Tutorials:  After Effects

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S is for Stabilization
Using Adobe After Effects to fix strobing time-lapse footage
by Stephen Schleicher

Last time I discussed a way to capture time-lapse footage using a digital still camera for use in your digital masterpiece. This time I’ll discuss how to fix a problem that can arise in time-lapse footage.
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T is for Time-lapse
Digital still cameras offer options for video production
by Stephen Schleicher

The sun rises in 5 seconds, an orange decays before your eyes, and a storm comes rolling in, dumps rain and clears in mere moments. Are you tripping on that funny stuff from college again? Nope, just doing some time-lapse imaging for your next video production.
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Episode 6: Holograms
The low down on hologram creation
by Stephen Schleicher

You are sitting in your living room enjoying a beautiful binary sunset, when suddenly your hologram goes off. It’s a call from your brother-in-law wanting to say hello. What do you do? So set’s up the next installment of our Star Wars fan film production series.
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An Explosion To Remember
Using After Effects plug-ins to create an explosion
by Stephen Schleicher

The last time we left our heroes they had just discovered a bomb ticking away to destruction. As we join in this installment, we find them running full sprint, seeking shelter behind a car in the parking lot. Moments later, a large section of the building explodes in a fiery rain of debris. Whew! Safe...for now...
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Motion Tracking in Adobe After Effects 5.5
How to tweak settings to create realistic effects
by Stephen Schleicher

When Adobe first introduced motion tracking and stabilization in After Effects, many users were disappointed in some of the poor results they received. As AE improved over time, so did motion tracking and stabilization. By knowing which settings to tweak and how to manipulate the tracking data, After Effects generates results that may have those naysayers using this option a lot more.
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Motion Stabilization
Removing camera shake with After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

When I teach I often have to remind my students that shooting on a tripod is the best way to make sure the shot is going to be stable. Do students ever listen? Did you ever listen to your instructors? Most of the time, yes, but occasionally they get too excited about a shoot and forget everything they have been taught. In those instances where you have a shot where the videographer (or even cinematographer) has forgotten to use a tripod (or couldn’t) and the camera shake is very noticeable, you can use After Effects from Adobe to correct the problem.
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NOVEMBER 05, 2002
Butterflies!
3D, Expressions, and Parenting Oh My!
by Stephen Schleicher

It’s been a while since I’ve written an After Effects tutorial, so I thought I’d drop in a quick little number on how to create an impressionistic butterfly using After Effects 5.5’s 3D, Expressions and Parenting features.
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NOVEMBER 15, 2002
Windmill
Parenting in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

When parents go to the store, a lot of them tether their child to their arm. As the parent moves around the child must move with the parent; wherever the parent goes, the child must follow. As is often the case, children who are tethered still want to run around. The child can spin, jump up and down, move freely in his or her own space, yet no matter how much the child wants to run down the next aisle, that motion is not transferred back to the parent. That behavior model also applies to After Effects. In this tutorial, we’ll look at how to parent objects in After Effects and how the Parent-Child relationship works.
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NOVEMBER 25, 2002
Adjustment Layers
Alter multiple layers at once
by Stephen Schleicher

Ever have a complex composition in After Effects and want to make an adjustment to multiple layers? Unless you know about Adjustment Layers, you will be spending a lot of time applying the same effect to multiple layers.
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Free Turkey Give Away
Or - It’s Raining Turkeys
by Stephen Schleicher

My fondest Thanksgiving memory is of Les Nessman and the rest of the WKRP crew throwing turkeys out of a helicopter as part of their big Turkey give away campaign. Too bad they didn’t know turkeys couldn’t fly. Here’s a fun (and safe) way of recreating that scene.
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DECEMBER 05, 2002
Quick Change
Using Adobe After Effects Change to Color effect
by Stephen Schleicher

Ever go on a shoot, only to come back and hear the client say, "Gosh I wish the (insert name here) would have worn a green shirt instead of a red one". Now you can satisfy the client by using one of the color changing effects in After Effects.
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DECEMBER 16, 2002
Copy and Paste
How to copy Illustrator paths to After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

Instead of creating complex paths or masks in After Effects, it can sometimes be easier to create those items in Adobe Illustrator and simply copy and paste them into After Effects. Here’s how.
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DECEMBER 17, 2002
Timesaver/lifesaver
Replacing elements in an After Effects Timeline for instant repurposing
by Stephen Schleicher

There are going to be times when you need to repurpose an animation in an After Effects Timeline. Knowing how to do it quickly is not only a huge timesaver, but could be a lifesaver on a tight deadline.
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DECEMBER 22, 2002
Rusting Away
Blending CG text with the real world
by Stephen Schleicher

As a compositing wizard, you may be asked to blend a CG element onto a real world surface. Transfer Modes and Opacity changes will only take you so far before you reach the end of their limit. In this After Effects Production Bundle Tutorial, we’ll take an image and composite it believable on top of a rusted piece of metal.
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DECEMBER 22, 2002
Winter Wonderland
After Effects Particle Playground piles up
by Stephen Schleicher

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I showed you how you can use After Effects’ Particle Playground to create a plethora of falling turkeys. With the next holiday already here, let’s create some snow particles and have them pile up on a layer.
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JANUARY 02, 2003
Inner Outer Key
Your Chromakey alternative
by Stephen Schleicher

In the past I have proclaimed how the Color Difference Key in Adobe After Effects was the best all purpose keyer in the After Effects gallery of plug-ins. There are some limitations to the Color Difference Key effect; especially when it comes to keying whispy, smoky elements, or when you don’t have a chromakey background to begin with. In many cases, the Inner Outer Key effect will be able to help you out.
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JANUARY 07, 2003
Bisecting Animation
Animating garbage masks in Adobe After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

When keying footage there will be times when you have a poorly lit set, imperfections in the background, etc. and you only really need to key that area immediately around the foreground subject. During these times you would use a garbage mask to isolate the foreground element and get rid of any background crud. But what happens if you need to animate the mask?
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JANUARY 08, 2003
Up in Smoke
Adding a new twist to logo treatment
by Stephen Schleicher

As a motion graphic artist, a company looking to have their logo animated for video and film work has probably approached you. There are literally hundreds of ways to approach this task. In this After Effects Production Bundle exercise, we’ll use fractal noise and ramp effects, along with a Track Matte to make the company’s logo go up in smoke.
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JANUARY 09, 2003
Jumbo Jillions Part 1
Custom Gradient Wipe for After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

After Effects typically isn’t used to edit transitions, yet the program has some simple transitions built in. While you may not use the After Effects transitions as a transition between video clips, you may discover other uses for these effects; especially the Gradient Wipe.
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JANUARY 16, 2003
Jumbo Jillions Part 2
3D animation from a 2D comp
by Stephen Schleicher

In the last installment of this project, we used the Gradient Wipe effect in Adobe After Effects 5.5 to create a custom wipe to scratch away the prize area of a lottery ticket. In this exercise, we’ll finish up the project by turning the 2D composition into a 3D promo. This exercise focuses on setting up and animating the 3D scene as well as nesting a composition in a composition.
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JANUARY 20, 2003
Vegas Baby! Vegas!
Using After Effects plug-in for more than just dancing lights
by Stephen Schleicher

If you have played around with the Vegas plug-in in After Effects, you know that it is perfect for generating casino-style running lights around layers in a composition. Here is a alternate take on what might be done with this plug-in.
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JANUARY 22, 2003
Urban Legends: Render Faster in After Effects
Squeezing out a faster render time in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

There are always urban myths and legends floating around the Internet, but what about the one on how to get your Adobe After Effects project to render faster?
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FEBRUARY 07, 2003
Square pixels for square objects
3D in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

Like creating After Effects projects using the DV/NSTC preset and a non-square pixel aspect? If you do, you might run into problems when creating 3D using AE solids.
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FEBRUARY 12, 2003
Time Remapping
Turn Turn Turn
by Stephen Schleicher

There have been a lot of commercials playing lately that feature the product spinning around in a circle and randomly speeding up and slowing down. This is not some fancy variable speed turn table, but rather something that can be done easily inside Adobe After Effects with the Time Remapping feature.
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FEBRUARY 28, 2003
Here Comes the Sun
Part 1: Layer offset in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

I’m going to begin a multi-part tutorial/feature that looks at how you can create (or recreate) a rotating star for your next After Effects project. We’ll begin by looking at a sequence of images that will not import as a sequence and how you can use the Sequence Layer option to correct this problem.
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MARCH 07, 2003
Here Comes the Sun
Part 2: Faking it

by Stephen Schleicher

In the last installment, we looked at how image sequences can be generated when the images themselves won’t import into After Effects so we could create a rotating sun. While the solution worked, there was still the problem of being able to composite the footage over other layers. In this After Effects Production Bundle tutorial, I’ll show you how to take care of the corona issue as well as create your own Sun from scratch.
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MARCH 14, 2003
Here Comes the Sun: Part 3
Trapcode adds Shine to our AE Sun

by Stephen Schleicher

Last time we used Adobe After Effects Production Bundle’s Fractal Noise and Spherize effects to fake our own rotating Sun. We then used the Mask Tool to mask out the unwanted areas of the image. This of course left us with no corona or light rays streaming from our little star. One of the easiest ways to add these elements back into our composition is with Trapcode’s Shine. I like these kinds of articles. Part review, part tutorial… it’s a reviewatorial!
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April 22, 2003
2 ½ D
Animating still photos in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

A trend that is appearing more in more commercials and other video productions is taking a traditional photograph and giving it depth – creating a 2 ½D image. In this Adobe After Effects tutorial, I’ll outline the process and show you how you can do it as well.
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MAY 07, 2003
Wiggle it, just a little bit
Basic expression just can’t be used enough
by Stephen Schleicher

If you haven’t used wiggle, the expression that gives your layer a little shake, then you are missing out. Wiggle allows you add randomness to a property of a layer. For example, you can cause a jittery chaotic motion to a layer by applying the wiggle expression to the Position property of a layer. Here is how it works.
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MAY 09, 2003
Radio Waves
A loony background for your interstitials
by Stephen Schleicher

Radio Waves is one of those After Effects plug-ins which at first seem to be kind of lame. However, when you start experimenting and going beyond the basics, interesting results are sure to follow. In this After Effects tutorial, we’ll briefly explore how Radio Waves work and then create a unique background for a children’s television network.
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May 14, 2003
Up and Atom!
3D atoms in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

After the last exercise, I got a few e-mails asking how I created the flying swirls around the Mindsprung emblem. It is fairly simple if you know how to manipulate 3D, and in this exercise, we’ll create a 3D atom using nothing more than the out of the box After Effects Production Bundle.
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JUNE 06, 2003
Sequence This!
An After Effects quickie
by Stephen Schleicher

I get requests every so often on what is the easiest way to edit many layers in the After Effects Timeline to create a sequence. The easiest answer is to use the Sequence Layer assistant. Here is what it is all about.
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JUNE 09, 2003
Marking the Spot
After Effects markers can improve workflow
by Stephen Schleicher

In the last After Effects exercise (Sequence This!), I casually mentioned adding markers to your After Effects Timeline. Markers allow you to mark important points in a composition or in a specific layer. Let’s take a look at markers and what they can do for you.
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JULY 17, 2003
Just Can’t Wait
Text Tool in After Effects 6.0
by Stephen Schleicher

A lot of people stopped to check out the After Effects 6.0 review I wrote the other day… A LOT OF PEOPLE! Most have been blown away with the Text Tool and some of the amazing things you can do with it. To whet your appetite, here is a quick tutorial to show you how to create your own DMN logo in After Effects 6.0. You’ll want to bookmark this tutorial, because on delivery day, you’ll want to rip right into using the new Text Tool.
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JULY 22, 2003
SHA-SHA-SHARK
Reshaping Text in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

While playing with After Effects, I rediscovered a way to reshape text to look like something else. The reason I say rediscovered is because even the best AE user will occasionally forget an effect that is not used too often. In this After Effects exercise (which will work in AE5.5 or the new AE6.0), we’ll use the Reshape effect to mold our effect.
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JULY 24, 2003
Holy Displacement Map!
Displacing a superhero logo
by Stephen Schleicher

Doing your own superhero movie? How the heck do we “Normals” summon our heroes in the time of need? Batman used the Bat Signal. In this Adobe After Effects Pro exercise, we’ll create our own Bat Signal reflecting off the clouds.
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JULY 30, 2003
My God! It’s full of stars!
Slit Scan camera effect in After Effects 6.0
by Stephen Schleicher

One of the trippiest effects of all time has to be the Star Gate sequence at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Originally, Kubrick and the rest of the crew didn’t have the benefit of computer technology to assist in the creation of the movie. Instead they relied on a “Slit Scan” machine created by innovator Douglas Trumbull. This created the illusion of two planes of infinite proportions. Some of the shots that went into the final effect included aerial landscape footage and chemical interactions.
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AUGUST 04, 2003
AE6 Overview Part 1: Tracking and Stabilizing Motion
Improved feature in latest version
by Stephen Schleicher

One of the things that can plague even the best of videographers is a shaky camera shot. I always try to stress the importance of using a tripod when shooting, but because of the nature of the shoot (or people ignoring good advice) not using a tripod could be a necessity. This could lead to a great take ruined by a wobbling camera. Time and budget may not allow the production crew to go back for a reshoot, so what do you do when the producer is screaming for a nice stable shot?
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AUGUST 05, 2003
AE6 Overview Part 2: Stabilization
Stabilizing motion
by Stephen Schleicher

In the last installment, I gave a tour of the improvements and features found in the Tracking and Stabilize Motion features of After Effects 6.0 Pro. In this installment we’ll work through an exercise putting the Stabilize Motion feature to work.
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AUGUST 06, 2003
AE6.0 Overview Part 3: Motion Tracking
Single Point Tracking
by Stephen Schleicher

Even better than being able to stabilize a shot is the ability for After Effects 6.0 to track regions or points in a layer and apply that tracking information to another layer in your composition. With the tracking feature, it becomes a simple matter of making computer-generated graphics, effects, or even complex compositions follow a point in your video.
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AUGUST 07, 2003
AE6 Overview Part 4: Multipoint Tracking
Tracking CG elements to real world footage
by Stephen Schleicher

Not only can After Effects 6.0 track a single point in a motion clip, it can also track multiple points. These multi-points are tracked and the resulting data can be used to distort a layer you are applying the data to. In this segment, we’ll look at multipoint tracking and how you can use it to create a believable effect.
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AUGUST 14, 2003
Swimming with the Fishes
3D motion to a 2D object in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

In a previous article, we created the shape of an object out of its name. In this After Effects exercise, we’ll take a 2D fish and make its tail thrash in a 3D environment.
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August 22, 2003
AE6 Overview: Convert Audio to Keyframes
Bye Bye Motion Math
by Stephen Schleicher

One of the new changes/features in Adobe After Effects 6.0 is Convert Audio to Keyframes. This Keyframe Assistant does as the name implies and is a great replacement for Motion Math. And let’s face it, after the introduction of Expressions, the only reason to use Motion Math was to create keyframes from audio. In this overview exercise, I’ll walk you through the use of this new assistant to get an animated character to talk.
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August 23, 2003
AE 6.0 Text Exercise
Animating text in the Timeline
by Stephen Schleicher

Without a doubt one of the biggest and best new features in After Effects 6.0 is the new Text Tool. With it you can animate your text all over the place. You can even animate text changing over time. In this After Effects 6.0 exercise, we’ll take a quick look at how to do this. Not only is it an easy process, but it will save you a great deal of potential headache and hassle.
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September 19, 2003
On the Road to Delhi
Stroking and Roving in AE6.0
by Stephen Schleicher

Classic B-movies used all sorts of low budget conventions to get the hero from one exotic location to the next. Raiders of the Lost Ark paid homage to these classic movies and techniques by using the now classic animated line moving from country to country tracking the flight path of the plane the hero was traveling in. In this After Effects exercise, we’ll recreate that classic B-movie shot using modern day technology.
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OCTOBER 01, 2003
Hold that Type On Effect
Recreating the Alias Intro
by Stephen Schleicher

Over the last couple of weeks, I have gotten a few requests asking how to recreate the opening credits of the television series Alias as well as how to do the cool “fly through letters” effect that reveals the new location. Instead of repeating myself in many an email, here is your recipe using the Adobe After Effects 6.0.
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OCTOBER 02, 2003
Track Matte Video Inside Text
Recreating the Alias Intro Part 2
by Stephen Schleicher

In the last installment, we used Adobe After Effects 6.0’s Text Tool to create a typed on effect similar to what you see in the television series Alias. In addition to the typed on effect, video clips show up inside the individual letters. In this exercise, we’ll use Track Matting to achieve this effect.
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OCTOBER 03, 2003
Spiraling Out of Control
Recreating the Alias Intro Part 3
by Stephen Schleicher

In our on going mini-series on recreating the Alias intro, we take a quick look at how to get your title to spiral out of control using Adobe After Effects 6.0 and expressions.
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October 10, 2003
Driving Opacity with Sound Keys
Recreating the Alias Intro Part 4
by Stephen Schleicher

If you are like me, you hate creating bazillion keyframes in your After Effects projects. In the last of our four part series on recreating the Alias intro, we’ll use Trapcode’s Sound Keys plug-in to drive the opacity of our blinking cursor.
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October 31, 2003
Juggling Fire
Working with Particleillusion 3.0 and After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

Earlier in the week I reviewed Particleillusion 3.0, and marveled at how easy it is to use. In this exercise, I’ll walk you through the process of using Particleillusion with Adobe After Effects 6.0.
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November 7, 2003
Go Green
Why using green works better for DV
by Stephen Schleicher

At least once a week in one of the many user groups out there, someone inevitably asks, “What is the best background for my chroma key shoot – blue or green?” If you are shooting on DV, then I say go green, you’ll have better luck.
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NOVEMBER 14, 2003
Line Wrap
Bending 3D Stroke in Adobe After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

The WB Network has a very cool corner bug where a glowing line sweeps across the screen and around their logo. While it may seem like you have to do this in a true 3D program, with Trapcode’s 3D Stroke 2.0 you can get the same results in a few simple steps.
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NOVEMBER 21, 2003
Super Zoom
Simple effect and clever editing for dramatic transition
by Stephen Schleicher

It is always cool to see an effect you like, and even neater to break the effect down and figure out how to recreate it yourself. This week, we’ll use Adobe After Effects (4.1 or later) and some clever editing to create what I like to call The Super Zoom.
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DECEMBER 02, 2003
After Effects Project: Squiddies
Using Wave Warp to add a swishing tail.
by Stephen Schleicher

In this After Effects Production Bundle exercise, we’ll be making some microphones “swim” through our shot. To pull this off, we’ll use an older effect from the Production Bundle – Wave Warp.
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December 11, 2003
Auto Orient
Faking 3D with 2D layers in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

Having a swarm of particles flying around in your After Effects composition is one way to add a great deal of depth to a complex animation. However great Particle Playground may be, it is still a 2D generator. You can’t fly a camera around or through the emitter without the flatness becoming apparent. One alternative might be to create hundreds and hundreds of layers and position and animate them in 3D space. The drawback is that this is going to take a great deal of time. In the first of this three part exercise, we’ll lay the groundwork for creating a rotating cloud of particles that can either orbit another layer, or rotate around an AE camera creating an interesting swarm of particles.
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December 12, 2003
Cubic Distribution Light
Freebie allows for easy 3D distribution
by Stephen Schleicher

What do you do if you need to take hundreds of layers in your After Effects composition and distribute them randomly in 3D space? If you are still using After Effects 5.5, the answer is “manually for each and every layer”. If you are using After Effects 6.0, then an included freebie – Cubic Distribution Light from Digital Anarchy, is your key to moving your layers around.
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DECEMBER 16, 2003
Putting It All Together
Achieving the final 3D effect
by Stephen Schleicher

In this, the last part of our three part tutorial, we’ll combine the lessons learned from the previous exercises to create our pseudo 3D flying particles.
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DECEMBER 18, 2003
Follow the Leader
Time offset with After Effects expressions
by Stephen Schleicher

I’m not an expert on expressions in After Effects, but I have found over the last couple of years some very handy expressions to help create a more complex looking animation. In this After Effects exercise, we’ll look at an expression that adds a time delay or offset to multiple layers.
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DECEMBER 30, 2003
After Effects Tips
Eight tips to help in your After Effects work
by Stephen Schleicher

Everyone loves to read tidbits and tips to help in their workflow. However, not all of the quick tips and hints are long enough to deserve their own article. So, we present here some of those in one collection.
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January 7, 2004
Let It Shine
Creating a halo effect behind objects in AE6.0
by Stephen Schleicher

You’ve all seen the Universal logo with the glowing halo around the planet. If you are a Trapcode Shine owner, this is easy to recreate. But what if you are one of the minority that doesn’t own Shine yet? How can you create your own halo effect using effects from the Production Bundle of After Effects?
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January 9, 2004
AE Favorites
Create a favorite unmult effect in AE
by Stephen Schleicher

If you were amazed by the halo effect created in my last exercise, you were probably equally disappointed when you tried to apply the effect over a colored backdrop. Quickly the effect went in the toilet for one simple reason – the black portions of the effect do not key – or at least not yet. In this After Effects exercise, we’ll create our own Unmult effect and save it as a favorite.
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JANUARY 14, 2004
Planar Fog in After Effects
Background Color with a purpose
by Stephen Schleicher

Great strides have occurred over the last couple of years by bringing many 3D concepts and tools into this once 2D compositing program. While the current version of After Effects supports 3D “fog” (z-depth information) from third party programs (LightWave, 3dsmax, Mays, etc.), there isn’t a built in fog-filter. Or is there? In this After Effects 6.0 exercise, we’ll use the basic Tint effect, expressions, and the Background Color of the Comp to create a unique Planar Fog effect.
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JANUARY 19, 2004
LightWave to After Effects
RPF and RLA explored
by Stephen Schleicher

It is no surprise when I say 3D animation is everywhere. Nearly every show, commercial, and movie you see has some type of 3D work in it. While processor speeds have increased our productivity, those speeds also cause us to want to do more, which just so happens to increase render times. One of the more render intensive aspects of 3D animation is applying Depth of Field. This greatly increases render times and if done wrong guarantees you’ll be going back to re-render again. What would be better is to take a single frame (or series of frames) and apply DOF in a compositing application. In order to do this, you need to save it in a RPF or RLA format. In the first of this three part tutorial, we’ll create an animation in NewTek’s LightWave 3D (v. 7.5) so we can then take those frames into After Effects for 3D depth work (part 2), and even add some 3D text using Invigorator (part 3).
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January 20, 2004
Manipulating RPF files in After Effects
Adding Depth of Field and Fog
by Stephen Schleicher

In the last installment, I demonstrated how to export an RPF file from LightWave so the files contained Z-depth information that we can use in Adobe After Effects. In this installment, we’ll continue on our final project.
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January 26, 2003
Text Depth
Basics of using Invigorator in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

In the first two portions of our project exercise, we created a rain of 3D pills in NewTek’s LightWave 3D, saved that animation out as a series of RPF files that we then brought into After Effects to add some post Depth of Field and fog work using AE’s 3D effects. Toward the end of the exercise, we added the company text using the Text Tool. To add even more depth to the logo, we don’t have to go back to LightWave, but can create text with depth using Invigorator.
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FEBRUARY 02, 2004
Fire in the Eyes
Heat vision eyebeam effect in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a comic book geek, and while I tend to favor Batman as the greatest hero, Superman comes in a close second. The WB series Smallville chronicles Clark Kent’s life before donning the red and blue as he discovers his powers and tries to cope in a small Kansas town. Many of the effects in the show are pretty keen, and one that I particularly like is the heat vision effect. In this After Effects exercise, we’ll create a fire in the eye effect that you can use for your next heat vision shot.
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FEBRUARY 04, 2004
Absolute Luv
Foam and Flow Maps
by Stephen Schleicher

I might as well jump on the Valentine’s Day bandwagon and offer up my exercise for the holiday. In this exercise, we’ll use the free Foam plug-in that you get when registering After Effects 6.0 and look at how we can use custom bubbles and flow maps to control the direction of our love.
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February 19, 2004
In the Cards
Sub-pixel placement in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

You are probably familiar with the X,Y, Z pixel coordinate placement of layers in After Effects. But what if you need to nudge something less than a full pixel? You can certainly do it, but why is it helpful? In this beginner Adobe After Effects exercise, we’ll examine how nudging along the Z space can create a two sided object.
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February 26, 2003
Up Next
Yet another bumper for your station
by Stephen Schleicher

A great number of you like the project based After Effects exercises I have done over the years. One area that continues to be a favorite is the station interstitial. Interstitials are those bumper pieces you see between shows that tie everything together. In this After Effects 6.0 Pro exercise, we’ll create an ‘Up Next’ bit for our make believe station. To help us out, we’ll also you an effect from Profound Effects’ Useful Things.
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February 27, 2004
Up Next 2
Adding text to you bumper
by Stephen Schleicher

In this portion of our two part exercise, we’ll add animated text to our interstitial using the Adobe After Effects 6.0 Text Tool.
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March 17, 2004
The Streak
Creating dynamic backgrounds with Fractal Noise
Stephen Schleicher

T here are so many ways you can create motion backgrounds in After Effects.  One of my favorite ways is with Fractal Noise.  This Production Bundle effect is so versatile you can create everything from a murky fog all the way up to a fast paced streaky background.  In this exercise, we’ll create such a background and show several ways it can be used.
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March 19, 2004
Grow Bounds
Expand your layers
by Stephen Schleicher

Let’s face it, not all of the elements you bring into After Effects are going to conform to your comp size – some will be larger and some will be smaller. In the case of the element that is smaller than your composition size, you often will run into problems with certain effects that, in order to work correctly, need to go beyond the edge of the layer. How do you fix this?
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APRIL 01, 2004
Combustion Eye for the AE Guy
Part 2: Network rendering
Stephen Schleicher

Everyone wants it faster; the producer needs to deliver the product to the distributor, the director needs the product from the editor, the editor needs the motion graphics from you. You need to render faster with discreet’s combustion 3. Have you considered network rendering?
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April 27 2004
First Look: Adobe After Effects 6.5 Pro
Update to popular compositing app much needed
By Stephen Schleicher

Adobe unveiled After Effects 6.5 at the NAB 2004 convention in Las Vegas.  I know I get excited each time a new update is released to any product, because I know that new features, updates, and tweaks under the hood means more productivity for me.  Even though the release is still a while a way, here is DMN’s first look at Adobe After Effects 6.5.
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May 24, 2004
Gate Weave Creation
Creating your own film damage effect in Adobe After Effects
By Stephen Schleicher

When film is run through the projector time and time again, the sprocket holes can grow in size and the film can warp leading to a shimmy when the film is projected on the screen. This effect, known as gate weave is popping up in many 3rd party plug-ins. In this After Effects tutorial, I’ll show how to create one of your own.
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May 25, 2004
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #33
Final Cut HD to After Effects for free
by Stephen Schleicher

Moving your Final Cut Pro HD Timeline out to Adobe After Effects 6.5 doesn’t have to be a headache.  Plug-ins like Automatic Duck’s Pro Import AE/Red do this, but can cost quite a bit to make it happen.  But what if there was a free plug-in that allows you to do this (with a bit of tweaking)?  And what if this free plug-in was available right now from Apple and Automatic Duck?  In this Final Cut Pro Quick Tip, I’ll show you where it is, and how to use it with pretty good results.
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September 01, 2003
Useful Things
A workflow overview
by Stephen Schleicher

Profound Effects Useful Things is a wonderful addition to Adobe After Effects. With it you have the ability to create over 300 effects – many come with the app, while others are created by a huge user base. For some users, the way you create an effect can be a bit daunting. In this overview, I’ll walk you through the process of creating one of my favorite Useful Things effects.
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June 16, 2004
The Whole Earth
The last time you’ll ever ask how to create a sphere in After Effects
By Stephen Schleicher

At least once a week in one of the many news groups and discussion forums out there, someone will ask, “How do I create a sphere in After Effects… like, um, I want to make the planet Earth, and like, um, I want it to rotate and stuff ya know.”  Have no fear dear reader, with After Effects 6.5 you will no longer have to ask this question again and again and again and again…
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June 18, 2004
Beam Me Up
Creating your own transporter effect with After Effects 6.5
By Stephen Schleicher

In this After Effects exercise, we will quickly create our own Star Trek type beam effect using the Cycore effects that come with the After Effects 6.5.
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June 25, 2004
That Old Film Magic
Creating an aged film look in After Effects Pro
by Stephen Schleicher

Over the last couple of months I’ve gone over some film look treatments that you can do yourself in Adobe After Effects without the need of an expensive plug-in. In this AE6.5 exercise, I’ll demonstrate how you can use Fractal Noise to really age a video clip complete with vignette, scratches and crud marks.
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July 28, 2004
Scan lines
Venetian Blinds more than just a cheesy wipe
By Stephen Schleicher

With the recent announcement of the title for the next Star Wars installment, chances are fan films will start popping up recreating the famous Star Wars hologram.  One of the hallmarks of this effect is adding TV-esque scan lines to the footage.  With After Effects, you don’t have to knock yourself out, just use a standard cheesy wipe effect.
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July 29, 2004
Blue Moon
Fantasy full moon in Adobe After Effects
By Stephen Schleicher

July is a Blue Moon month!  Not the blue moon of the song, and not an actual blue moon, but a moon that is full twice in one month.  With After Effects, you can create your own blue moon anytime you want, and this exercise will show you how.
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August 4, 2005
L[8] to AE6.5
Moving camera data to After Effects via RPF
By Stephen Schleicher

In addition to the slew of new features and tools in NewTek’s LightWave 8, improvements to the type of information exported with a file also received a boost.  With  L[8] you now have the ability to export camera data with your RPF file and have that information interpreted by Adobe After Effects 6.5.
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August 05, 2004
Bleach Bypass
How to do it in your application
By Stephen Schleicher

Made most famous in the film Saving Private Ryan, the bleach bypass method of treating film gives a very unique look to a project. Since most videographers don’t have the luxury of spending money on film to achieve this look, they usually turn to mimicking the look in post. In this exercise, I’ll show how to do the effect in Adobe After Effects, Avid Xpress DV, discreet’s Combustion, and Apple’s Final Cut Pro 4.
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August 11, 2004
X Marks the Spot
A different take on AE’s Stroke effect
By Stephen Schleicher

Arrgggh Maties! It be treasure we seek, and with the help of After Effects’ Stroke effect we can recreate our own path to pirate gold.
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August 13, 2004
Star Wars Intro
Updated for After Effects 6.5
By Stephen Schleicher

The last time I wrote about creating the Star Wars intro complete with text scrolling to infinity (and beyond), I had After Effects 5.0 in mind.  Since then I receive about one request a week from fan boys wanting the tutorial updated for the latest version of After Effects.  In this exercise, we’ll use parenting, 3D layers, and a bunch of text to build that intro for your latest Star Wars fan film.
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August 25, 2004
Text Tool Tip
Copying and pasting paragraphs into After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

If you didn’t read last weeks Star Wars Intro tutorial, you may have missed a really neat tip on how to use the Text Tool to enter large amounts of copied text.  For those of you who missed it, here’s the highlight reel.
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August 26, 2004
Pete's Kaleidoscope
Setting up a background in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

There is a pretty good Kaleidoscope effect that comes as part of After Effects 6.5, but it is somewhat limiting for my taste.  As great as many of the After Effects are, there are hundreds of other effects out there to use.  Put on your favorite Ravi Shankar album because in this exercise, I’ll demonstrate how the Kaleidoscope effect from Pete Warden can be used to create your own dreamy background. 
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November 11, 2004
After Effects Ball Action
Molecule fun
By Stephen Schleicher

When you installed the Cycore FX effects with After Effects 6.5 you probably tried the Ball Action effect.  While it is a great way to quickly create a ball park video screen, this effect can also work in a 3D environment.  In this After Effects 6.5 Pro tutorial, we’ll use Ball Action to create an animated molecule for a science show.
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December 8, 2004
Ultimate Home Safety
Creating a laser fence in Adobe After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

There are a number of ways to use the Fractal Noise effect in Adobe After Effects Pro.  One simple yet effective way to employ the effect is to create dust particles floating through the air.  In this After Effects 6.5 Pro tutorial, we’ll use Fractal Noise to create a laser fence around our property to protect us from the ne’er-do-wells of the world.
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December 21, 2004
Let It Snow
Create a gentle snowfall with AE 6.5 and Particle World
by Stephen Schleicher

Lately I have received many requests on how to create custom particles using the Cycore FX Particle World plug-in for Adobe After Effects 6.5.  To coincide with the holiday, this tutorial will show you how to create your own field of falling snow.
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January 13, 2005
Download: After Effects Animation Presets Series 01
Six animation presets for text and layers
by Stephen Schleicher

One of the great things about Adobe After Effects 6.5 is the large number of animation presets that can be applied to text layers in your composition.  This collection of presets was created by AE Pros and can really improve the quality of moving text.  This week we present a collection of text presets that you can add to your Animation Preset Library.
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January 17, 2005
Download: After Effects Animation Presets Series 02
Six animation presets for text and layers
by Stephen Schleicher

Animation presets are more than just text properties.  Animation presets can also include filters and masks to be used as paths.  This week we present another collection of text presets that you can add to your Animation Preset Library.
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January 19, 2005
Countdown…4…3…2…1…
A simple countdown in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

I have received a couple of e-mails, and have seen at least one post in the DMN forums asking how to do a countdown in After Effects.  It can be done, and is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – or should I say 3…2…1…
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March 06, 2005
Casting Shadows in After Effects 6.5
Different types of shadows in 3D space
by Stephen Schleicher

To make a truly believable 3D space in Adobe After Effects, you should make use of shadows in your composition.  In this exercise, we’ll look at the three options for casting shadows (and light) in After Effects.

For this exercise, we’ll create an animated logo for an imaginary Japanese restaurant called “Zen Zero”.  In addition to having the name of the restaurant in the shot, we will also the logo which happens to be three offset rings rotating around one another.
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March 15, 2005
Stunning
Build your own stun gun in After Effects
By Stephen Schleicher

When you are doing special effects in a production, safety should be the number one concern.  This is especially true when working with electricity.  With Adobe After Effects, you can simulate the 30,000 volts zapper.  In this exercise, I’ll show you how to create the effect.
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March 19, 2005
Shuffle
3D arrows in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

With the success of Apple’s iPod commercials, everyone wants to duplicate the look and feel of the piece.  The latest includes arrows that bend and cross to form the iPod Shuffle logo.  In this exercise I’ll show you how to do it quickly and easily.
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March 19, 2005
Shuffle It Quick Tip
3D arrows in After Effects Part 2
by Stephen Schleicher

Last time we created the iPod Shuffle commercial arrows.  In this installment, we’ll expand upon the 2D effect and have these arrows move in 3D space.  It isn’t that hard and makes this exercise an After Effects Quick Tip.
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March 25, 2005
That Little Gleam
Using the Light Sweep Effect in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

After Effects 6.5 shipped with many Cycore Effects one being the Light Sweep effect for fast and effective light gleams.  In this video tutorial, DMN’s Stephen Schleicher walks you through the process of using the effect for your project.
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April 1, 2005
Copy Mask to Position
A visual guide to copying masks and pasting them as keyframes in Adobe After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

One of the most oft areas of clarification I am asked is the proper way to copy a mask in After Effects to the position property of another layer.  Since many of you learn visual, I have created another video tutorial for you to learn from.
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July 11, 2005
Building a Random Number Background
Animating text properties in Adobe After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

If you haven’t visited the DMN After Effects forums you are missing out on great discussions, informative announcements, and quick and easy tutorials.  A recent posting asked about creating a background of random numbers and letters.  This is a snap with the Text Tool of Adobe After Effects.
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August 10, 2005
Curtain of Fractal Noise
Background for your interstitial
By Stephen Schleicher

The Fractal Noise effect is by far my most favorite and most used effect in Adobe After Effects 6.5 Professional. It is so versatile and can be used in everything from a smoke filled background, to fire, to an anime fight scene. In this exercise, you will manipulate the settings of effect to create a curtain of light.
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September 23
Heat Wave
Creating heat distortion and shimmer with After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

Late summer is always weird.  One day it is 101 degrees, the next is 75.  If you live in the hotlands you have probably seen heat shimmer coming off the road, your car, anything that absorbs and reflects heat.  But what do you do if you need to recreate that effect After Effects and particles are the answer.
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October 30, 2005
Freeze Frame
Creating a stylized freeze frame effect in Adobe After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

A reader asked how he could create a freeze frame effect one might see in a movie where the actor is highlighted from the surrounding elements. There are several ways to do this, and in this Adobe After Effects lesson, I’ll show you one method.
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January 17, 2006
First Look: After Effects 7.0 Pro
Latest update gets new look
By Stephen Schleicher

What better way to kick off the New Year than with an update to your favorite compositing and application software?  Adobe After Effects 7 delivers with the same power you’ve come to expect, and does it all with a new look and new features.  
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January 14, 2006
The Timewarp
Using Timewarp in After Effects 7.0 Pro
By Stephen Schleicher

The Timewarp effect is one of the new additions to Adobe After Effects 7.0.  With this effect you can speed up or slow down footage for dramatic results.  In this exercise, I’ll show you how to use Timewarp to create a slo-mo.
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January 30, 2006
Capturing Video with After Effects 7.0
Quick Tip on how it works
By Stephen Schleicher

For those who bought first day, Adobe After Effects 7.0 should now be in your hands.  One of the new features that has been added to the Adobe Production Suite Premium Bundle is the ability to psuedo-capture footage from After Effects with the help of the new Dynamic Link, and Premiere Pro.  This quick tip will show you how it is done.
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February 07, 2006
Yet Another Fractal Noise Background
An After Effects tutorial
by Stephen Schleicher

This marks the 108th After Effects tutorial I have written, and by far, the most covered topic has been the Fractal Noise effect.  This is such a versatile effect that is perfect when creating animated backdrops for your projects.  In this exercise, you’ll learn yet another formula in creating a Fractal Noise background.
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February 16, 2006
Dazzling Fractal Noise
A million and one uses for this effect in After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

The good thing about the Fractal Noise effect in Adobe After Effects is it has a million and one uses in creating background animations for your projects.  The bad thing about the Fractal Noise effect in Adobe After Effects is once I start playing and experimenting I can’t stop.  In this After Effects tutorial, you’ll create a dazzling display of light and lines.
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March 09, 2006
Applying 3D Channel Effects
Adding fog to your 3D scenes
by Stephen Schleicher

The Professional version of Adobe After Effects provides tools to integrate 3D scenes into 2D composites and to make changes to those 3D scenes. In this tutorial, we’ll look at how you add Fog to your 3D render.
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March 10, 2006
Using Depth Effects in After Effects
Adding rack focus and depth of field to a 3D layer
by Stephen Schleicher

Even though render speeds in 3D applications have gotten faster, adding depth of field during the first pass really adds to the render time.  And even if you do render a shallow depth of field, what happens if you need to tweak it?  With the 3D Channel effects in Adobe After Effects 7.0, you can render a single pass and then add enhancements in post.  In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through creating your own rack focus in post.
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April 19, 2006
Grass is Always Greener
The solution – After Effects
by Stephen Schleicher

Oh the joys of lawn care.  No matter how you cut, fertilize, aerate, and more, your neighbor’s grass is always greener.  Extract revenge with After Effects and some color correction.
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May 10, 2006
May the Force (Field) Be With You
Part 2: Displacement mapping a field generator
By Stephen Schleicher

In our last installment I walked you through one possible method of creating a growing grass effect for our house in the burbs.  In this installment we’ll begin to build a force field generator that will deflect attacks from those neighbors who are jealous of our new found gardening skills.
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May 11, 2006
Shields Up
Part 3: Adding visual disruptions
By Stephen Schleicher

In Part 2 we added an energy field that utilized a displacement map to create a visual distortion of the image whenever something strikes the protective shell.  In this lesson, we’ll continue to build the energy field, this time creating a glowing ripple that spreads across the force field.
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May 19, 2006
Going Out with a Bang
Part 4: Adding fire and camera shake
By Stephen Schleicher

We’re going to wrap up our force field effects shot exercise by adding a violent camera shake and a fireball explosion.  It’s not that hard with Trapcode Particular 1.5 and a quick expression.
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September 17, 2006
After Effects 101
Speed Changes via Keyframes
by Stephen Schleicher

Time to get back to basics with After Effects.  More and more beginners are jumping on board and are learning the ins and outs of After Effects.  The one question I get a lot is “How to I make ______ longer or shorter?”  Fear not dear reader, this quick tutorial has the answer.
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