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Animating Layers in After Effects CS3

Article Description

Animation is all about making changes over time to an object or image's position, opacity, scale, and other properties. In this step-by-step exercise, the Adobe Creative Team explores some of the fun possibilities for animating a Photoshop file in After Effects CS3.

Adding a Lens Flare Effect

In photography, when bright light (such as sunlight) reflects off the lens of a camera, it causes a flare effect. Lens flares can be bright, colorful circles and halos, depending on the type of lens in the camera. After Effects offers a few lens flare effects. You'll add one now to enhance the realism of this time-lapse photography composition.

  1. Go to 5:10, where the sun is shining brightly into the lens of the camera.
  2. Choose Layer > New > Solid.
  3. In the Solid Settings dialog box, name the layer Lens Flare and click the Make Comp Size button. Then set the Color to black by clicking the swatch and setting the RGB values to 0 in the Color Picker dialog box. Click OK to close the Color Picker and return to the Solid Settings dialog box.
  4. Click OK to create the Lens Flare layer (see Figure 29).
  5. With the Lens Flare layer selected in the Sunrise Timeline panel, choose Effect > Generate > Lens Flare. The Composition panel and the Effect Controls panel display the visual and numeric default Lens Flare settings, respectively; you'll customize the effect for this composition.
  6. Drag the Flare Center crosshair icon in the Composition panel to the center of the sun. You cannot see the sun in the Composition panel; the x,y coordinates, which you can read in the Effect Controls or Info panel, are approximately 455, 135 (see Figure 30).
  7. In the Effect Controls panel, change the Lens Type to 35mm Prime, a more diffuse flare effect (see Figure 31).
  8. Make sure that you're still at 5:10. In the Effect Controls panel, click the stopwatch icon for the Flare Brightness property to set a keyframe at the default value of 100%.
  9. Now, adjust the brightness of the lens flare to peak when the sun is highest:
    • Go to 3:27 and set the Flare Brightness value to 0%.
    • Go to 6:27 and set the Flare Brightness value to 0%.
    • Go to 6:00 and set the Flare Brightness to 100%.
  10. Finally, with the Lens Flare layer selected in the Timeline panel, choose Layer > Blending Mode > Screen to change the blending mode to screen (see Figure 32).
  11. Press the Home key and then the spacebar to preview the lens flare effect. When you're done, press the spacebar again.
  12. Choose File > Save to save your project.
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