Sunday, 26 February 2012

Adobe After Effects test- news graphic

This is a BBC-inspired news graphic test created in Adobe After Effects. I actually learnt most of the techniques used here a few weeks ago during university tutorials, with some more learnt at home in my own time, although I have only recently found the time to revisit this work and make changes before rendering the final video.

This test included many firsts for me. This represents my first use of expressions (a 'wiggle' expression on the circular motif on the right hand side), my first use of the 'CC Sphere' effect to create the globe from a flat texture, and my first attempt at making a countdown timer! All of these elements work well together I find, creating something detailed and rather authentic.

The rings around the globe were created with masked solid layers, (such that only stripes are visible), with these masks animated to move from above the screen to below it. I then applied the CC Sphere effect to these stripes, which effectively wraps them around a sphere. What I like particularly about CC Sphere is that you can choose whether you want the effect to render the full sphere, or just the inside or outside. What this means is that by separating the inside and outside halves with a duplicate layer, you can sandwich another layer between, creating the impression of something inside the rings. This is how I made the rings form around the Earth.

The timer was tricky. Based on what I learnt from looking at a couple of tutorials online (neither of which were that good to be honest), I added a new solid to the composition, and added a 'Numbers' text effect to this. Providing the solid covers the length of the composition, move along the timeline and you should notice the time counting upwards.

What I found confusing, since I could find no explanation for it, is that the timer only counted when the effect was set to a certain clock layout (hours, minutes, seconds, frames). Of course, my test is only 11 seconds long. As a workaround, I chose to mask off the unnecessary zeros from the hours and minutes section- to no avail. The mask did nothing. Even more odd is that when I pre-composited the timer layer, the timer vanished. Ultimately, my solution was to create a second 'main' composition without the timer, then mask off the original such that only the latter sections of the timer were visible on the original composition.

Next, I had to deal with the fact that the countdown was... well, a count up. I needed to use the 'enable time re-mapping' feature to effectively play the timer backwards- but I couldn't pre-comp the timer as it disappeared whenever I tried. What I resorted to was pre-composing everything else, and mapping this to play backwards (such that the timer counts up and everything else goes in reverse). Then, I could use the time re-map feature again on the final composition, inverting both elements to play the right way round!

This timer was fiddly and, in my opinion, illogical. Nevertheless, I managed to solve my problems after a bit of trial and error which is an important thing to be able to do! Hopefully in the future I can learn exactly why things wouldn't work as I imagined they would, but for now I'm more than happy with the result of my own solution.  

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