Basics in Controlling Text Animation in After Effects

by Garrett Fallin on July 3, 2014

after effects cs51 300x296 Basics in Controlling Text Animation in After Effects

Text animation is everywhere in film and TV. Text controls exist in nearly every post production and image manipulation software ranging from entry level NLEs such as iMovie, to Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Nuke, Cinema 4D, Maya, Avid, and more. We will be exploring After Effects today in its ability to:

  • Create and Manipulate Basic Text Form
  • Animate Text Using Position, Scale, and Rotation
  • Additional Resources and Plug Ins

CREATE AND MANIPULATE BASIC TEXT FORM

Start by creating a new COMPOSITION. Observe on the right hand side the TAB labeled CHARACTERS.

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This CHARACTER WINDOW will be what we use to control the TEXT we write with. Starting from the top and working down, this window allows you to choose the FONT, line variation, color, size, spacing, stroke, height, and width.

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Once you have adjusted the settings to what you feel will be the best fit, go up to the tool bar and select the TEXT TOOL (CMD+T).

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Click inside your COMPOSITION and type out your text. If you find you want to make further adjustments, highlight your text and inside the CHARACTER WINDOW you can make the necessary adjustments in order to create your desired text layout.

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ANIMATE TEXT USING POSITION, SCALE, AND ROTATION

When first learning how to control text, one must learn to keyframe the text and control simple 2D functions such as Position, Scale, and Rotation. POSITION – when you have your text layer selected in the layers window, hit ‘P’ on the keyboard. Position is what controls the location of your text in the composition and how it moves throughout the timeline. In order to create a KEYFRAME, you must CLICK the STOPWATCH icon next to POSITION under your TEXT in the LAYERS WINDOW.

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Once you CLICK the STOPWATCH, a yellow diamond will appear on your TIMELINE.

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If you move further down the timeline, and then move your text’s POSITION in the COMPOSITION, you will notice another KEYFRAME appears on the TIMELINE marking the POSITION at that exact moment. As you add more keyframes in your composition, you will also notice a TRACK will be generated showing you where your text’s position is moving over time.

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SCALE – when you have your text layer selected in the layers window, hit ‘S’ on the keyboard. Scale is what controls the size of your text throughout the timeline. For instance, if you want your text to be very small and slowly grow larger over time, you would set a keyframe early in the timeline with the scale set on a lower number, move down the timeline and increase the scale number. Depending on how close or far away the keyframes are on the timeline will dictate how fast or slow the scaling will take place.

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ROTATION – when you have your text layer selected in the layers window, hit ‘R’ on the keyboard. Rotation is what controls the text’s angle throughout the timeline. If you want your text to spin and twirl as it emerges, or even simply be displayed at a 90 degree angle, then the rotation is what you need to control. Just like position and scale, rotation is controlled throughout the timeline by setting a series of keyframes. Here, rotation is measured in degrees, and as you increase the number, it will range up to 360 and then clock over to one, signifying one complete rotation, and so on.

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Stay tuned as I cover more advanced techniques of animating text, including fade on and off, opacity, and using Z space to create 3D Depth and movement.

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Practical FCPX Tutorials

by kesakalaonu on April 24, 2014

FCPX logo 1 410x410 Practical FCPX Tutorials

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about tutorials, is that they can teach you skills you wouldn’t have known unless by trial and error… or luck. I can honestly say that my skill set comes from what I’ve learned from various tutorials. However, many tutorial authors advise that you use skills you learn from their tutorials as a launchpad to real world and practical situations. Just because a tutorial can show you which buttons or commands to use in a program, doesn’t mean that it will teach you how to be a better storyteller. I do believe that there are people who offer practical tutorials for everyday, real world situations that you may encounter as an editor. In particular, I’ve come across many talented editors who have shared practical tips when it comes to using Final Cut Pro X, as well as Motion. Ever since its release, people have spent more time defending its editing capabilities, versus showing why it’s faster to utilize its workflow. I’m going to highlight some FCPX editors who have willingly shared practical tips and workflows when using Final Cut Pro X.

Chris Fenwick (Digital Cinema Cafe & FCP X Grill)

No one I know has put more effort in showcasing and highlighting how much depth Final Cut Pro X has more than Chris Fenwick. As the senior editor for Slice Editorial (and host of two of my favorite industry podcasts, Digital Cinema Cafe & FCP X Grill) Chris has created a plethora of practical FCP X tutorials he has discovered through his work and experimentation. Below are three tutorials that I personally found helpful in adopting the workflow of FCPX.

In each of these tutorials, you learn something that can be implemented immediately on any project. The “Poor Man’s” dynamic link, as Chris calls it, is great for folks who use After Effects for their motion graphics work and need a workaround for swapping out updated elements without doing a lot of importing. The multicam trick he shows using compound clips to achieve the CNN look, while still being able to cut to different angles like a technical director, is brilliant. Trying to do it any other way now would seem like a time consuming and a frustrating endeavor. Being able to swap out lower thirds, like Dustin Hoye does in the last video, is incredible. Knowing that I can type in the information I need for a subject, and change the look while maintaining the information with ease, is something that will aid in tight deadlines. Tips like these would convince me of the power and ease of a FCPX workflow.

Michael Garber (Garbershop)

Michael Garber is a talented freelance video editor with many years of using Final Cut Pro legacy, and he’s one of the foremost authorities when it comes to Final Cut Pro X. He has written many articles highlighting how his workflow has been accelerated, thanks to learning the features that FCPX has to offer. In this video below, Michael shares a tip for editing audio bits in the magnetic timeline by creating a secondary storyline. By using this technique, the audio segments you edit won’t shift should you need to add an additional piece of footage. Also, the secondary storyline acts as a placeholder for adding additional audio down the line.

Brett Gentry (BeatusMongous)

Brett is a Las Vegas editor/post production manager I discovered recently who cuts content for Telemundo. In his tutorials, he demonstrates techniques in Final Cut Pro X that allow him to cut multiple spots and commercials in very little time. In the two videos below, Brett showcases how utilizing Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5 workflow has allowed him get through projects at an efficient pace.

In the first tutorial, Brett shows us how he was able to emulate the look of a commercial for a law firm that aired in English utilizing the FCPX keyer, simple transitions/effects, stock footage, and custom Motion templates. I believe the only people who have done something on this scale are the folks of Ripple Training with their FCPX promo training course. In the second tutorial, Brett shows us how to create a keyer template effect for clients you may deal with on regular basis. He creates three effects to deal with the multiple camera edits of two tight shots and a wide shot. With these templates, Brett is able to cut similar segments of the same client in very little time. This technique is definitely something I wish I knew about when these programs were released. With the amount of green screen work editors deal with these days, knowing I can create something like this between Motion and FCPX would definitely convince a wayward user of the power of this workflow.

Overall, I believe these editors have provided some great tips and workflows for Final Cut Pro X that would have only been discovered through trial and error, or by purchasing a course. I’ve talked with FCPX editors who have told me how much faster they have become since using the program, but not many of them want to share tips like these gentlemen have. Maybe in time, the FCPX community will provide more practical tutorials like these to really champion how professional and timesaving the FCPX/Motion workflow is.

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Editing for the Horror Genre

by Garrett Fallin on October 29, 2013

Jacko smaller Editing for the Horror Genre

The horror genre in film is just as old as cinema itself; starting with silent films back in the late 1890s, through the masterpieces of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Stanley Kubrick’s depiction of The Shining (based on Stephen King’s novel), to more recent films such as The Conjuring. Every Halloween you see an increase in horror films being released to the public, that point should be obvious. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly what makes up a horror film? On the surface, you know a horror film is supposed to invoke terror or fear within you. However, there are specific techniques and timeless elements that are seamlessly woven into these films that make you cover your eyes and make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. To get in the right mindset, take a gander at the finest moments from these horror movies:

As a filmmaker, you should be aware of some of the basic pieces of the horror puzzle. Not everything relies on how good of a scream your actor has, or how well the make up and costume on your monster looks. A good horror film first starts on paper with a solid story as a foundation. From there, it moves into the camera, the acting, and then down through post production – where I feel the real magic occurs.

Outlined below are three foundational elements every editor should have at their disposal for any horror film:

  • Color
  • Sound
  • Perspective

 

COLOR

On the set, gaffers and light technicians are in charge of creating the core atmosphere for each scene; whether it be something with high contrast, or just dark enough for a creature to creep out of the shadows. Sometimes, a filter will be put on the lens to add or enhance a specific color in the scene. Generally, a blue or green filter would be used with horror films. However, in-camera lighting can only go so far. These days, I find there is no filter added on the camera because you can change the color so easily in post production. The director may want to play around with an assortment of colors and hues to achieve their desired effect. In these instances, CURVES is an editor’s best friend.

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Curves can be found in most Non Linear Editing (NLE) programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premier Pro, and Avid. It can also be found in compositing programs such as After Effects and Nuke. Generally, the option will be under some type of IMAGE CONTROL menu or COLOR CORRECTION menu – if you cannot find it, I recommend consulting the Help Menu. Using Curves gives you control of an image’s highlights, shadows, and the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color spectrum. If you receive editing notes from the director asking you to “push the image further,” generally, they mean to increase the shadows or contrast. A term they use for this in editing is “crush the blacks.” To do this, click and drag your curve to the proper settings of adjustment. By rule of thumb, blacks are located in the lower right and highlights are located in the upper left of the curve.

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If the director wants to increase a color tone, use the drop down menu to select the color of choice – whether they want to add more blue or green into the footage, respectively.

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SOUND

You sometimes cover your eyes during a horror movie, but most of the time you forget to cover your ears. Even if you can’t see the horrific image, you can still hear the bones crack, the blood spray, and the victim let out one last shriek or a dying breath. A lot of the sound effects are created by Foley Artists (the people who create sounds used in movies). For example, a foley artist would record the sound of a machete slashing a watermelon into little bits to be used where the serial killer slashes a victims skull into little bits. In larger budget films, a foley team is generally hired to produce the sound content for the film, supplying the editor with the appropriate sounds to populate the movie. However, in smaller, or micro budget films, the editor needs to turn to online sound libraries for this content. There are websites out there filled with random sounds, music loops, and scores – sometimes free – to populate your horror film. There are literally hundreds of these websites all over the internet. However, some websites I have had good luck with and recommend include:

 

PERSPECTIVE

This one tends to be less obvious to most editors just starting out in the field. Perspective plays a large part in creating a horrific landscape, or an uneasy tension. Often times, the director of photography will partner up with the director to explore the ‘look’ of the film, mapping out the best camera angles and shots to best achieve the directors vision. In some cases, the director will need the editor to adjust a scene or image to help intensify the scene. The easiest way to add tension to a plain scene is by rotating the image on a angle.

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By putting the perspective on an angle you subconsciously tell the viewer that “something isn’t right.” People like to see their world on an even playing field, and when you start to mess with that perspective, you begin making the viewer uncomfortable and on edge.

There you have it! A solid foundation in editing for the horror genre. Do you know of another horror element you would like to share or know of a link that could help out your fellow editor? Leave it in the comment section below!

 

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