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6.1 Basic Adobe After Effects Workflow

After Effects is the professional tool of choice when it comes to stitching together and animating a time lapse. In this video, you’ll get the chance to familiarize yourself with the After Effects working environment, as well as learn how to import a sequence.

6.1 Basic Adobe After Effects Workflow

Although we can use QuickTime Pro to stitch together our time-lapse sequences, and see how our time-lapses are gonna look as video, the videos that they produce aren't really so flexible for editing. To create a more flexible work flow, I prefer to use Adobe After Effects. After Effects is basically an advanced video software that will enable you to animate and edit video sequences in a more advanced manner. This is the project interface, and I'm going to go ahead and import one of my sequences. So, I can go to File > Import > File, and that's gonna take me to this window here where I have a mixed up sequence. But if I click on Cancel, the easiest way is within this area here, Project window, double-click. It's going to jump to a folder. So I'm gonna go up a few levels and find some time-lapses. I keep all my exported time-lapses, so here's some that I've processed from Lightroom and let's just take one of these from Gatwick Airport. Click Open. So it automatically realizes it's a sequence and it's brought it in as 24 frames per second. If you wanted a different frame rate on import, you can go under the Settings and choose Import. Here you can change the frames per second to your desired frame rate. If I click on OK, it's going to remember those settings. Before I can use the video, I need to create what's known as a comp, or a composition. So if I hover over here I can see Create a New Composition, I'm gonna click on that. And this panel opens asking me about the settings. I'm gonna give this a name and I'm gonna make sure it's consistent with my sequence name. It's good to be organized and here I have some settings for the video. So it's remembered my last settings. And I often use full HD. So 1920 by 1080. This is a 16:9 ratio. Frame rate is 24, which is consistent with my video. You wanna make sure that that's the case for you. The duration, I can see here it's eight seconds, so I can enter that or I can trim the comp later on, which I will often do. So I'll click OK. The next thing I need to do is drag my sequence into the comp, so just click, hold, and release, and there it is. You'll notice that it's scaled strangely, so what I'll do is rescale that. So in the comp settings, you can see there's a hidden menu, wherever you see a triangle. If I expand the menu, you can see there's Transform and underneath there, let's just pull this up so we can see them all. We've got some different options here for editing the values of these. What I would recommend is learning the shortcuts for each of these, and saving yourself a trip to this menu. So, if I hit A, that's gonna be the anchor point. If I hit P, that's gonna take me to the position. S for scale, R for rotate, and T for opacity or T for transparency is an easy way to remember that. So I want to fix the scale, so I'm gonna click S for scale. Now, if I hover over this, I can click and drag and pull that down until it fits the view. And if I want to preview this, I can hit space bar, and what it's gonna do is it's gonna try to render through before I can play it back in real time. And you can see here the FPS, the frame rate, and it's telling us it's not in real time cuz it's quite heavy for it to process. Once this has gone green, it will return back to the beginning, and it will play it in real time and it will keep playing in a loop. Now the reason it's taking so long is because it has full quality selected here. So I could change this to half, or quarter, and let's just let that. Now we're seeing it in full resolution in real time. The view is also reduced to 37%, so I can go into 100% view and start analyzing sleeping people verses speeding people. I can go back to fit up to 100 to see the whole frame. Now notice it got to the end here and then it went to black because I didn't configure my settings. My sequence is eight seconds, and my comp is ten seconds, so let's resolve that. What you can do is pull this handle over until it meets up with the end there. We can zoom in, and make sure that's perfect. And then, if I right-click, choose Trim Comp to Work Area, I can make that go away. And now when I hit space bar it will play through and we will see it get to the end and then it will go straight back to the beginning again. There it goes. Let's look at the whole area, there we go. So it's gonna whiz on through there. And get to the end, and you barely even see the join. The joy of time-lapse. Okay, so what other things are useful for us to know now we're here? So you have another option, so if I change the quality of the resolution from Full to Half, it's gonna throw away my render there. If I hit space bar, it's gonna go through. But sometimes you want to use this option over here, RAM Preview. What that's gonna do is it's gonna basically do the same thing but it's gonna store that information and it will play back consistently. Sometimes if you have a heavy project your RAM will run out and you'll have gaps on your video here. So using a RAM preview will basically load all that information into the RAM for a smoother playback. So that works quite neatly. Some other features are hidden under this panel here. So we can see our grid options and maybe we want the proportional grid instead. So this is useful usually for lining up with the lower and upper thirds if you're trying to find the horizon. Remember, this one has already been fixed in Lightroom, but I could use the rotate to get that even tighter, but I think that's already okay. And these are grids that will just be rendered over the screen temporarily. So the powers within this program are pretty extreme. The only thing I need to do now is to save my project. Instead of exporting these videos out, I tend to save them as After Effects projects and then I can use dynamic linking to bring them into my other applications without having to export them or render them. So, I'm just gonna save this as a project somewhere and I'll just pop that at the root of my time lapse folder and just call that gatwickTest, cuz I'm not actually going to use it. And when I save that, I can close the application. And, when I'm using Premiere, I can just import this comp. The beauty of that is nothing gets exported, and I can jump back into this. Change a few things or add animations and save them and it's gonna automatically update in my Premiere timeline. So I'm gonna demonstrate this principle a bit later on, but this is just to get you acquainted with the After Effects workspace and prepare you for processing your videos.

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