Written for After Effects CS5.5
Lesson 1: Interface
I labeled the
The interface has two sides (because of the tabs) so the list continues:
currently in use
a) Effect Controls
Again, I have labeled accordingly
a)This is where you can choose which layer you
want to control/which layer you are currently
editing. In my case, I am editing the object called
"Black Solid 1" which happens to be a black solid
b)This is the actual effect "controls." Depending
on the effect you have selected, this will vary.
c)Sometimes you will find extra options...For
Example in the plugin "Optical Flares," the
"Options..." button, is crucial to creating the looks
of the flare.
d)The clocks next to the effect controls are the
"keyframe clocks." They decide when you are
going to set a keyframe or not.
That was Effect Controls. Moving on to...
b) Render Queue
There is not much to say about the render queue at this point in time except for its
existence. Render Settings, etc.will follow in another tutorial.
The composition can also be defined as your "Work Area." It shows a realtime render of
what is happening "Outcome."
a) This is again the selection of the composition. NOTICE: One project can have multiple
compositions. This is so that Effects Artists can stay organized.
b) The actual rendering of the frame, or, in the case that you have pressed the play button,
what will playback in your final render. NOTICE: This will most likely NOT be a Realtime
render (meaning the render will be slower in the Composition window, than if you render
it out to an MP4 outside of After Effects).
c) How big the composition should be while you are editing. I like keeping it at 25% so I
can see when external objects are flying in or masks are entering (more on Masks in a
d) Title/Action Safe Grid and the Proportional Grid/Rulers and Guides. If you are familiar
with Photoshop then you are most likely familiar with Guides. They are just to be able to
center certain objects, as After Effects does not have a "Snap-to-Grid" mode (that I
know of). As to Title/Action Safe: The Title/Action Safe Grid lets you see if you're titles
and/or movie(s) would be safe in all possible formats. If it does not cross the lines that
show up, then you are "safe."
e) The current frame your project is on. Mine is at 0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds, and 0
The "Parameters" section is where you can define overall options that are not effects (font,
text size, playback, etc.)
a) The Info bar is there no matter what Workspace you take (more on Workspaces later). It
shows the current percentages of red, green, and blue, depending on where your
mouse is, and it shows the x and y positions of the mouse.
b) The Preview options let you play back your composition with different options and
resolutions. It also lets you move frame by frame, which is useful for key-framing
c) The text preferences for size, font, color, etc.
d) The Effects and Presets tab is there so that you can search and browse (easier for
finding exactly what you need).
e) The Paragraph tab is just there to edit the paragraph indentation, positioning, etc.
Not much to say except that there is a small choice of different work layouts you can
choose from. Choose which one is the best that you can
work with. NOTICE: When you start typing text, it
automatically switches to the Workspace "Text" for you.
These are the standard controls like in Photoshop, there are the pen tool, the shape tools,
the camera rotation tool, the selection tool, the hand tool, and the text tool...
g) Project & Project Files
These are where your project files are stored. NOTICE: These do not make your project
heavier (as in size). Here you can drag project files for use in your composition. You can
even see a tiny thumbnail at the top of the "Project" Panel where it gives you the frame
rate, size, etc.
h) Files currently in use
This is where you see the files currently being used and where you can apply effects like in
Photoshop (Overlay, Color Dodge, Multiply, etc.) You can also make a frame 3D from here
and enable motion blur (more on those in a different tutorial). The project files act like
"Layers" in Photoshop. If you put one over the other in order, this will affect the order of
appearance in the "Composition" (see composition).