use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to create storyboards. You can use Adobe Story to collaboratively write and manage
screenplays. Adobe Story also converts information from a screenplay into XMP metadata that can automate the creation of shooting scripts, shot
lists, and more.
Note: To start the Adobe Story service from within After Effects, choose File > Go To Adobe Story.
Acquiring, choosing, and preparing footage
Before importing footage, first decide which media and formats you'll use for your finished movies, and then determine the best settings for your
source material. Often, it’s best to prepare footage before importing it into After Effects.
For example, if you want an image to fill your composition frame, configure the image in Adobe Photoshop so that the image size and pixel aspect
ratio match the composition size and pixel aspect ratio. If the image is too large when you import it into After Effects, you’ll increase the memory
and processor requirements of the compositions that use it. If the image is too small, you’ll lose image quality when you scale it to the desired size.
See Pixel aspect ratio and frame aspect ratio.
If you can shoot footage with consistent lighting and colors—and otherwise prevent the need to do a lot of tedious utility work in post-production—
then you’ll have more time for creative work. Consider using Adobe OnLocation while shooting footage to make sure that you get the most out of
your time and footage.
If possible, use uncompressed footage or footage encoded with lossless compression. Lossless compression means better results for many
operations, such as keying and motion tracking. Certain kinds of compression—such as the compression used in DV encoding—are especially bad
for color keying, because they discard the subtle differences in color that you depend on for good bluescreen or greenscreen keying. It’s often best
to wait until the final rendering phase to use compression other than lossless compression. See Keying introduction and resources.
If possible, use footage with a frame rate that matches that of your output, so that After Effects doesn’t have to use frame blending or similar
methods to fill in missing frames. See Frame rate.
The kind of work that you’ll be doing in After Effects and the kind of output movie that you want to create can even influence how you shoot and
acquire your footage. For example, if you know that you want to animate using motion tracking, consider shooting your scene in a manner that
optimizes for motion tracking—for example, using tracking markers. See Motion tracking workflow.
David Van Brink shows an excellent example on his omino pixel blog of why shooting in a high-definition format is useful even for standard-
definition delivery, because the extra pixels give you a lot of room for synthetic (fake) camera work, such as zooms and pans in post-production.
Trish and Chris Meyer provide tips for planning and delivering high-definition and widescreen work in articles on the ProVideo Coalition website:
The High-Def Checklist
Open Wide: Creating That Widescreen Look
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Project settings
Project settings fall into three basic categories: how time is displayed in the project, how color data is treated in the project, and what sampling rate
to use for audio. Of these settings, the color settings are the ones that you need to think about before you do much work in your project, because
they determine how color data is interpreted as you import footage files, how color calculations are performed as you work, and how color data is
converted for final output. See Color management and Timecode and time display units.
If you enable color management for your project, the colors that you see are the same colors that your audience will see when they view the
movie that you create.
Note: Click the color depth indicator at the bottom of the Project panel to open the Project Settings dialog box. Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click
(Mac OS) to cycle through color bit depths: 8 bpc, 16 bpc, and 32 bpc. See Color depth and high dynamic range color.
Composition settings
After you prepare and import footage items, you use these footage items to create layers in a composition, where you animate and apply effects.
When you create a composition, specify composition settings such as resolution, frame size, and pixel aspect ratio for your final rendered output.
Although you can change composition settings at any time, it’s best to set them correctly as you create each new composition to avoid unexpected
results in your final rendered output. For example, the composition frame size should be the image size in the playback medium. See Composition
settings.
If you’ll be rendering and exporting a composition to more than one media format, always match the pixel dimensions for your composition to
the largest pixel dimensions used for your output. Later, you can use output modules in the Render Queue panel to encode and export a
separate version of the composition for each format. See Output modules and output module settings.
Performance, memory, and storage considerations
If you work with large compositions, make sure that you configure After Effects and your computer to maximize performance. Complex
compositions can require a large amount of memory to render, and the rendered movies can take a large amount of disk space to store. Before
you attempt to render a three-hour movie, make sure that you have the disk space available to store it. See Storage requirements for output files.
If your source footage files are on a slow disk drive (or across a slow network connection), then performance will be poor. When possible, keep
the source footage files for your project on a fast local disk drive. Ideally, you’ll have three drives: one for source footage files, one from which the
application runs, and one for rendered output.
For more information, see Improve performance and Memory & Multiprocessing preferences.
Planning for playback on computer monitors and mobile devices
When you create a movie for playback on a personal computer—whether downloaded from the Web or played from a CD-ROM—specify
composition settings, render settings, and output module settings that keep file size low. Consider that a movie with a high data rate may not play
well from an older CD-ROM drive that cannot read data from the disc fast enough. Similarly, a large movie may take a long time to download over
a dial-up network connection.
When rendering your final movie, choose a file type and encoder appropriate for the final media. The corresponding decoder must be available on
the system used by your intended audience; otherwise they will not be able to play the movie. Common codecs (encoders/decoders) include the
codecs installed with media players such as Flash Player, Windows Media Player, and QuickTime Player.
Aharon Rabinowitz provides an article on the Creative COW website about planning your project with the final delivery specifications in mind.
Trish and Chris Meyer provide an article on the Artbeats website that describes some of the considerations for creating video for the Web.
For more information about encoding and compression options for After Effects, see this FAQ entry: “FAQ: What is the best format for rendering
and exporting from After Effects?”
Mobile devices
Many of the considerations for creating movies for playback on mobile devices, such as mobile phones and the Apple iPod, are similar to the
considerations for creating movies for playback on personal computers—but the limitations are even more extreme. Because the amount of
storage (disk space) and processor power are less for mobile phones than for personal computers, file size and data rate for movies must be even
more tightly controlled.
Screen dimensions, video frame rates, and color gamuts vary greatly from one mobile device to another. Adobe Device Central contains device
profiles that provide information about these characteristics. You can create a set of After Effects compositions tailored for a selected set of
devices by using the File > New Document In > After Effects command in Adobe Device Central. (See Create compositions for playback on mobile
devices.)
Use these tips when shooting video for mobile devices:
Tight shots are better. It’s hard to see a face on a tiny screen unless it’s shot in relative close-up.
Light your subjects well, and keep them separated from the background; the colors and brightness values between background and subject
should not be too similar.
Avoid excessive zooming and rolling, which hinder temporal compression schemes.
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Because stable (non-shaky) video is easier to compress, shoot video with a tripod to minimize the shaking of the camera.
Avoid using auto-focus and auto-exposure features. When these features engage, they change the appearance of all of the pixels in an
image from one frame to the next, making compression using interframe encoding schemes less efficient.
Use these tips when working in After Effects:
Use a lower frame rate (12-24 fps) for mobile devices.
Use motion-stabilization tools and noise-reduction or blur effects before rendering to final output, to aid the compressor in reducing file size.
Match the color palette to the mobile devices that you are targeting. Mobile devices, in general, have a limited color gamut. Previewing in
Adobe Device Central can help determine if the colors used are optimal for an individual device or range of devices.
Consider using cuts and other fast transitions instead of zooming in and out or using fades and dissolves. Fast cuts also make compression
easier.
After you’ve rendered your movie, you can view it exactly as it will appear on any of a large variety of mobile devices, using Adobe Device Central.
Cross-platform project considerations
After Effects project files are compatible with Mac OS and Windows operating systems, but some factors—mostly regarding the locations and
naming of footage files and support files—can affect the ease of working with the same project across platforms.
Project file paths
When you move a project file to a different computer and open it, After Effects attempts to locate the project’s footage files as follows: After Effects
first searches the folder in which the project file is located; second, it searches the file’s original path or folder location; finally, it searches the root
of the directory where the project is located.
If you are building cross-platform projects, it’s best if the full paths have the same names on Mac OS and Windows systems. If the footage and the
project are on different volumes, make sure that the appropriate volume is mounted before opening the project and that network volume names
are the same on both systems.
It’s best to store footage in the same folder as the project file or in another folder within that folder. Here’s a sample hierarchy:
/newproject/project_file.aep
/newproject/source/footage1.psd
/newproject/source/footage2.avi
You can then copy the newproject folder in its entirety across platforms, and After Effects will properly locate all of the footage.
Use the Collect Files feature to gather copies of all the files in a project into a single folder. You can then move the folder containing the copied
project to the other platform. See Collect files in one location.
File-naming conventions
Name your footage and project files with the appropriate filename extensions, such as .mov for QuickTime movies and .aep for After Effects
projects. Don’t use high-ASCII or other extended characters in filenames to be used cross-platform. If files will be used on the Web, be sure that
filenames adhere to applicable conventions for extensions and paths.
Supported file types
Some file types are supported on one platform but not another. See Supported import formats and Supported output formats.
Resources
Ensure that all fonts, effects, codecs, and other resources are available on both systems. Such resources are often plug-ins.
If you use a native After Effects effect in a project on one operating system, the effect will still work on the other operating system to which you’ve
transferred your project. However, some third-party effects and other third-party plug-ins may not continue to operate, even if you have versions of
these plug-ins on the target system. In such cases, you may need to reapply some third-party effects.
More Help topics
Adobe Story workflow
Analyzing lighting, exposure, and color
Test content in Adobe Device Central
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Working with After Effects and other applications
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Working with Adobe Bridge and After Effects
Working with Photoshop and After Effects
Working with Flash and After Effects
Working with Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects
Working with Adobe Encore and After Effects
Edit audio in Adobe Soundbooth
Edit in Adobe Audition (CS5.5 and later)
Working with Adobe Bridge and After Effects
Adobe Bridge is the control center for Adobe Creative Suite software. Use Adobe Bridge to browse for project templates and animation presets;
run cross-product workflow automation scripts; view and manage files and folders; organize your files by assigning keywords, labels, and ratings to
them; search for files and folders; and view, edit, and add metadata.
To open Adobe Bridge from After Effects, choose File > Browse In Bridge.
To reveal a file in Adobe Bridge, select a file in the Project panel and choose File > Reveal In Bridge.
To use Adobe Bridge to open template projects, choose File > Browse Template Projects.
To use Adobe Bridge to browse for animation presets, choose Animation > Browse Presets.
For video tutorials on using Adobe Bridge, go to the Adobe website:
What is Adobe Bridge?
New features in Adobe Bridge CS5
Metadata and keywords in Adobe Bridge
Working with Photoshop and After Effects
If you use Photoshop to create still images, you can use After Effects to bring those still images together and make them move and change. In
After Effects, you can animate an entire Photoshop image or any of its layers. You can even animate individual properties of Photoshop images,
such as the properties of a layer style. If you use After Effects to create movies, you can use Photoshop to refine the individual frames of those
movies.
Comparative advantages for specific tasks
The strengths of After Effects are in its animation and automation features. This means that After Effects excels at tasks that can be automated
from one frame to another. For example, you can use the motion tracking features of After Effects to track the motion of a microphone boom, and
then automatically apply that same motion to a stroke made with the Clone Stamp tool. In this manner, you can remove the microphone from
every frame of a shot, without having to paint the microphone out by hand on each frame.
In contrast, Photoshop has excellent tools for painting and drawing.
Deciding which application to use for painting depends on the task. Paint strokes in Photoshop directly affect the pixels of the layer. Paint strokes
in After Effects are elements of an effect, each of which can be turned on or off or modified at any time. If you want to have complete control of
each paint stroke after you’ve applied it, or if you want to animate the paint strokes themselves, use the After Effects paint tools. If the purpose of
applying a paint stroke is to permanently modify a still image, use the Photoshop paint tools. If you are applying several paint strokes by hand to
get rid of dust, consider using the Photoshop paint tools.
The animation and video features in Photoshop Extended include simple keyframe-based animation. After Effects uses a similar interface, though
the breadth and flexibility of its animation features are far greater.
3D objects, 3D models, and 3D images
In general, After Effects 3D functionality is limited to the manipulation of two-dimensional layers in three dimensions. Photoshop, however, can
manipulate complete 3D models and output two-dimensional composites and cross-sections of these 3D models from any angle. After Effects can
import and render 3D object layers from PSD files. You can set a layer based on a PSD 3D object layer to honor the active camera in an After
Effects composition. When the camera moves around such a layer, it views the 3D object from various angles.
To see a video tutorial about using 3D object layers from Photoshop in After Effects, see the Adobe website.
After Effects can also automatically create 3D layers to mimic the planes created by the Photoshop Vanishing Point feature.
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To see video tutorials about using Vanishing Point data from Photoshop in After Effects, see the Adobe website:
Working with Vanishing Point in Photoshop and After Effects
Using Vanishing Point to map a 3D environment
Exchanging still images
After Effects can import and export still images in many formats, but you will usually want to use the native Photoshop PSD format when
transferring individual frames or still image sequences between After Effects and Photoshop.
When importing or exporting a PSD file, After Effects can preserve individual layers, masks, layer styles, and most other attributes. When you
import a PSD file into After Effects, you can choose whether to import it as a flattened image or as a composition with its layers separate and
intact.
It is often a good idea to prepare a still image in Photoshop before importing it into After Effects. Examples of such preparation include correcting
color, scaling, and cropping. It is often better for you to do something once to the source image in Photoshop than to have After Effects perform
the same operation many times per second as it renders each frame for previews or final output.
By creating your new PSD document from the Photoshop New File dialog box with a Film & Video preset, you can start with a document that is set
up correctly for a specific video output type. If you are already working in After Effects, you can create a new PSD document that matches your
composition and project settings by choosing File > New > Adobe Photoshop File.
Exchanging movies
You can also exchange video files, such as QuickTime movies, between Photoshop and After Effects. When you open a movie in Photoshop, a
video layer is created that refers to the source footage file. Video layers allow you to paint nondestructively on the movie’s frames, much as After
Effects works with layers with movies as their sources. When you save a PSD file with a video layer, you save the edits that you made to the video
layer, not edits to the source footage itself.
You can also render a movie directly from Photoshop. For example, you can create a QuickTime movie from Photoshop that can then be imported
into After Effects.
Color
After Effects works internally with colors in an RGB (red, green, blue) color space. Though After Effects can convert CMYK images to RGB, you
should do video and animation work in Photoshop in RGB.
If relevant for your final output, it is better to ensure that the colors in your image are broadcast-safe in Photoshop before you import the image into
After Effects. A good way to do this is to assign the appropriate destination color space—for example, SDTV (Rec. 601)—to the document in
Photoshop. After Effects performs color management according to color profiles embedded in documents, including imported PSD files.
Working with Flash and After Effects
If you use Adobe® Flash® to create video or animation, you can use After Effects to edit and refine the video. For example, from Flash you can
export animations and applications as QuickTime movies or Flash Video (FLV) files. You can then use After Effects to edit and refine the video.
If you use After Effects to edit and composite video, you can then use Flash to publish that video. You can also export an After Effects composition
as XFL content for further editing in Flash.
Flash and After Effects use separate terms for some concepts that they share in common, including the following:
A composition in After Effects is like a movie clip in Flash Professional.
The composition frame in the Composition panel is like the Stage in Flash Professional.
The Project panel in After Effects is like the Library panel in Flash Professional.
Project files in After Effects are like FLA files in Flash Professional.
You render and export a movie from After Effects; you publish a SWF file from Flash Professional.
Additional resources
The following video tutorials provide additional detailed information about using Flash together with After Effects:
“Importing and exporting XFL files between Flash and After Effects” at www.adobe.com/go/lrvid4098_xp.
“Exporting an After Effects composition to Flash Professional using SWF, F4V/FLV, and XFL” at www.adobe.com/go/lrvid4105_xp.
“Converting metadata and markers to cue points for use in Flash” at www.adobe.com/go/lrvid4111_xp.
Michael Coleman, product manager for After Effects, provides a video of a presentation from Adobe MAX on Adobe TV in which he
demonstrates the use of mocha for After Effects and Flash together to dynamically replace a video at run time in Flash Player:
http://www.adobe.com/go/learn_aefl_vid15383v1008_en
Tom Green provides a brief video tutorial on the Layers Magazine website that shows how to use the XFL format to export an After Effects
composition for use in Flash Professional: http://www.layersmagazine.com/exporting-xfl-fomrat-from-after-effects-to-flash.html
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The following articles provide additional information about using Flash and After Effects together:
Richard Harrington and Marcus Geduld provide an excerpt, "Flash Essentials for After EffectsUsers", of their book After Effects for Flash |
Flash for After Effects on the Peachpit website. In this chapter, Richard and Marcus explain Flash in terms that an After Effects user can
understand. http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1350895
Richard Harrington and Marcus Geduld also provide "After Effects Essentials for Flash Users", another excerpt from their book After Effects
for Flash | Flash for After Effects. In this chapter, Richard and Marcus explain After Effects in terms that a Flash user can understand.
http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1350894
Tom Green provides a detailed article titled IntegratingFlash Professional CS4 with After Effects CS4 in the Flash Developer Center:
http://www.adobe.com/go/learn_aefl_integrating_fl_ae_en
Robert Powers provides a video tutorial on the Slippery Rock NYC website that shows the basics of usingAfter Effects from the perspective of
someone who is familiar withFlash Professional.
Exporting QuickTime video from Flash
If you create animations or applications with Flash, you can export them as QuickTime movies using the File > Export > Export Movie command in
Flash. For a Flash animation, you can optimize the video output for animation. For a Flash application, Flash renders video of the application as it
runs, allowing the user to manipulate it. This lets you capture the branches or states of your application that you want to include in the video file.
Rendering and exporting FLV and F4V files from After Effects
When you render finished video from After Effects, select FLV or F4V as the output format to render and export video that can play in Flash Player.
You can then import the FLV or F4V file into Flash and publish it in a SWF file, which can be played by Flash Player.
Importing and publishing video in Flash
When you import an FLV or F4V file into Flash, you can use various techniques, such as scripting or Flash components, to control the visual
interface that surrounds your video. For example, you might include playback controls or other graphics. You can also add graphic layers on top of
the FLV or F4V file for composite results.
Composite graphics, animation, and video
Flash and After Effects each include many capabilities that allow you to perform complex compositing of video and graphics. Which application you
choose to use will depend on your personal preferences and the type of final output you want to create.
Flash is the more web-oriented of the two applications, with its small final file size. Flash also allows for run-time control of animation. After Effects
is oriented toward video and film production, provides a wide range of visual effects, and is generally used to create video files as final output.
Both applications can be used to create original graphics and animation. Both use a timeline and offer scripting capabilities for controlling
animation programmatically. After Effects includes a larger set of effects, while the Flash ActionScript® language is the more robust of the two
scripting environments.
Both applications allow you to place graphics on separate layers for compositing. These layers can be turned on and off as needed. Both also
allow you to apply effects to the contents of individual layers.
In Flash, composites do not affect the video content directly; they affect only the appearance of the video during playback in Flash Player. In
contrast, when you composite with imported video in After Effects, the video file you export actually incorporates the composited graphics and
effects.
Because all drawing and painting in After Effects is done on layers separate from any imported video, it is always non-destructive. Flash has both
destructive and nondestructive drawing modes.
Exporting After Effects content for use in Flash
You can export After Effects content for use in Flash. You can export a SWF file that can be played immediately in Flash Player or used as part of
another rich media project. When you export content from After Effects in SWF format, some of the content may be flattened and rasterized in the
SWF file.
To edit your After Effects content further in Flash, export a composition as an XFL file. An XFL file is a type of Flash file that stores the same
information as a FLA file, but in XML format. When you export a composition from After Effects as XFL for use in Flash, some of the layers and
keyframes that you created in After Effects are preserved in the Flash version. When you import the XFL file in Flash, it unpacks the XFL file and
adds the assets from the file to your FLA file according to the instructions in the XFL file.
The following video tutorials provide detailed information about exporting XFL files from After Effects:
Importing and exporting XFL files between Flash and After Effects (Adobe.com)
Exporting XFL Format from After Effects to Flash (Tom Green, Layers Magazine)
Importing Flash SWF files into After Effects
Flash has a unique set of vector art tools that make it useful for a variety of drawing tasks not possible in After Effects or Adobe® Illustrator®. You
can import SWF files into After Effects to composite them with other video or render them as video with additional creative effects. Interactive
content and scripted animation are not retained. Animation defined by keyframes is retained.
Each SWF file imported into After Effects is flattened into a single continuously rasterized layer, with its alpha channel preserved. Continuous
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rasterization means that graphics stay sharp as they are scaled up. This import method allows you to use the root layer or object of your SWF files
as a smoothly rendered element in After Effects, allowing the best capabilities of each tool to work together.
Working with Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects
Adobe Premiere Pro is designed to capture, import, and edit movies. After Effects is designed to create motion graphics, apply visual effects,
composite visual elements, perform color correction, and perform other post-production tasks for movies.
You can easily exchange projects, compositions, sequences, tracks, and layers between After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro:
You can import an Adobe Premiere Pro project into After Effects. (See Import an Adobe Premiere Pro project.)
You can export an After Effects project as an Adobe Premiere Pro project. (See Export an After Effects project as an Adobe Premiere Pro
project.)
You can copy and paste layers and tracks between After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro. (See Copy between After Effects and Adobe
Premiere Pro.)
There is copy and paste support of adjustment layers between Premiere Pro CS6 and After Effects CS6.
If you have Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium or Master Collection, you can also do the following:
Start Adobe Premiere Pro from within After Effects and capture footage for use in After Effects. (See Use Adobe Premiere Pro for capture
(Production Premium and Master Collection only).)
Note: In After Effects CS6 and Premiere Pro CS6, the limitation of Dynamic Link to only work within a suite has been removed (for example,
Dynamic Link will now work between CS6 applications purchased as individual products). In After Effects CS6, starting Premiere Pro from
within After Effects and capturing footage is not supported. The File > Import > Capture in Premiere Pro command has been removed.
Use Adobe Dynamic Link to work with After Effects compositions in Adobe Premiere Pro without first rendering them. A dynamically linked
composition appears as a clip in Adobe Premiere Pro.
Use Adobe Dynamic Link to work with Adobe Premiere Pro sequences in After Effects without first rendering them. A dynamically linked
sequence appears as a footage item in After Effects.
Start After Effects from within Premiere Pro and create a new composition with settings that match the settings of your Premiere Pro project.
Select a set of clips in Adobe Premiere Pro and convert them to a composition in After Effects.
For information on using Dynamic Link with After Effects and Premiere Pro, see Dynamic Link and After Effects and the relevant sections of Adobe
Premiere Pro Help.
For a video tutorial about working with After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro using Dynamic Link, go to the Adobe website.
Working with Adobe Encore and After Effects
You can use After Effects to quickly create buttons and button layers for use in Adobe Encore. Adobe Encore uses a naming standard to define a
button and the role of individual layers as subpicture highlights and video thumbnails. When you select a group of layers in After Effects to use as
an Adobe Encore button, After Effects precomposes the layers and names the precomposition according to the naming standards for buttons.
Highlight layer names receive the prefix (=1), (=2), or (=3), and video thumbnail names receive the prefix (%).
Note: In After Effects CS6, the Layer > Adobe Encore menu and submenu commands have been removed.
After Effects includes template projects that include entire DVD menus for you to use as a basis for your own DVD menus. To use Adobe
Bridge to browse and import these template projects, choose File > Browse Template Projects. (See Template projects and example projects.)
For information on using Dynamic Link with After Effects and Encore, see Dynamic Link and After Effects.
For video tutorials about using After Effects with Encore, go to the Adobe website:
Creating Encore menus with After Effects
Using Dynamic Link
Paul Tuersley provides a script on the After Effects script website for importing subtitles into After Effects and controlling their formatting.
Create a button for Adobe Encore
1. In the Timeline panel, select the layers for use in the button.
2. Choose Layer > Adobe Encore > Create Button.
3. Enter a name for the button.
4. Use the menus to assign up to three highlight layers and one video thumbnail layer, and then click OK.
A new composition is created with the button name. In keeping with the Adobe Encore naming standards, the prefix (+) is added to the name
of the composition to indicate that it is a button.
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Important: If you rename the button, be sure to retain the (+) prefix. The prefix ensures that Adobe Encore recognizes the file as a button.
Assign a subpicture highlight and video thumbnail to a layer
1. Select the layer.
2. Choose Layer > Adobe Encore > Assign To Subpicture [number] or Assign To Video Thumbnail.
Export a button for use in Adobe Encore
1. Open the composition that represents the button, and move the current-time indicator to the desired frame.
2. Choose Composition > Save Frame As > Photoshop Layers.
Edit audio in Adobe Soundbooth
While working in After Effects, you may want to use the more comprehensive audio-editing capabilities of Adobe Soundbooth to fine-tune your
audio. You can use the Edit In Adobe Soundbooth command to start Soundbooth from within After Effects.
Note: In After Effects CS6, the Edit > Edit in Adobe Soundbooth menu and command have been removed. Use the Edit > Edit in Adobe Audition
command instead.
If you edit an audio-only file (for example, a WAV file) in Soundbooth, you change the original file. If you edit a layer that contains both audio and
video (for example, an AVI file), you edit a copy of the source audio file.
1. Select the layer that contains the audio that you want to edit. The item must be of a type that is editable in Soundbooth.
2. Choose Edit > Edit In Adobe Soundbooth to open the clip in Edit view in Soundbooth.
3. Edit the file, and then do one of the following:
If you’re editing an audio-only layer, choose File > Save to apply your edits to the original audio file, or choose File > Save As to apply
your edits to a copy of the audio file. If you choose File > Save As, you need to re-import the copy of the file into After Effects.
If you’re editing a layer that contains both audio and video, choose File > Save As. After you save the file, import it into After Effects, add
it to the composition, and mute the original audio in the audio-video clip by deselecting the Audio switch in the Timeline panel.
Note: Any effects applied to audio in After Effects aren’t included in the copy that is sent to Soundbooth.
Edit in Adobe Audition (CS5.5 and later)
While working in After Effects, you can use the more comprehensive audio-editing capabilities of Adobe Audition to fine-tune your audio. You can
use the Edit in Adobe Audition command to start Adobe Audition from within After Effects.
If you edit an audio-only file (for example, a WAV file) in Adobe Audition, you change the original file. If you edit a layer that contains both audio
and video (for example, an AVI file), you edit a copy of the source audio file.
1. Select the layer that contains the audio that you want to edit. The item must be of a type that is editable in Adobe Audition.
2. Choose Edit > Edit In Adobe Audition to open the clip in Edit view in Adobe Audition.
3. Edit the file, and then do one of the following:
If you’re editing an audio-only layer, choose File > Save to apply your edits to the original audio file. You can also choose file > Save As
to apply your edits to a copy of the audio file. If you choose File > Save As, import the copy of the file into After Effects.
If you’re editing a layer that contains both audio and video, choose File > Save As. After you save the file, import it into After Effects.
Then, add it to the composition, and mute the original audio in the audio-video clip by deselecting the Audio switch in the Timeline panel.
Note: Any effects applied to audio in After Effects aren’t included in the copy that is sent to Adobe Audition.
Tutorials and resources about using Adobe Audition to modify audio from After Effects can be found on this post from the After Effects Region of
Interest blog.
More Help topics
Adobe Bridge
Video and animation overview
3D
Vanishing Point
Opening XFL files
Importing After Effects compositions
Using After Effects to enhance menus
Button subpictures for highlighting
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Importing from Adobe After Effects
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Dynamic Link and After Effects
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About Dynamic Link
Create and link to After Effects compositions with Dynamic Link
Modify a dynamically linked composition in After Effects
Delete a dynamically linked composition or clip
Create a linked sequence in Adobe Premiere Pro with Dynamic Link
Dynamic Link performance
Dynamic Link features of After Effects are available only with Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium edition and Adobe Creative Suite Master
Collection edition.
About Dynamic Link
In the past, sharing media assets among post-production applications has required you to render and export your work from one application before
importing it into another. This workflow was inefficient and time-consuming. If you wanted to change the original asset, you rendered and exported
the asset again. Multiple rendered and exported versions of an asset consume disk space, and they can lead to file-management challenges.
Dynamic Link offers an alternative to this workflow. You can create dynamic links between After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Encore.
Creating a dynamic link is as simple as importing any other type of asset. Dynamically linked assets appear with unique icons and label colors to
help you identify them. Dynamic links are saved in projects generated by these applications.
Create and link to After Effects compositions with Dynamic Link
You can create After Effects compositions, and dynamically link to them, from Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore. You can also dynamically link to
existing After Effects compositions from Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore.
Create a composition from clips in Adobe Premiere Pro
You can replace selected clips in Adobe Premiere Pro with a dynamically linked After Effects composition based on those clips. The new
composition inherits the sequence settings from Adobe Premiere Pro.
1. In a sequence, select the clips you want in the composition.
2. Right-click any of the selected clips.
3. Select Replace With After Effects Composition.
Create a dynamically linked composition from Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore
Creating a new dynamically linked composition from Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore launches After Effects.After Effects then creates a project and
composition with the dimensions, pixel aspect ratio, frame rate, and audio sample rate of the originating project. (If After Effects is already running,
it creates a composition in the current project.) The new composition name is based on theAdobe Premiere Pro or Encore project name, followed
by Linked Comp [x].
1. In Adobe Premiere Pro or Adobe Encore, choose File > Adobe Dynamic Link > New After EffectsComposition.
2. If the After EffectsSave As dialog box appears, enter a name and location for the After Effects project, and click Save.
When you create a dynamically linked After Effects composition, the composition duration is set to 30 seconds. To change the duration,
select the composition in After Effects, choose Composition > Composition Settings. Click the Basic tab, and specify a new value for
Duration.
Link to an existing composition
For best results, match composition settings (such as dimensions, pixel aspect ratio, and frame rate) to the settings in the Adobe Premiere Pro or
Encore project.
Do one of the following:
In Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore, choose File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import After Effects Composition. Choose an After Effects project file
(.aep), and then choose one or more compositions.
In Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore, choose an After Effects project file and click Open. Then choose a composition in the displayed dialog box
and click OK.
Drag one or more compositions from the After EffectsProject panel to the Adobe Premiere Pro Project panel or the Encore Project panel.
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Drag an After Effects project file into the AdobePremiere Pro Project panel. If the After Effects project file contains multiple compositions, the
Import Composition dialog box opens.
Note: You can link to a single After Effects composition multiple times in a single Adobe Premiere Pro project. In an Adobe Encore project,
however, you can link to an After Effects composition only once.
If you create a dynamically linked composition from Encore, turn off subpicture highlight layers in After Effects, so that you can control their display
in Encore.
Dynamically linked After Effects compositions
Modify a dynamically linked composition in After Effects
Use the Edit Original command in Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore to modify a linked After Effectscomposition. Once the composition is open in
After Effects, you can change the composition without having to use the Edit Original command again.
1. Select the After Effects composition in the AdobePremiere Pro or Encore Project panel, or choose a linked clip in the Timeline, and choose
Edit > Edit Original.
2. Change the composition in After Effects. Then, switch back to Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore to view your changes.
The changes made in After Effects appear in Adobe Premiere Pro. Adobe Premiere Pro stops using any preview files rendered for the clip before
the changes.
Note: You can change the name of the composition in After Effects after creating a dynamic link to it from Adobe Premiere Pro.
Adobe Premiere Pro does not update the linked composition name in the Project panel. Adobe Premiere Pro does retain the dynamic link,
however.
Delete a dynamically linked composition or clip
You can delete a linked composition from an Encore project if the composition isn’t used in the project. You can delete a linked composition from
an Adobe Premiere Pro project at any time, even if the composition is used in a project.
You can delete linked clips from the timeline of an Adobe Premiere Prosequence or from an Encore menu or timeline at any time.
In Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore, select the linked composition or clip and press the Delete key.
Create a linked sequence in Adobe Premiere Pro with Dynamic Link
Link to a new sequence
Creating an Adobe Premiere Pro sequence from After Effects launches Adobe Premiere Pro. Adobe Premiere Pro then creates a project and
sequence with the dimensions, pixel aspect ratio, frame rate, and audio sample rate of the originating project. (If Adobe Premiere Pro is already
running, it creates a sequence in the current project.)
In After Effects, choose File > Adobe Dynamic Link > New Premiere Pro Sequence.
Link to an existing sequence
For best results, match sequence settings and project settings in Adobe Premiere Pro (such as dimensions, pixel aspect ratio, and frame rate) to
those settings in the After Effects project.
Do one of the following:
In After Effects, choose File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import Premiere Pro Sequence. Choose an Adobe Premiere Proproject, and then
choose one or more sequences.
Drag one or more sequences from the Adobe Premiere Pro Project panel to the After Effects Project panel.
Dynamic Link performance
A linked clip can refer to a complex source composition. Actions you perform on the complex source composition require additional processing
time. After Effects takes time to apply the actions and make the final data available to Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore. In some cases, the
additional processing time delays preview or playback.
To reduce playback delays, do one of the following:
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take the linked composition offline
disable a linked clip to temporarily stop referencing a composition
render the composition and replace the dynamically linked composition with the rendered file
If you commonly work with complex source compositions, try adding RAM or a faster processor.
Note: A linked After Effects composition will not support Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously multiprocessing. See Improve performance by
optimizing memory, cache, and multiprocessing settings.
More Help topics
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Workspaces, panels, and viewers
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Workspaces and panels
Viewers
Workspaces and panels
Adobe video and audio applications provide a consistent, customizable user interface. Although each application has its own set of panels, you
move and group panels in the same way in each application.
The main window of a program is the application window. Panels are organized in this window in an arrangement called a workspace.
Each application includes several predefined workspaces that optimize the layout of panels for specific tasks. You can also create and customize
your own workspaces by arranging panels in the layout that best suits your working style for specific tasks.
You can drag panels to new locations, move panels into or out of a group, place panels alongside each other, and undock a panel so that it floats
in a new window above the application window. As you rearrange panels, the other panels resize automatically to fit the window.
Example workspace
A. Application window B. Grouped panels C. Individual panel
To increase the available screen space, use multiple monitors. When you work with multiple monitors, the application window appears on the main
monitor, and you place floating windows on the second monitor. Monitor configurations are stored in the workspace.
Workspaces are stored in XML files in the preferences folder. With some caveats regarding monitor size and layout, these workspaces can be
moved to another computer and used there.
(Windows) [drive]:\Users\[user_name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\After Effects\10.5\ModifiedWorkspaces
(Mac OS) [drive]/Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects/10.5/ModifiedWorkspaces
Chris and Trish Meyer provide a video overview of the After Effects user interface on the Focal Press website.
See this video tutorial about workspaces by Andrew Devis on the Creative Cow website for more details.
Online resources about panels and workspaces
For a video about panels and workspaces, go to the Adobe website: www.adobe.com/go/vid0249.
Chris and Trish Meyer provide a video overview of the After Effects user interface on the Focal Press website.
Choose a workspace
Choose Window > Workspace, and select the desired workspace.
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Choose a workspace from the Workspace menu in the Tools panel.
If the workspace has a keyboard shortcut assigned, press Shift+F10, Shift+F11, or Shift+F12.
To assign a keyboard shortcut to the current workspace, choose Window > Assign Shortcut To [Workspace Name] Workspace.
Save, reset, or delete workspaces
Save a custom workspace
As you customize a workspace, the application tracks your changes, storing the most recent layout. To store a specific layout more permanently,
save a custom workspace. Saved custom workspaces appear in the Workspace menu, where you can return to and reset them.
Arrange the frames and panels as desired, and then choose Window > Workspace > New Workspace. Type a name for the workspace, and
click OK.
Note: (After Effects, Premiere Pro, Encore) If a project saved with a custom workspace is opened on another system, the application looks for a
workspace with a matching name. If it can’t find a match (or the monitor configuration doesn’t match), it uses the current local workspace.
Reset a workspace
Reset the current workspace to return to its original, saved layout of panels.
Choose Window > Workspace > Reset workspace name.
Delete a workspace
1. Choose Window > Workspace >Delete Workspace.
2. Choose the workspace you want to delete, and then click OK.
Note: You cannot delete the currently active workspace.
Dock, group, or float panels
You can dock panels together, move them into or out of groups, and undock them so they float above the application window. As you drag a
panel, drop zones—areas onto which you can move the panel—become highlighted. The drop zone you choose determines where the panel is
inserted, and whether it docks or groups with other panels.
Docking zones
Docking zones exist along the edges of a panel, group, or window. Docking a panel places it adjacent to the existing group, resizing all groups to
accommodate the new panel.
Dragging panel (A) onto docking zone (B) to dock it (C)
Grouping zones
Grouping zones exist in the middle of a panel or group, and along the tab area of panels. Dropping a panel on a grouping zone stacks it with other
panels.
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Dragging panel (A) onto grouping zone (B) to group it with existing panels (C)
Dock or group panels
1. If the panel you want to dock or group is not visible, choose it from the Window menu.
2. Do one of the following:
To move an individual panel, drag the gripper area in the upper-left corner of a panel’s tab onto the desired drop zone.
Drag panel gripper to move one panel
To move an entire group, drag the group gripper in the upper-right corner onto the desired drop zone.
Drag group gripper to move entire group
The application docks or groups the panel, according to the type of drop zone.
Undock a panel in a floating window
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When you undock a panel in a floating window, you can add panels to the window and modify it similarly to the application window. You can use
floating windows to use a secondary monitor, or to create workspaces like the workspaces in earlier versions of Adobe applications.
Select the panel you want to undock (if it’s not visible, choose it from the Window menu), and then do one of the following:
Choose Undock Panel or Undock Frame from the panel menu. Undock Frame undocks the panel group.
Hold down Ctrl (Windows®) or Command (Mac OS®), and drag the panel or group from its current location. When you release the mouse
button, the panel or group appears in a new floating window.
Drag the panel or group outside the application window. (If the application window is maximized, drag the panel to the Windows taskbar.)
Resize panel groups
To quickly maximize a panel beneath the pointer, press the ` (accent grave) key. (The accent grave is the unshifted character under the tilde, ~,
on standard US keyboards.) Press the key again to return the panel to its original size.
When you drag the divider between panel groups, all groups that share the divider are resized.
1. Do either of the following:
To resize either horizontally or vertically, position the pointer between two panel groups. The pointer becomes a double arrow .
To resize in both directions at once, position the pointer at the intersection between three or more panel groups. The pointer becomes a
four-way arrow .
2. Hold down the mouse button, and drag to resize the panel groups.
Dragging divider between panel groups to resize them horizontally
A. Original group with resize pointer B. Resized groups
Open, close, and show panels and windows
Even if a panel is open, it may be out of sight, beneath other panels. Choosing a panel from the Window menu opens it and brings it to the front of
its group.
When you close a panel group in the application window, the other groups resize to use the newly available space. When you close a floating
window, the panels within it close, too.
To open or close a panel, choose the panel from the Window menu.
To close a panel or window, click its Close button .
To open or close a panel, use its keyboard shortcut.
If a frame contains multiple panels, place the pointer over a tab and roll the mouse scroll wheel forward or backward to change which panel
is active.
If a frame contains more grouped panels than can be shown at once, drag the scroll bar that appears above the tabs.
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