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2.1 After Effects Tour

In this lesson you are going to open up the project, get a quick tour of the After Effects interface, and learn how the project is organized. After Effects is a massive application, but this lesson is only going to focus on what you need to know to work with this logo sting project!

2.1 After Effects Tour

In this lesson, you're gonna open up the After Effects Project, get a quick tour of the After Effects interface, and learn how this project is laid out. So I'm gonna double-click on this After Effects Projects file, and it's gonna open right up in After Effects. All right, so when this project opens up, you'll get this pop up right here. And all this is saying is that After Effects needs to convert this from an older version, which this project was saved in, to the newest version. Your only option is to click OK, so just click OK and it'll open right up. All right, so this is the After Effects interface. If you've used After Effects before, you've seen this. If you're new to After Effects, this can be a little bit intimidating. But don't worry, you don't have to know every button, and switch, and tool in the interface to customize this and to get it to work for you. So what you're looking at here is what Adobe calls a workspace. It's a collection of panels and tools that are grouped in a specific way. And this workspace is customizable. So you can actually move it around. You can take these panels here and drag them out, and dock them. Move them around as you need to, to make this workspace work for you. Now by default, this project opened up with an animation workspace. You don't have to know what that is, that's just this particular arrangement of panels. Now, to get it to be something that I think will be more helpful, I want you to come up here to the menu, click window, workspace, and then right down here, we're just gonna select the standard workspace. The window will flash around for second and then it'll look nearly identical, but it's actually a little bit more simple. There are a few less panels in this layout here. So what are you looking at here? First, let's check out this project panel here. The project panel is where you are going to access any assets for your project. Whatever they are, video, audio, graphics, they're going to be located in this project panel. You can see there's a folder called assets. And if you drill down by clicking this little triangle here, you'll see there are more folders in here. There's a few image files. There's a few compositions. More on that in a second. And there are these right here, which are compositions. Down here, this is the timeline panel. And these is where those compositions open up. Now, I'm gonna explain more about compositions coming up in the next lesson. But really quick, this project opens up with eight compositions that are already opened for you. There's actually a bunch more. If you open up this assets and look in the comp folder, you can see there's a bunch of different compositions in there. That's what this little icon is right here. That's a comp icon. But by default we have one called your logo, one called setting, one called PMO 1. And if you'll remember back to the last lesson, that corresponds with one of the preview files. So these six compositions right here are actually the final compositions. When you make your customizations, these are the things that you're actually going to render out. Up here, you have your comp viewer. You can see this panel is now highlighted because it's in blue here. And this is where After Effects displays what's happening in the composition. Without this, you can't really see what's going on. I'm gonna jump back to the your logo comp and click inside here, and drag this thing right, here which is the current time indicator, because it was actually, the current time indicator was outside the bounds of this timeline here. So it wasn't showing anything, but if you just click and drag or if you hit home on the keyboard, that'll bring the CTI back to the beginning of the timeline. So in this comp viewer here you can use your middle mouse wheel if you have one. If you're on a touchpad you can do a two finger kind of scroll gesture. And that will zoom in and out of the comp. And that can be handy for looking at details. If you have a middle mouse button, if you click and hold that middle mouse button, you can drag the comp in the comp viewer. So if you wanted to look at this upper corner, for whatever reason, it's all black. But, say for example, we were in this comp right here, and you wanted to look at this upper corner, you could, and that's how you get there. You click and hold the middle mouse button, and you drag it around. And then, to zoom out you can just use your mouse wheel. In addition to using your middle mouse button to click and hold, you can also press and hold the space bar and just use the left click to move the frame around the viewer. This also works down here in the timeline window. Let's say you were zoomed in like this and you wanted to navigate. You can press and hold the space bar. And then click and drag your mouse. You can also do the same thing with the middle mouse button, click and drag. Or, you can see down here there's a bunch of tools right here. You can select the percentage that you want this viewed at. So 100%, or you can just select fit to comp, and that'll just fit it to whatever size you have this. And you can click and drag here on the bounds to make this a little bit bigger if you want. I'm actually recording this course at 720, which is a little bit small to be working in After Effects, but it's better for you to be viewing it on a smaller screen. If I record these videos at a smaller resolution because the text is going to be appear a little bit bigger, and it's gonna be a little bit easier for you to read. Now, to reset the comp, which can be sometimes annoying. But if you wanna center it back in the view you can just come right up here to this tools panel and double-click this hand tool. And that will recenter the comp in the comp viewer. Now speaking of tools, there are a handful of tools [LAUGH], there's actually a hand tool located right up here in this toolbar. There's a selection tool, a hand tool, a zoom tool, rotation tool, unified camera tool, pan behind tool, rectangle tool, pen tool, type tool, brush tool, clone tool, eraser tool, rotor brush, and puppet pin tool. Sound confusing? [LAUGH] It might be, but don't worry. The only tools that we're really gonna be working with here are the selection tool and maybe the horizontal type tool. None of those other tools we're gonna need to worry about at this point. Over on this side, there are a few more useful panels. There's an info panel here, this will tell you exactly where your cursor's located. You can see the x, y coordinates there. If you hover your cursor over an item, it'll give you the RGB and alpha value. So you can see right here there's no RGB and the alpha is zero. It's not displaying nothing, it's actually telling you that this is transparent. Now, it doesn't look transparent at this point, and that's because right down here in the comp viewer, there's a toggle transparency grid button. If you click that, you can see that it turns on this checkerboard pattern which shows you that this is actually transparent. You can see that even though the background changed from black to this checkerboard pattern, in the info display here, this didn't actually change. It's still showing you there's no RGB value because there's no pixels here, and it has an alpha of zero. As soon as I hover over something, you will see that now we get RGB, so it's giving you color value in red, green, and blue. And in this particular case, it's showing you that the alpha is 255. Now alpha is the transparency channel. So when it's zero its fully transparent, and in 8bit mode when its 255 it means it's fully opaque. Again, don't let that confuse you. It's just something to take note of now and it'll make sense more later, I promise. There's an audio panel here. If you wanna check levels, there's an align panel right here. That's gonna be useful for aligning your logo, which your gonna look at coming up in another lesson. There's a preview panel here, an effects and presets, and library. And there's something, I guess it's just those two. But when they're squished like that, you get this little double carat arrow because we can actually stack more panels in there, which I'll show you coming up in another lesson. So that's it for the basic quick and dirty tour of After Effects. These widows and panels are just the basics. If you look in the menu here, you'll see that there's actually a few more. But again, you don't have to worry about any of those. And you don't have to concern yourself about what they may or may not do. Because you're just gonna be focused on this project panel, these timeline panels, and these comps in here, and the comp viewer. Coming up in the next lesson, you’re gonna dive a little bit deeper into this project and get a better understanding of exactly how its put together with layers and compositions. So check that out, coming up next.

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