Chapter 3 – The Basics of Video Editing in Adobe After Effects Part 1

In our last article we talked about the basic anatomy and setup of After Effects. Now that you’re familiar with the terminology and overall structure of the software we are going to start our first video editing project. 

How to Render your finished project

While this might be one of the last steps to learn about in After Effects, we’re going to discuss it first in this lesson. Why? Because you’re going to be rendering your project files and will be able to share some on the KidLit.TV Facebook group.

What is rendering?

Rendering in Adobe After Effects is a combination of all the layers, settings, and other information in a composition that make up your project. The rendering of a movie is the frame-by-frame process. Each of the frame makes up your movie.

Do you know what rendering enables you to do? Rendering is what makes all the Youtube videos possible. Rendering is basically exporting an image from Photoshop. You can save the project, but if you don’t render it you won’t have a file. If you don’t have a file, you won’t be able to find it on your computer.

So select the composition where you make a movie in the Project panel, and then do one of the following to add the composition to the render queue:

  • Choose Composition > Add To Render Queue.
  • Drag the composition to the Render Queue panel.
  • Click the triangle next to the Output To heading in the Render Queue panel to choose a name for the output file and then choose a location.
  • Click the triangle to the right of the Render Settings heading to choose a render settings template.
  • Click Render and wait for your project to complete. You will hear ading…ling sound so dont be frightened.

Video Effects (VFX) in After Effects

Now we will discuss how to change a video clip or still image’s color, how to make an image distorted, blurred, pixelated, etc.

Here’s a list of all of the effects in After Effects:

If you looked through the list of effects you might be excited and a little bit shocked by how many are included. Not to worry, you can browse and apply effects by using the Effects & Presets panel and typing in keywords.

Effects and Presets panel

All effects are applied in layers. You can add or modify characteristics of still images, video, and even audio. You will be able to alter the exposure or color of an image, manipulate sound, remove grain, enhance lighting, make a simple or complex animation or create a transition.

Transformation Group options

Once you add footage to your Timeline you will see a drop-down arrow next to your footage’s name. Here you will be able to animate it. If you click that arrow then a list of options will be shown. Here you can click on Transform and select from many different options to animate. Click on the little stop-watch icon to bring up the keyframe option. Once you have your keyframe you can animate the position, scale, rotation and opacity of your footage. Add another keyframe to set a certain animation.

To animate effects you use basic keyframes. Let’s say you used Gaussian Blur on an image. To make a simple blur in, blur out animation or to simply modify the overall look of the blurriness, you would go into the effect properties by using the Effect Controls panel, Timeline panel, or by moving effect control points in the Layer panel or Composition panel. (See Chapter Two to learn all about Layers and Compositions.)

Before we move on and here are a few terms you should familiarize with.

Adjustment Layers

To apply an effect to only a specific portion of a layer, use an adjustment layer.

If this effect is applied to an adjustment layer affects all the layers below it in the Timeline panel will be affected. (Visit the Adobe After Effects Help Website to learn how to Create an adjustment layer or re-read Chapter Two.)

Animating Effects

Remember the word keyframe? Well it’s an extremely important word to remember when making any animation in After Effects. To animated an effect add a keyframe to the Timeline. Mostly every effect requires that you set some keyframes and do all the work manually.

The Best Effect Tools

More AE Effects Tools

These tools are considered effects before they can morph, animate and change the characteristics in any image of video. These include the Puppet effect, the Paint effect, and the Roto Brush effect. We will cover each of these effects in later lessons.

Video Editing Prompt #1:

  • Step 1: Upload your content to your composition and timeline. (If you need a diagram while working re-read Chapter One and Chapter Two.)
  • Step 2: Add an effect to your project and use the keyframe method to animate the effect.
  • Step 3: Feel free to upload your work in progress to the KidLit.TV Facebook group.

Preview video and audio

Preview Options

You might be wondering how you actually preview your work. In any other video editing software the term rendering is always considered the final output of your work. Well in After Effects you also use rendering when you want to preview your work.

Standard Preview

Standard preview (a.k.a. spacebar play) plays video in the Composition, Layer, or Footage panel. Standard preview does not play audio.

  • Click the Play button in the Preview panel, or press the spacebar.

Use RAM Preview

RAM preview gives RAM to play video and audio in the Timeline, Layer, or Footage panel.

In the Preview panel, you can identify one of the following options:

  • RAM Preview Options
  • Shift+RAM Preview Options

Preview Only Audio

If you don’t preview the video using RAM then you won’t be able to hear your audio. When you preview only audio, the sound plays immediately, but there is no video. Don’t worry your computer isn’t broken and you don’t have a defunct software. This is normal After Effects behavior.

  • To preview only audio choose Composition > Preview > Audio Preview (Here Forward) or press the decimal point key (.) on the numeric keypad.
  • To preview only audio in the work area, choose Composition > Preview > Audio Preview (Work Area) or press Alt+decimal point (.) (Windows) or Option+decimal point (.) (Mac OS) on the numeric keypad.

Quick Tip to Quickly Preview Your Video:

  • To manually preview a certain section of your project in the Timeline panel drag the current-time marker.
  • To quickly “scrub” audio and video in the Timeline panel, Ctrl-drag (Windows) or Command-drag (Mac OS) the current-time indicator.

Text Layers

Text is always a nice way to spruce up your videos. You can add text to a composition using text layers. With these layers you can create animated titles, credit rolls, and vibrant typography.

After Effects uses two kinds of text: point text and paragraph text. Point text is useful for applying a single word or a line of characters while paragraph text is used for writing and formatting the text as one or more paragraphs.

How To Enter Point Text:

Choose one of the following :

  • Choose Layer > New > Text.
  • Double-click a Type tool.
  • Select the Horizontal Type tool  or the Vertical Type tool , and then click in the Composition panel
  • Enter text characters by typing. Press Enter on the main keyboard (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to begin a new line.
  • To end text-editing mode, press Enter on the numeric keypad, select another tool, or press Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Return (Mac OS).

How To Enter Paragraph Text:

  • Select the Horizontal Type tool  or the Vertical Type tool  .
  •  Do one of the following in the Composition panel to create a text layer.
  • Drag to define a bounding box from a corner.
  • Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) to define a bounding box around a center point.
  • Enter text by typing.
  • Press Enter on the main keyboard (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to begin a new paragraph.
  • To end text-editing mode, press Enter on the numeric keypad, select another tool, or press Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Return (Mac OS).

A fun fact to share is how you can copy text from other applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, or any text editor, and paste it into After Effects.

Video Editing Prompt #2: Make a new project with Text only. Feel free to share your work on the KidLit.TV Facebook group.

Now that you finished your first draft practice these techniques until it becomes second nature to you. By next week you will be able to animate text, control the flow of your effects and be familiarized with the Render Queue. Let us know what you would like to learn about After Effects!

Go to Chapter Four!

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