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Getting to Know the After Effects CS3 Workflow

Article Description

Whether you use After Effects to animate a simple DVD title sequence or to create complex special effects, you generally follow the same basic workflow. The Adobe Creative Team demonstrates how to use this workflow to create a simple animated video.

Previewing Your Work

You're probably eager to see the results of your work. After Effects provides several methods for previewing compositions, including standard preview, RAM preview, and manual preview (for a list of manual preview controls, see After Effects Help). All three methods are accessible through the Time Controls panel, which appears on the right side of the application window in the standard workspace.

Using Standard Preview

Standard preview (commonly called a spacebar preview) plays the composition from the current-time indicator to the end of the composition. Standard previews usually play more slowly than real time. They're useful when your composition is simple or in its early stages and doesn't require additional memory for displaying complex animations, effects, 3D layers, cameras, and lights. Let's use it now to preview the text animation.

  1. In the bgwtext Timeline panel, make sure that the video switch (the icon looks like an eye, as shown in Figure 37) is selected for the layers that you want to preview—in this case, the Title Here and Background layers.
  2. Press the Home key to go to the beginning of the time ruler.
  3. Click the Play/Pause button (shown in Figure 38) in the Time Controls panel, or press the spacebar. Repeat this action to stop the standard preview.

Using RAM Preview

RAM preview allocates enough RAM to play the preview (with audio) as fast as the system allows, up to the frame rate of the composition. Use RAM preview to play footage in the Timeline, Layer, or Footage panel. The number of frames played depends on the amount of RAM available to the application.

In the Timeline panel, RAM preview plays either the span of time you specify as the work area, or from the beginning of the time ruler. In the Layer and Footage panels, RAM preview plays only untrimmed footage. Before you preview, check which frames are designated as the work area.

In the following steps, you'll preview the entire composition—the animated text plus graphic effects—using a RAM preview.

  1. Click the bgwtext 2 Timeline panel to bring it forward.
  2. Make sure that the video switch is turned on for all of the layers in the composition, and press F2 to deselect all layers.
  3. Drag the work area brackets to the time span you want to preview. The work area start bracket should be at 0:00, and the work area end bracket should be at 10:00, as shown in Figure 39.
  4. Drag the current-time indicator to the beginning of the time ruler, or press the Home key.
  5. Click the RAM Preview button (shown in Figure 40) in the Time Controls panel, or choose Composition > Preview > RAM Preview.

    A green progress bar indicates which frames are cached to RAM. When all of the frames in the work area are cached, the RAM preview plays back in real time.

  6. To stop the RAM preview, press the spacebar.
  7. Choose File > Save to save your project.
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