Using Dynamic Link with After Effects
Adobe After Effects is the tool of choice for editors who want to produce exciting and innovative motion graphics, visual effects, and animated text for film, video, DVD, and the Web.
Adobe After Effects users tend to fall into two distinct camps: motion-graphics artists and animated-text artists. Some production houses specialize in one or the other. After Effects can do so much that it will be hard to wrap your brain around all of it. You are likely to use only a subset of its creative prospects.
Surveying After Effects features
After Effects has numerous options:
Text creation and animation tools: Create animated text with unprecedented ease. After Effects offers dozens of groundbreaking text animation presets. Simply drag them to your text to see them in action.
Leading-edge visual effects: More than 150 effects and compositing features enhance your images well beyond the capabilities of Adobe Premiere Pro.
Vector paint tools: Use built-in vector paint tools based on Adobe Photoshop technology to perform touch-up and rotoscoping tasks.
Comprehensive masking tools: Easily design, edit, and work with masks using flexible autotracing options.
Tight Adobe integration: Copy and paste assets, compositions, or sequences between Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects. Preserve layers and other attributes when you import Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator files. The Adobe Dynamic Link feature (remember, available only in Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium) means you will not need to render an Adobe After Effects composition before moving it between Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro or Encore.
Motion Tracker: This option accurately, quickly, and automatically maps the motion of an element and lets you add an effect to follow that action.
Looking at the Adobe After Effects workspace
In this exercise, you will animate the same lower third graphic that you did at the beginning of this lesson. You will import the same Photoshop file into Adobe After Effects, use After Effects tools to animate the three layers of the graphic, and then use Adobe Dynamic Link to link the After Effects animation into the Adobe Premiere Pro Timeline.
- In Adobe Premiere Pro, open Lesson 19-2.prproj.
- Launch Adobe After Effects.
- In After Effects, open the finished.aep file by choosing File > Open Project and selecting finished.aep from the Lesson 19 folder.
Notice the many similarities to the Adobe Premiere Pro user interface.
As with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects has a Project panel, but the icons and terminology are a bit different. For instance, Adobe Premiere Pro sequences become compositions in After Effects.
Double-clicking a composition (as shown here) opens it in the Timeline panel. Instead of tracks, you work with layers in Adobe After Effects.
- Scrub the Adobe After Effects Timeline to see the final animation you will create.
- After Effects may not be able to play back the animation in real time, depending on your computer speed. However, After Effects can do a RAM preview when you press the 0 (zero) key on the numeric keypad or click the RAM preview button in the playback controls. This renders the Timeline to RAM and then plays it back smoothly in real time.
- Close finished.aep by choosing File > Close Project.
Animating the lower third
In this exercise, you will start a new project in After Effects and create the animation you just saw in the finished example.
- With After Effects still open, import the lower third.psd file by choosing File > Import File and selecting lower third.psd from the Lesson 19 folder. Change the Import As parameter from Footage to Composition, and click Open.
- A dialog will open where you can specify the kind of composition import. Accept the default, as shown here, and click OK.
- Double-click the lower third composition icon in the Project panel to open the composition in the Timeline.
- Notice the Adobe Photoshop CS5 layers are intact and in the correct order in the Timeline. Scrub the Timeline, and you will see this is a static graphic. No animation has been applied yet. Return the current-time indicator to the beginning of the clip.
- Locate the Effects & Presets panel on the right, and expand the * Animation Presets folder. Within that folder, expand the Transitions – Movement folder. Drag the “Zoom – 3D tumble” preset to the Lower Third bg layer of the Timeline.
- Do a RAM preview of this effect by pressing the 0 (zero) key on the numeric keypad.
Next you will animate the logo.
- Position the current-time indicator at the one-second mark, just as the lower third background animation is finishing.
- Drag the Slide – Swoop preset (located in the Transitions – Movement folder) to the Film Reel layer. RAM preview the Timeline.
After Effects has some dazzling animation presets designed especially for text. These animations are aware of individual characters, words, or lines of text. You’ll use one of these text effects on the text layer. However, because you didn’t create the text in Adobe After Effects, After Effects doesn’t know the layer is text. You need to tell After Effects that the top layer (Behind the Scenes) is text.
- Select layer 2 (the Behind the Scenes text layer), and choose Layer > Convert to Editable Text. Now Adobe After Effects will treat this layer as text that can be edited and animated with special text effects or presets. After Effects indicates this is a text layer by showing a T icon to the left of the layer name.
- Position the current-time indicator at the one-second mark on the Timeline.
- In the Effects & Presets panel, expand the Text folder within the *Animation Presets folder. Within the Text folder, expand the Animate In folder, and drag the Raining Characters In preset to the Behind the Scenes text layer in layer 2.
- Do a RAM preview.
- Save the project by choosing File > Save. Save the project in the Lesson 19 folder, and name it ae practice.aep.
Importing a project from Adobe After Effects to Adobe Premiere Pro using Adobe Dynamic Link
With the animation complete, it’s time to use it in your Adobe Premiere Pro project, superimposed over the behind-the-scenes clip. In the past, this would have involved rendering the animation out to a movie, importing the movie into Adobe Premiere Pro, and then placing it in the Timeline. If you ever wanted to change the animation, you would have to edit the movie in Adobe After Effects, rerender it, and re-export it, which would be very time-consuming. With Dynamic Link, the process is much simpler.
- Leave Adobe After Effects open, and open or switch back to Adobe Premiere Pro.
It is not necessary to leave After Effects open for Adobe Dynamic Link to work, but you will be editing the animation again, so to save time here, you will leave it open.
- In Adobe Premiere Pro, open Lesson 19-2.prproj, and then open the Lower Third sequence.
- Drag Behind_The_Scenes_SD.avi from the bin to the Video 1 track.
- Import the After Effects composition you just made via Dynamic Link by choosing File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import After Effects Composition.
- On the left side of the Import Composition dialog, navigate to the Lesson 19 folder, select ae practice.aep, select the ae_practice composition in the right window, and click OK.
- This adds the lower third/ae practice composition to the Adobe Premiere Pro Project panel. Drag it to the Video track above
the Behind the Scenes clip.
Position it about one second after the start of the interview. Trim the end of the ae_practice composition so it is about seven seconds long.
- As a nice finish, add a Cross Dissolve transition to the end of the lower third Dynamic Link clip so it dissolves away.
- Render and play the sequence in Adobe Premiere Pro.
You now have an After Effects animation playing in Adobe Premiere Pro—and you didn’t need to render or export the animation in After Effects. This is a real timesaving feature. The power of this feature becomes more obvious when you need to edit or tweak your animation.
Editing an existing dynamically linked animation
In this exercise, you will make an adjustment to the animation in After Effects to show the dynamic nature of this feature:
- Leave the project open in Adobe Premiere Pro, and switch to After Effects, which should still be open, with the lower third composition open.
- Set the current-time indicator position to the beginning of the After Effects Timeline.
- In the Effects & Presets panel, expand the Backgrounds folder, which is inside the * Animation Presets folder.
- Drag the Silk preset to the Lower Third bg layer. Do a RAM preview to see this effect.
- Without saving the After Effects project, switch back to Adobe Premiere Pro.
- Play the sequence in Adobe Premiere Pro. Without saving the After Effects project, the changes you made in Adobe After Effects are already updated in Adobe Premiere Pro. That’s why they call it Dynamic Link!