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Adobe After Effects CS4 Visual Effects and Compositing Studio Techniques

Book Description

This is the only book in the After Effects market to focus exclusively on the creation of visual effects, and is a one-stop resource for anyone who wants in-depth explanations that demystify the realm of visual effects and how they were created, thanks to veteran author Mark Christiansen's friendly and accessible style. A thoroughly packed, informative read, this masterful guide focuses on explaining the essential concepts, features, and techniques that are key to creating seamless movie-quality visual effects. Users who are comfortable with After Effects will find a helpful review of After Effects fundamentals—managing footage, viewing and editing layers, animating type, and more—so they can learn how to work smarter and more efficiently. Readers of all levels will learn core techniques for effects compositing including color matching, keying, rotoscoping, motion tracking, emulating the camera, and concluding with using expressions in After Effects, written by contributor and expert Dan Ebberts. The final section of the book delves into creative explorations, demonstrating professional effects that readers might want to re-create.

Readers will also find comprehensive coverage of all that's new and makes this version of Adobe’s effects program such a boon to video pros of all stripes: searchable timelines and projects, Photoshop 3D layers import, the Cartoon effect, Imagineer Systems’ Mocha for Adobe After Effects, improved workflow for mobile devices, and more.

Throughout the book, beautiful full-color examples demonstrate what's possible, while the companion DVD offers demos of After Effects CS4, sample footage, and software plug-ins.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. About the Author
  3. About the Contributors
  4. Acknowledgments
  5. Foreword
    1. Who Brings the Sex?
    2. Did It Feel Just Like It Should?
    3. Was It Good for You?
    4. Lights On or Off?
    5. In Your Hands
    6. Bring It
  6. Introduction
    1. Why This Book?
      1. Some Key Steps
      2. Organization of this Book
      3. The Unique After Effects Workflow
      4. New in this Edition
      5. What’s on the DVD
      6. The Bottom Line
  7. Section I: Working Foundations
    1. 1. Composite in After Effects
      1. Workspaces and Panels
        1. Customize the Workspace
      2. Order Reduces Effort
        1. Import and Organize Source
        2. Context-Clicks (and Keyboard Shortcuts)
        3. Missing Footage
          1. Move, Combine, and Consolidate Projects
        4. Advanced Save Options
      3. Project, Footage, and Composition Settings
        1. Project Settings
        2. Interpret Footage
          1. Alpha
          2. Frame Rate
          3. Fields, Pulldown, and Pixel Aspect Ratio
        3. Source Formats
          1. Photoshop Files
        4. Composition Settings
      4. Previews and View Panels
        1. Resolution and Quality
        2. Responsiveness
          1. Multiprocessing
        3. Caching and Previewing
          1. Preview Settings
          2. Backgrounds
      5. Effects & Presets
      6. Output via the Render Queue
        1. Render Settings: Match or Override the Comp
        2. Output Modules: Making Movies
          1. Optimized Output
      7. Study a Shot like an Effects Artist
    2. 2. The Timeline
      1. Organization
        1. Column Views
          1. Color Commentary
        2. Navigation and Shortcuts
          1. Time Navigation
          2. Make Layers Behave
          3. Timeline Views
      2. Keyframes and the Graph Editor
        1. Graph Editor
          1. Show Properties
          2. Basic Animation and the Graph View
          3. Ease Curves
          4. Separate XYX
          5. The Transform Box
          6. Holds
          7. Beyond Bouncing Balls
        2. Copy and Paste Animations
        3. Layer vs. Graph
      3. Über-duper
        1. Dissect a Project
        2. Keyframe Navigation and Selection
        3. Keyframe Offsets
      4. Spatial Offsets
        1. Anchor Point
        2. Parent Hierarchy
      5. Motion Blur
        1. Decoding After Effects Motion Blur
        2. Add, Do Not Subtract
      6. Manipulate Time
        1. Absolute (Not Relative) Time
        2. Time Stretch
          1. Frame Blending
          2. Nested Compositions
        3. Time Remap
        4. Timewarp
      7. Conclusion
    3. 3. Selections: The Key to Compositing
      1. Selection Types
        1. Matte
        2. Alpha Channel
        3. Mask
        4. Blending Mode
        5. Effect
        6. Combined Techniques
      2. Compositing: Science and Nature
        1. Bitmap Alpha
        2. Feathered Alpha
        3. Opacity
      3. Alpha Channels and Premultiplication
        1. Premultiplication Illustrated
        2. Get It Right on Import
        3. Solve the Problem Internally
      4. Masks
        1. Bézier Masks
        2. Shape Layers
      5. Combine Selections
        1. Overlapping Transparency
          1. Overlap Inverted Layers Seamlessly
      6. Masks in Motion
        1. Move, Copy, and Paste Masks
        2. First Vertex
      7. Blending Modes: Compositing Beyond Selections
        1. Add and Screen
        2. Multiply
        3. Overlay and the Light Modes
        4. Difference
        5. HSB and Color Modes
        6. Stencil, Silhouette, and Preserve Transparency
        7. Luminescent Premultiply
      8. Track Mattes
        1. Gotchas
        2. Render Order
      9. Conclusion
    4. 4. Optimize the Pipeline
      1. Multiple Compositions, Multiple Projects
        1. Project Templates
        2. Mini-Flowchart View
        3. More Ways to Manage Many Comps
          1. Precomping and Composition Nesting
        4. Why Precomp?
        5. Gotchas
          1. Boundaries of Time and Space
          2. Collapse Transformations
        6. Nested Time
          1. Advanced Composition Settings
      2. Adjustment and Guide Layers
        1. Adjustment Layers
        2. Guide Layers
      3. Render Pipeline
        1. Optimize Previews and Renders
          1. Post-Render Options
          2. Proxies and Pre-Renders
        2. Background Renders
          1. aerender
          2. Network Rendering
          3. Multiple After Effects Versions
          4. Watch Folder
          5. Adobe Media Encoder
      4. Project Optimization
        1. Setting Preferences and Project Settings
          1. Hack Shortcuts, Text Preferences, or Projects
          2. XML
        2. Memory Management
      5. Conclusion
  8. Section II: Effects Compositing Essentials
    1. 5. Color Correction
      1. Optimized Levels
        1. Levels
          1. Contrast: Input and Output Levels
          2. Brightness: Gamma
        2. Individual Channels for Color Matching
        3. The Levels Histogram
          1. Problem Solving Using the Histogram
        4. Perfecting Brightness with Curves
        5. Just for Color: Hue/Saturation
        6. More Color Tools and Techniques
          1. Color Finesse and Magic Bullet Looks
          2. Three-Way Color
      2. Color Matching
        1. The Fundamental Technique
          1. Ordinary Lighting
          2. Dramatic Lighting
          3. When There’s No Clear Reference
          4. Direction and Position
        2. Gamma Slamming
      3. Conclusion
    2. 6. Color Keying
      1. Good Habits and Best Practices
      2. Linear Keyers and Hi-Con Mattes
        1. The Extract and Linear Color Key
          1. Extract
          2. Linear Color Key
        2. Difference Mattes
          1. Luma Mattes
      3. Blue and Green Screen Keys
        1. Keylight
          1. The Three-Pass Method
      4. Get the Best Out of Keylight
        1. Generate the Screen Matte
          1. Screen Gain
          2. Screen Balance
          3. Bias
        2. Refinement
          1. Holes and Edges
          2. Noise Suppression
          3. Fringing and Choking
          4. Spill Suppression
      5. Beyond Keylight: Better Mattes
        1. On Set
        2. Matte Problems
          1. Edge Selection
          2. Close Holes
          3. Color Spill
      6. Conclusion
    3. 7. Rotoscoping and Paint
      1. Articulated Mattes
        1. Rotobeziers
      2. Beyond Built-in Limitations
        1. Tracking and Translating
        2. Mask Motion Blur
      3. Morph
        1. Reshape
          1. First Vertex and Target Mask
      4. Puppet
        1. More Tools
      5. Paint and Cloning
        1. Paint Fundamentals
        2. Cloning Fundamentals
          1. Tricks and Gotchas
          2. Wire Removal
          3. Dust Bust
      6. Conclusion
    4. 8. Effective Motion Tracking
      1. Point Tracking Essentials
        1. Choose a Feature
        2. Tweak the Tracker
          1. Position, Rotation, and/or Scale
          2. Confidence
        3. Solve Problems with Nulls
          1. Track Averaging and Mask Tracking
        4. Match Motion Blur
      2. Match Multiple Objects
        1. The AE Camera as a Tracking Tool
          1. 2.5D Tracking
      3. Stabilize a Moving Shot
      4. Incorporate MochaAE
        1. The Basics
        2. The Nitty Gritty
      5. Use Tracking with Expressions
        1. Continue Loop
      6. Import 3D Tracking Data
        1. 3D Tracking Data
          1. Import a Maya Scene
          2. Try It Out for Yourself
      7. Conclusion
    5. 9. The Camera and Optics
      1. Cameras: Virtual and Real
        1. See with the Camera
          1. Lens Settings
          2. Real Camera Settings
        2. Emulate a Real Camera
          1. The Camera Report
          2. Lens Distortion
        3. 2D and 3D
        4. Photoshop CS4 3D
      2. Storytelling and the Camera
        1. Camera Animation
          1. Push and Zoom
        2. Camera Projection
      3. Camera Blur
        1. Image Planes and Rack Focus
        2. Boke Blur
          1. Go for Boke
      4. The Role of Grain
        1. Grain Management Strategies
        2. Grain Removal
        3. When to Manage Grain
      5. Film and Video Looks
        1. Lens Artifacts Aren’t Just Accidents
          1. Lens Flares
          2. Vignettes
          3. Chromatic Aberration
        2. Frame Rate Isn’t Just Speed
        3. Format Isn’t Just Display Size
        4. Less Color Can Be More
      6. Conclusion
    6. 10. Expressions
      1. What Expressions Are
      2. Creating Expressions
      3. The Language of Expressions
      4. Linking an Effect Parameter to a Property
      5. Using a Layer’s Index
        1. Time Delay Based on Layer Index
      6. Looping Keyframes
      7. Using Markers
        1. Trigger Animation at Markers
        2. Play Only Frames with Markers
      8. Time Remapping Expressions
        1. Jittery Slow Motion
        2. Wiggle Time
        3. Random Time
      9. Layer Space Transforms
        1. Effect Tracks Parented Layer
        2. Apply 2D Layer as Decal onto 3D Layer
        3. Reduce Saturation Away From Camera
          1. Interpolation Methods
        4. Fade as Move Away From Camera
        5. From Comp Space to Layer Surface
      10. Color Sampling and Conversion
      11. Extra Credit
        1. Fade as Turn Away From Camera
        2. Audio Triggers Effect
      12. Conclusion
    7. 11. 32-Bit HDR Compositing and Color Management
      1. Color Management: Why Bother?
        1. Completely Optional
        2. Related and Mandatory
        3. A Pixel’s Journey Through After Effects
          1. 16-Bit-Per-Channel Composites
          2. Monitor Calibration
          3. Color Management: Disabled by Default
          4. Project Working Space
          5. Input Profile and MediaCore
          6. Display Management and Output Simulation
          7. Output Profile
          8. QuickTime
        4. To Bypass Color Management
      2. Film and Dynamic Range
        1. Film and Cineon
          1. Working with Cineon Files
        2. Dynamic Range
        3. Cineon Log Space
          1. Digital Film
        4. Video Gamma Space
      3. Linear Floating Point HDR
        1. HDR Source and Linearized Working Space
        2. 32 Bits per Channel
          1. Mixed Bit Depths and Compander
          2. Blend Colors Using 1.0 Gamma
          3. Output
      4. Conclusion
  9. Section III: Creative Explorations
    1. 12. Light
      1. Source and Direction
        1. Location and Quality
        2. Neutralize Direction and Hotspots
      2. Color Looks
        1. The Virtual Lens Filter
          1. Black and White
          2. Day for Night
        2. Color Timing Effects
      3. Source, Reflection, and Shadow
        1. Backlighting and Light Wrap
        2. Flares
          1. Reflected Light
        3. Light Scattering and Volume
        4. Shadows
          1. Contact Shadows and Indirect Light
      4. Multipass 3D Compositing
    2. 13. Climate and the Environment
      1. Particulate Matter
        1. Match an Environment
        2. Create an Environment
      2. Sky Replacement
        1. The Sky Is Not (Quite) a Blue Screen
        2. Infinite Depth
      3. Fog, Smoke, and Mist
        1. Masking and Adjusting
        2. Moving Through the Mist
      4. Billowing Smoke
        1. Mesh Warp
        2. Liquify
        3. Smoke Trails and Plumes
      5. Wind
        1. Adding and Articulating Elements
      6. Precipitation
        1. The Wet Look
        2. Create Precipitation
        3. Composite Precipitation
    3. 14. Pyrotechnics: Heat, Fire, Explosions
      1. Firearms
        1. The Shoot
          1. Muzzle Flash and Smoke
          2. Shells and Interactive Light
        2. Hits and Squibs
      2. Energy Effects
        1. Core and Decay
      3. Heat Distortion
        1. What Is Actually Happening
        2. How to Re-create It
      4. Fire
        1. Creating and Using Fire Elements
        2. All Fired Up
        3. Light Interacts
        4. Dimensionality
      5. Explosions
        1. Light and Chunky
      6. In a Blaze of Glory
  10. What’s on the DVD?