Adobe® After Effects® CC® Quick Start

Lesson 6/23 - The 5 Basic Properties


Adobe® After Effects® CC® Quick Start


Lesson Info

The 5 Basic Properties

We made it through the tough stuff. We're like brothers and sisters. We held hands. We made it through the difficult, desert, wilderness, of the interface. And all the bleh, all the boring stuff. The layer stuff. And now, we're going to start turning things, and it's going to start getting fun. And this is why we're here for After Effects. And you can tell by the art that it's fun time, it's fun time. So, we're going to talk about the five basic transforms. Every layer has five different attributes automatically assigned to it. These are called the five basic transforms. Just kind of like built in, like a built in effect. Kind of like, the same thing with premier, built in effects. Just kind of every clip in premier has these effects and after effects, same thing, built in properties applied to it. And with all of the bells and whistles, and amazing things that we do in After Effects, these five things are going to be what you do the most. So this is really the foundation of your work ...

in After Effects. Now, I'm actually going to start in this fantasy scene here. Which is.. Yeah you can laugh, it's adorable. It's adorable, don't act like it's not, It's amazing. So, Joanna made this great stuff. So I'm gonna go down and I'm gonna scroll down. Scroll down, 'till I find the lightning layer. So here's my lightning. Left and right lightning. So if I go to this little disclosure triangle; Right here, to the left hand side; I can click it, and open up the layer. Now you might just see, like, basic transform here. This is the category, of our five basic transforms. We open this up, and then we have these five basic properties. Anchor point, position, scale, rotation, and opacity. And these five things, again, are the things that you are going to be spending the most time with in after effects. Almost doesn't matter what your work flow is, doesn't matter if you're a motion graphics designer, or an animator, or a visual effects artist. You will be spending a huge part of time fiddling with these attributes, and really mastering them. So let's first talk about probably the easiest one, and that's opacity. Now, in after effects, it does get pretty cluttered, pretty fast. So again, we want to practice really good house-keeping. So what I like to do, and I know it's kind of easy for keyboard short-cuts, or it's early for keyboard short-cuts, but I want to teach you this one. Traps. The word traps. T-R-A-P-S, traps. And those are the keyboard short-cuts for these five basic transforms. The 'T' is the only one that's kind of confusing because it's opacity. I think of it as opaci-T. Or you can think of it as like Transparency, or whatever, but that's what the keyboard short-cut is for opacity. So if I hit 'T' then I only see opacity. That's it. Just opacity. So clean. So nice, just.. And it felt so easy too. Hit 'T' again, and it disappears. 'T' opacity; 'T' gone. 'T' opacity, there we go. 'R' is for Rotation. 'A' is for Anchor point. 'P' is for position. 'S' is for scale. So I have access to the five basic transforms at all times. And no matter what else is going on with your layer, no matter what other attributes are on it, or properties are opened up, and effects, and blah blah blah ... And how messy the interface is, just pushing that one letter, and then all of a sudden you just see that one attribute. So scale is showing, but if I just press off of rotation, scale is gone, and it shows me rotation. It's pretty clean. It's pretty clear. I like that. So I'm gonna go back to 'T' for opacity; and talk about this value. Now, if I put my cursor over this 100%, you see again these adorable little emojis, dude I'm telling you these cursors, they kill me every time, they're so cute. Look at that cute little hand. So, anyways, you get a little hand icon with the double sided arrows on either side. So you have the hand, and you have like the double sided arrows. And that indicates something called 'hot text'. Whenever you see text that's blue in After Effects, that's what we call hot text. And hot text is pretty cool. So I put my cursor over it, and I can click and just drag, and scrub this value. And you can see that lightning changing as I click and scrub this. P.S. This hot text scrubbing thing is so fun, that like, everyone started whining to the Photoshop team, and they're like 'Put it in here, come on guys'; And so you'll see this all over Photoshop, but a lot of people that are Photoshop users, that don't own After Effects, don't know that it exists. So in Photoshop, you can put your hand over like opacity, and text size, and little things like that and you'll get this little, like scrubby thing. And you can just, like click and scrub. And it increases your Photoshop love immensely. So, be aware that that exists. Another cool thing about this, is that I can actually click into these hot text fields, and manually type in stuff. So I can manually type in like 23%. And I can do that. It can also have decimal points. Like 'I want 23.842%'. And it rounds up for you, but if I click in there, there's my 23.842%. Now if I wanted to, I could click; I just clicked my right arrow, my right cursor, to put my cursor at the end of this. You can also do math. Which is really really fun. And you're like 'O.K., well I want this twice as bright, twice as opaque.' I could do '*' for times two. And now I have whatever that crazy number was times two. I don't have to do the math. And this isn't the case in a lot of Adobe apps, which is really nifty. Or let's say that I have 47.684 divided by three. I could do '/' three. And it will divide that by three for me. And so being able to do, just, like, little calculations, you could also do '+', plus seven. Or minus... Or whatever. So, add, subtract, multiply, and divide, you can do in these hot text fields. Many decimal places, and it's great. You get very, very, very specific. So I'm just going to take this back to 100%. That's opacity, that's how we work with opacity. Now, let's talk about somethin' else. It's going to get a little bit more awesome, and informative from here. I want to play with this sword, so I'm gonna scroll up, and I find the sword layer. And the other properties, I'm just gonna hit 'T' for opacity; But them I'm gonna hit... I wanna see all the properties again, so what I can do is hold the 'Shift' key while I'm using the T-R-A-P-S keyboard shortcut to see multiple properties, and so the other ones won't disappear. So I can hit Shift+R, Shift+A, Shift+P, Shift+S. And now I can see all of those properties at once again, which is really cool. The rest of these properties... Depend on something called the Anchor Point. They all use the anchor point. Opacity doesn't; so I guess I could just get rid of opacity. But, rotation, scale, and position, are all predicated upon the anchor point. The anchor point is the center of the transformation. And it's seen here, by the circle, with this kind of plus on the outside of it. So this here is the anchor point. So if I were to go to rotation, and I'll explain the rotation property in just a second, I'm just skipping ahead a little bit; But if I click and drag on rotation, it rotates around that anchor point. But that's not what I want for this sword. I don't want the sword to come out of his hand, well maybe I would at some point, and if it was flying off the screen, then going around its own center of mass would be great. But while it's in his hand, I don't want it spinning around that... He'll get cut. I don't want his hand to get cut. So I'm going to hit command+z, or control+z, to undo that. What I need to do is adjust the anchor point, to put it right here, which is the fulchrom. The point at which that transformation happens. Now, you might be tempted to see this anchor point value, and be like 'Oh yay! I'll just adjust the anchor point as one does.' And no, no, that's not the way that... It's really screwy how this works. 'Cause they're 'OK I'm gonna move this anchor point down,' and you start fiddling with these properties, and your point stays exactly where it is. And then 'Whoa! Where's my sword? This is not what I signed up for.' But, what I can do is, go here to the Pan Behind tool. So I'm gonna come here to this thingy. Right here, it's called the Pan Behind tool. I don't know why. Actually I do know why, but it's... you never use it for panning behind. But I'm gonna click this tool. And I can then click and drag. You see that my icon is a little bit different? It's constantly letting me know that I'm with this tool now. I'm using this tool that has this anchor point. So now I can click and drag this. Put it in the right spot. Then I want to go back immediately to my regular selection tool. Unless you're doing something very specific, you'll want to be on this selection tool. The selection tool, this little arrow here, the black arrow, is like the Swiss army knife tool that does everything in After Effects. If you're not using it, and you try just going about your business, in After Effects, you're going to get frustrated really, really quickly. So that's one way to move the anchor, to adjust the anchor point. Now if you look all throughout the interface, in After Effects, all throughout the After Effects interface if you get these little... You hold your mouse somewhere, you'll get these tool tips. See that pan behind anchor point tool. And then you'll see a letter in parenthesis usually. And what that letter is, what that thing in parenthesis is, is the keyboard shortcut for that tool. So as you can see here, the keyboard shortcut for the pan behind tool is the letter 'Y'. So if I were to come over here and hit the letter 'Y', you can see now that I'm using the Pan Behind tool. Well that's really convenient. But, it's not quite convenient enough. I'm gonna undo the anchor point thing. And I want to show you how I normally adjust the anchor point. All those methods work. Clicking the tool works, clicking the keyboard short-cut tool works. This is how I prefer to do it. The keyboard shortcut of 'Y'; if instead of tapping it once and selecting the tool, if I instead hold it down, I will temporarily toggle that tool. And while I'm holding it down, I will be using that tool. And then watch this, this is so cool. I move this to the hand. Now I'm done with the tool. I'm still holding, still holding the 'Y'. I let go of the 'Y'. Boom.(Pen drops) Back to where I was. That is amazing. Not the pen falling on the ground, but the anchor point thing. That's the amazing thing that I was referring to. So now, when I adjust rotation, there we go. He's waving his sword in the air. As if he didn't care. (chuckles) Let's talk about rotation. So this, this value's a little weird. It's like... It looks like 0X+0.0 degrees. It's a little confusing. Here's how this works. Most of the time, you really want to be concerned with the right of these two values. There's really two values here. And so if I click and drag this to the right, we're going to be increasing the angle of this. Again, around the anchor point. If I take this to a negative value, we're going to be going counter-clockwise. So positive is clockwise, counter-clockwise... (chuckles)...hard not to do this. It's so cute. So the negative value goes over counter-clockwise, positive goes clock-wise. And so then you might be wondering, 'Well what's this other little do-hicky doing over here?' This is the number of full rotations. So if I were to say one, or fiddle with this however many times, we don't see any change, and that's because if you have something that's like this, and then you add a full rotation to it, it still looks like that. So you only use that first value when you animate the rotation. So only when you animate, do those revolutions really come in handy. Because one full revolution, looks exactly like 20 full revolutions if you're not going to animate it. So that's how that works. So I'm going to zero this out. And I'm going to switch over to the super hero scene here. Super hero scene. And I want to go to the kapow. The kapow. And, that is the technical name that Joanna gave to the explosion thingy in the back. The kapow. So what I want to do is adjust the scale, so I'm gonna select kapow. The anchor point is about in the right spot. That's really what you want to do before you do anything, you want to get the anchor point really in the right spot. Before you start fiddling with stuff. Because, especially if you start animating, and then you have to adjust the anchor point afterwards. It could really mess things up. So first things first, if you're going to start adjusting a layer, especially one of these five basic transforms, other than opacity, get the anchor point in the right spot first. So I'm gonna hit 'S' for scale. And you'll notice that we have two values here. We have 100% and 100%. A little comma in-between. And this little chain thing. Well, if we click and drag on this, we can scale this up. And you'll notice that both of those numbers moving in tandem. If I were to click this little chain, then I would adjust the x scale: the horizontal scale, and the vertical scale independently. So now I can click on this and adjust this this way, if I... No I don't like that at all. But just, for the sake of demonstration, I could adjust this vertically, horizontally adjust the scale that way. Clicking this, links these two, so that they adjust proportionately. If I did want this to be flat, I could shrink that value, and then link them. And now when I resize them, it stays flat because they are linked. It links that ratio. Gonna undo that by hitting command+z a bunch of times. But let me just say this really quick: For those of you that are illustrator users, or are going to be using illustrator artwork; Which is a very common workflow for motion graphics designers, they get art from a designer, usually in illustrator. Illustrator has some special magic powers guys. So if I blew this up really really big. Just like, you know, you've been on the internet for a while, you've seen jpegs, you start blowing stuff up, we're at 264%, and we start getting these jaggy lines. Right? 'Cause that's what happens when you blow stuff up. Well the way that illustrator art works, it's vector based. Which means that it's designed with math, and not with pixels. When you bring in illustrator art into After Effects, it approximates that with pixels, but, you can have it go back to the source material and make it vector and blah blah blah blah blah, a bunch of techy stuff, basically what that means is that you can have this perfectly sharp. If I come down here there's this column right here, of this little thing called continuously rasterize. If I click this little tiny check box right here, again this is only going to be for illustrator art this is going to work. You can't take a photo of your, ya know, grandparents and bring it in here and make it perfect. It doesn't work like that. So this is only for illustrator art, but if I click this again, watch, watch this when I click this button, watch this edge. Click this. Boom. Razor sharp. So I could scale this up to a gabajillion percent, and it will still be razor sharp. Because it's using math to determine those edges, and not pixels. And that's the magic of using illustrator art with After Effects. Now we'll take this to 100%. That's enough about scale. I'm actually going to undo this a bunch. There we go. And just basically keep in mind, I'm just going to show you this real quick. I'm going to hold 'Y'. I'm gonna move the anchor point. Scale, again, works off of the anchor point. So, anchor point doesn't have to be on the object. So, now my anchor point's way over here. My kapow is right here, you can see the bounding box... The limits of its boundaries here. The anchor point is off - away from that, and... I can scale it up now, and it goes this way. It doesn't scale up from the center, it scales up from that point of transformation, from the anchor point. So this is really, really critical to understand when Working with After Effects... OK. Now, final, I'm going to go to P for Position. I'm going to move Stu himself, and we're going to talk about position- Actually, let's go to the Hero control... I'm going to hit P for Position. There are also two properties for position, just like we saw with scale. There are two dimensions here: X and Y. 'X' is left to right. So if I click on this value, we move Stu left and right. Super Stu, and then if we click on the right value... Which is the 'Y' value, up and down... We move him up and down. Now, it can be helpful, it might be a little technical, so just kind of, you know, bear with me, if this is too technical for you, but I find it really helpful to understand, what... What these numbers come from, and, basically, the zero-zero of the coordinates is the upper left-hand corner. So this value is saying that the anchor-point of this layer is 960 pixels over, because that's the X-axis, that's the first one, over from this edge, and 540 pixels down, from this edge. And that's where that's getting calculated. So, that's what this point is, it's 960 over and 540 down. So, if I want to move it to the right, I increase the 'X' value. If I want to move it to the left, I decrease it. Same thing with 'Y', as I increase Y, we go down, as I decrease Y, we go up, because we get closer and closer to that zero-zero in the upper left-hand corner. Now, we've been working on illustrated layers, because this art is adorable, and I love it, but if I brought in a video-clip, like the gorilla clip, it would automatically have the same transforms, if you have text, it has the same transforms. We'll talk about shape layers. We'll talk about solids. All those things, by default, automatically have these values applied. Audio doesn't, because there's no, like rotation for audio, but, all visual layers will have these attributes. So it really pays, no matter what your workflow is, or what you're using After Effects for, it really pays to be able to get those five basic transforms down. And that's the five basic properties in a nutshell.

Class Description

Knowing how to utilize the tools and opportunities in After Effects® can take your video from amateur to professional. Award-winning filmmaker and author Chad Perkins will help you get started with utilizing this motion software. This course covers the basics of starting a project and how to make the most of the many ways to bring life to a video. You’ll learn:

  • How to start a project and create a composition
  • Working with layers
  • Creating text
  • Understanding animation
  • Working with textures and shapes
  • Creating 3D motion with lighting and camera
  • Compositing techniques

Learn to enhance your video projects by animating text or creating transitional effects with this quick start into Adobe® After Effects® CC®.

Software used: Adobe® After Effects® CC®


a Creativelive Student

If you want to get into learning AE. Watch this video first. I've watched many AE tutorials and I still had many 'why' questions. Chad is great and explaining things and even uses great analogies​ so you understand what is going on. I highly recommend it. Thank you.

Chaka Akbar

Excellent introduction to After Effects. Definitely delivers on being a quick start to the features and capabilities of the software. Chad's passion and enthusiasm really shines through.

Nicholas Jacobson

Chad is an incredible teacher. He makes what would seem like daunting projects and tasks to the common person become both possible and even simple! He keeps his audience engaged by taping into one's inner child of creativity. Keep your hand hovering over the pause button because this presentation is crammed full of incredible information. Thanks again, Chad and all the folks at CreativeLive in Seattle!