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Please Make Me Feel Stupid

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Sam AndrewsPlease Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 18, 2011 at 10:11:55 pm

Hi There,
I'm somewhat new to After Effects and am looking to your godly expertise for guidance. I have a problem that seems like it should be easily accomplished, something that will make me smack my heading, thinking, "Of COURSE! How could I have been so stupid?!"

The basic question is this: Can you keyframe an entire effect/preset?

For some more information, here's what's happening. I have a title sequence that I like, with things zipping around in 3D space. At the end, the camera settles in on the final title and holds. So far so good. I have a third-party plugin that creates the look of old-timey footage from a hundred years ago. I precomped the original sequence and applied the preset to the result. It basically applies a schwack of effects to the composition, with noise, wiggle, color correction, etc. But here's the problem. Once the camera settles in, I'd like to fade it all off, leaving a nice crisp, clean title. I guess I could go through and keyframe each and every effect individually, but surely Adobe (or one of you geniuses) has a way to fade an entire preset out in a much more efficient manner.

Thanks so much for all your help. And thanks so much for this helpful forum in the first place,; you've all been a great help already and you don't even know it!

-- Sam

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Brian CharlesRe: Please Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 18, 2011 at 10:47:38 pm

Add an adjustment layer above all layers you want to have the effect.

Apply the preset to the adjustment layer.

To fade, keyframe opacity of adjustment layer.

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Sam AndrewsRe: Please Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 19, 2011 at 12:13:16 am

Hi Brian,
Thanks so much for your quick help, I appreciate it.

I probably didn't explain myself well enough because your solution - while being awesome - doesn't quite solve my issue. The only problem with that technique is that it looks like a transition between two titles rather than the effects themselves slowly stopping. Some of the effects (like wiggle and whatnot) cause the title to no longer be perfectly centered on the screen, so it looks like a fade between the old-timey title and unaffected title. And I guess that's because it IS a fade between the old-timey title and unaffected title.

Do you (or anyone else) happen to know how I can make it look like the effects themselves taper off rather than their opacity lowered?

Thanks again, Brian!

-- Sam

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Darby EdelenRe: Please Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 19, 2011 at 6:52:59 am

The best way to achieve this is to link all of the properties you need to animate to one Effect > Expression Controls > Slider effect. You have to use expressions to do this. Something like this applied to each property:

x = thisComp.layer("Null 1").effect("Slider Control")("Slider");
linear(x, 0, 100, 0, value);

The above would allow you to keyframe the slider from 0 to 100, as the range goes from 0 to 100 the value returned by the above expression would range from 0 to the current value of the property.

You can use other values for the last 2 arguments if you don't want to use "0" and "value."

Darby Edelen

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Sam AndrewsRe: Please Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 19, 2011 at 11:23:02 am

Hi Darby,
Thanks so much! That sounds very much like the exact thing I was looking for.

As I'm still a bit new to After Effects, I'm not incredibly hot at expressions. I'll have to go do some more in-depth learning about it before I try your solution. I'm the kind of guy that would like to know what each of those parameters do before I try them out (for instance, I'm so green that I don't even know whether the "x" in your expression is an actual value, or whether it's just a placeholder for something that I'll need to manually fill in). I've just Googled some decent looking websites dedicated to expressions, so that should give me something to sink my teeth into later tonight, letting me dissect your code.

Thanks again, Darby. I sincerely appreciate it. I'll get back to you in a day or two to let you know how I got on.

-- Sam

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Kevin CampRe: Please Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 19, 2011 at 4:17:01 pm

'x' in darby's expression is just a variable he created, it could have been just about anything he wanted as long as it didn't start with a number or contain a symbol or be a term that was a part of the ae-java language (like value or position, etc...)...

it could have been 'y' or 'n1' or 'myVariable'.

all a variable does is contain some other data. the data could be a set value, like '10', or an equation... in this case he uses x to be the value of the slider, that way you could keyframe the slider value to effect the linear() expression... it looks more complicated than it really is.

if you haven't discovered it yet, has a lot of after effects expression information. and dan ebberts does a great job of breaking down the expressions he provides there. the 'mastering expression' section is a good place to start. is pretty old, but it is also a good place for beginners. the syntax used in his expressions is pretty old. it still works in newer ae versions, just but don't be confused when you start seeing newer syntax elsewhere.

those are the two resources i used for learning expressions, but it can also be helpful to learn some java basics. i used and

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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Kevin ReinerRe: Please Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 19, 2011 at 6:30:44 pm

You don't "need" to know expressions to do what you're asking. They just help you manipulate things faster.

Most "film-look" effects have some sort of value control to fade off the effects. For example, BCC's effect called Film Damage has grain, dirt, hair, and scratches. Each one of those elements has either an "amount" or "density" value. So for each one, make a keyframe at the beginning of your fade using your desired value amount and then at the end of your fade, bring them all down to zero.

Expressions allow you to link all of these to one controller layer, which makes for quicker manipulation. Don't get me wrong, you should learn expressions, but they aren't totally necessary to accomplish what you want.

Hope this helps.

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Sam AndrewsRe: Please Make Me Feel Stupid
by on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:15:33 am

Hi Darby,
Everything worked out perfectly. Not only did I get exactly the result I was hoping for, but I got my hands a bit dirty with expressions, which was a great way to learn.

So thanks so much for all your help, Darby. And thanks to everyone else who chimed in with their wonderful suggestions and help.

-- Sam

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