Adobe After Effects CS6 Classroom in a Book All Review Questions

  1. (1) 1. What are the basic components of the After Effects workflow?
    Most After Effects workflows include these steps: import and organize footage, create compositions and arrange layers, add effects, animate elements, preview your work, and render and export the final composition.
  2. (1) 2. What is a composition?
    A composition is where you create all animation, layering, and effects.  An After Effects composition has both spatial and temporal (time) dimensions.  Compositions include one or more layers--video, audio, still images--arranged in the Composition panel and in the Timeline panel.  Simple projects may include only one composition, while elaborate projects may include several compositions to organize large amounts of footage or intricate effects sequences.
  3. (1) 3. Describe three ways to preview your work in After Effects.
    You can manually preview your work in After Effects by moving the current-time indicator, or you can view either a standard or RAM preview.  A standard preview plays your composition from the current-time indicator to the end of the composition, usually more slowly than real time.  A RAM preview allocates RAM to play the preview (with audio) as fast as the system allows, up to the frame rate of the composition.
  4. (1) 4. How can you customize an After Effects workspace?
    You can customize an After Effects workspace by dragging the panels into the configuration that best suits your working style.  You can drag panels to new locations, move panels into or out of groups, place panels alongside each other, and undock a panel so that it floats above the application window.  As you rearrange panels, the other panels resize automatically to fit the applications window.  You can save custom workspaces by choosing Window > Workspace > New Workspace.
  5. (2) 1. How do you use Adobe Bridge to preview and import files?
    Choose File > Browse In Bridge to jump from After Effects to Adobe Bridge, where you can search for and preview image assets.  When you locate the asset you want to use in an After Effects project, double-click it or drag it to the Project panel.
  6. (2) 2. What is precomposing?
    Precomposing is a way to nest layers within a composition.  Precomposing moves the layers to a new composition, which takes the place of the selected layers.  When you want to change the order in which layer components are rendered, precomposing is a quick way to create intermediate levels of nesting in an existing hierarchy.
  7. (2) 3. How do you customize an effect?
    After you apply an effect to a layer in a composition, you can customize its properties in the Effect Controls panel.  This panel opens automatically when you apply the effect, or you can open it at any time by selecting the layer with the effect and choosing Window > Effect Controls.
  8. (2) 4. How do you modify the transparency of a layer in a composition?
    To modify the transparency of a layer, reduce its opacity.  Select the layer in the Timeline panel, press T to reveal its Opacity property, and enter a value lower than 100%.
  9. (3) 1. What are some similarities and differences between text layers and other types of layers in After Effects?
    In many ways, text layers are just like any other layer in After Effects.  You can apply effects and expressions to text layers, animate them, designate them as 3D layers, and edit the 3D text while viewing it in multiple views.  However, text layers are like shape layers in that you can't open them in their own Layer panels, and in that they are synthetic layers that consist entirely of vector graphics.  You can animate text in a text layer using special text animator properties and selectors.
  10. (3) 2. How can you preview a text animation preset?
    You can preview text animation presets in Adobe Bridge by choosing Animation > Browse Presets.  Adobe Bridge opens and displays the contents of the After Effects Presets folder.  Navigate to folders containing categories of text animation presets, such as Blurs or Paths, and watch samples in the Preview panel.  Then double-click a preset to add it to the currently selected layer in the After Effects Timeline panel.
  11. (3) 3. How can you assign one layer's transformations to another layer?
    You can use parenting relationships in After Effects to assign one layer's transformations to another layer (except opacity transformations).  When a layer is made a parent to another layer, the other layer is called the child layer.  Creating a parenting relationship between layers synchronizes the changes in the parent layer with corresponding transformation values of the child layers.
  12. (3) 4. What are text animator groups?
    Text animator groups enable you to animate the properties of individual characters in a text layer over time.  Text animator groups contain one or more selectors, which are like masks: They let you specify which characters or section of a text layer you want an animator property to affect.  Using a selector, you can define a percentage of the text, specific characters in the text, or a specific range of text.
  13. (4) 1. What is a shape layer, and how do you create one?
    A shape layer is simply a layer that contains a vector graphic called a shape.  To create a shape layer, draw a shape directly in the Composition panel using any of the drawing tools or the Pen tool.
  14. (4) 2. How can you quickly create multiple copies of a shape?
    To quickly duplicate a shape multiple times, apply a Repeater operation to the shape layer.  The Repeater path operation creates copies of all paths, strokes, and fills included in the layer.
  15. (4) 3. What is the advantage of using the Brainstorm feature?
    The Brainstorm feature creates variants of your composition based on randomized settings in the properties you selected. The feature makes it possible to explore numerous possibilities quickly and easily, and to save or apply them with a single click.
  16. (4) 4. What does the Pucker & Bloat path operation do?
    The Pucker & Bloat operation pulls the path's vertices outward while curving segments inward (pluckering), or pulls the vertices inward while curving segments outward (bloating).  Negative values pucker a shape; positive values bloat it.
  17. (4) 5. How does the Cartoon effect work?
    The Cartoon effect stylizes a layer by removing some details and emphasizing others, and by simplifying color.  You can change settings in the Effect Controls panel to finetune the effect's behavior.  
  18. (5) 1. How does After Effects display an animation of the Position property?
    When you animate the Position property, After Effects displays the movement as a motion path.  You can create a motion path for the position of the layer or for the anchor point of a layer.  A position motion path appears in the Composition panel; an anchor-point motion path appears in the Layer panel.  The motion path appears as a sequence of dots, where each dot marks the position of the layer at each frame.  A box in the path marks the position of a keyframe.
  19. (5) 2. What is a solid-color layer, and what can you do with it?
    You can create solid images of any color or size (up to 30,000 x 30,000 pixels) in After Effects.  After Effects treats solids as it does any other footage item: You can modify the mask, transform properties, and apply effects to the solid layer.  If you change settings for a solid that is used by more than one layer, you can apply the changes to all layers that use the solid or to only the single occurrence of the solid.  Use solid layers to color a background or create simple graphic images.
  20. (5) 3. What types of audio can you import into an After Effects project?
    You can import any of the following types of audio files into After Effects: Adobe Sound Document (ASND; multitrack files import as merged single track), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC, M4A), Audio Interchange File Format (AIF, AIFF), MP3 (MP3, MPEG, MPG, MPA, MPE), Video for Windows (AVI, WAV; requires QuickTime on Mac OS), and Waveform (WAV).
  21. (6) 1. How does After Effects import Photoshop files?
    When you import a layered Photoshop file into After Effects as a composition, After Effects preserves the layer order, transparency data, and layer styles from the source Photoshop document.  It also preserves other features, such as adjustment layers and type.  When you import a layered Photoshop file as a single footage item, however, After Effects flattens and merges the Photoshop layers into one image.
  22. (6) 2. What is the pick whip, and how do you use it?
    The pick whip creates expressions that link the values of one property or effect to another layer.  The pick whip is also a way to create parenting relationships.  To use the pick whip, simply drag the pick whip icon from one property to another.
  23. (6) 3. What is a track matte, and how do you use it?
    When you want one layer to show through a hole in another layer, you can use a track matte.  To create a track matte, you need two layers: one to act as a matte, and another to fill the hole in the matte.  You can animate either track matte layer or the fill layer.  When you animate the track matte layer, you create a traveling matte.
  24. (6) 4. How do you remap time in After Effects?
    There are several ways to remap time in After Effects.  Time remapping lets you dynamically speed up, slow down, stop, or reverse footage.  When remapping time, you can use the values in the time-remap graph in the Graph Editor to determine and control which frame of the movie plays at which point in time.  When you enable time remapping for a layer, After Effects adds a Time Remap keyframe at the start and end points of the layer.  By setting additional Time Remap keyframes, you can create complex motion effects.  Every time you add a Time Remap keyframe, you create another point at which you can change the playback speed or direction.
  25. (7) 1. What is a mask?
    A mask in After Effects is a path, or outline, that is used to modify layer effects and properties.  The most common use of masks is to modify a layer's alpha channel.  A mask consists of segments and vertices.
  26. (7) 2. Name two ways to adjust the shape of a mask.
    You can adjust the shape of a mask by dragging individual vertices, or by dragging a segment.
  27. (7) 3. What is a direction handle used for?
    A direction handle is used to control the shape and angle of a Bezier curve.
  28. (7) 4. What is the difference between an open mask and a closed mask?
    An open mask can be used to control effects or the placement of text; it does not define a region of transparency.  A closed mask defines a region that will affect the alpha channel of a layer.
  29. (7) 5. How is the Mask Feather tool useful?
    The Mask Feather tool lets you vary the width of feathering at different points on a mask.  With the Mask Feather tool, click to add a Feather point, and then drag it.
  30. (8) 1. What's the difference between the Puppet Pin tool and the Puppet Overlap tool?
    The Puppet Pin tool creates Deform pins, which define the position of a portion of the image as the image is deformed.  The Puppet Overlap tool creates Overlap pins, which determine which areas of an object remain in front when two areas overlap.
  31. (8) 2. When would you use the Puppet Starch tool?
    Use the Puppet Starch tool to add Starch pins to an area that you want to remain more rigid while other areas of the object are distorted.
  32. (8) 3. How can you make your animation more fluid?
    To make your animation more fluid, you can use the Easy Ease feature or roving keyframes.  Additionally, you can create smoother movement by increasing the number of triangles in the distortion mesh, but increasing the number of triangles also increases the time it takes to render the animation.
  33. (8) 4. Describe two methods of animating pin positions.
    You can manually animate pin positions by changing the value of teh Position property for each pin in the Timeline panel.  To animate pin positions more quickly, use the Puppet Sketch tool: With the Puppet Pin tool selected, press Command, and drag a pin to record its movement.
  34. (9) 1. Why would you need to color-correct a shot?
    Color correction is performed to optimize the source material, to focus attention on a key element in the shot, to correct errors in white balance and exposure, to ensure color consistency from one shot to another, or to create a color palette to match the visual look the director prefers.
  35. (9) 2. What does the SA Color Finesse 3 effect do?
    SA Color Finesse 3 is a third-party plug-in installed with After Effects CS6.  It performs a wide variety of color-correction effects, such as isolating a color range for enhancement.  SA Color Finesse 3 affects the original layer, ignoring any effects that have already been applied to the layer.
  36. (9) 3. What effect can you use to warm up the colors in an image?
    You can use the Photo Filter color-correction effect to warm up the color of an image.  The Photo Filter effect mimics the technique of using a colored filter over the lens of a camera to adjust the color balance and color temperature.  Choose the Warming Filter in the Photo Filter Effect Controls panel to warm up the color of an image.
  37. (9) 4. How can you clone an area across an entire timeline?
    To ensure that cloning occurs across the entire timeline, move the current-time indicator to the beginning of the time ruler, and then choose Constant from the Duration menu in the Paint panel.
  38. (10) 1. What happens to a layer when you select its 3D Layer switch?
    When you select a layer's 3D Layer switch in the Timeline panel, After Effects adds a third axis, the z axis, to the layer. You can then move and rotate the layer in three dimensions. In addition, the layer takes on new properties that are unique to 3D layers, such as the Material Options property group.
  39. (10) 2. Why is it important to look at multiple views of a composition that contains 3D layers?
    The appearance of 3D layers can be deceptive, depending on the view in the Composition panel.  By enabling 3D views, you can see the true position of a layer relative to other layers in the composition.
  40. (10) 3. What happens when you move a layer's Anchor Point values in the Timeline panel?
    When you adjust the Anchor Point values for a layer in the Timeline panel, the layer moves in the Composition panel even though its Position values remain the same.
  41. (10) 4. What is a camera layer?
    You can view After Effects 3D layers from any number of angles and distances using layers called cameras.  When you set a camera view for your composition, you look at the layers as though you were looking through that camera.  You can choose between viewing a composition through the active camera or through a named, custom camera.  If you have not created a custom camera, then the active camera is the same as the default composition view.
  42. (11) 1. How can you animate a 3D layer?
    Animating a 3D layer is similar to animating a 2D layer, except that you can move the object on three axis: the x axis, the y axis, and the z axis.  You can animate other Transform properties, effects, and other settings just as you would those for a 2D layer.
  43. (11) 2. How are 3D lights handled in After Effects?
    In After Effects, a light is a type of layer that shines light on other layers.  You can choose from among four different types of lights--Parallel, Spot, Point, and Ambient--and modify them with various settings.
  44. (11) 3. What is a point of interest?
    Cameras and lights include a property that specifies the spot in the composition at which the camera or light points.  By default, this point of interest is set at the center of the composition, and the camera or light's view is automatically oriented toward it.  You can change this behavior by choosing Layer > Transform > Auto-Orient.  Of course, you can move the point of interest at any time.
  45. (12) 1. What does the 3D Camera Tracker effect do?
    The new 3D Camera Tracker effect automatically analyzes the motion present in existing 2D footage, extracts the position and lens type of the real camera that shot the scene, and creates a new 3D camera in After Effects to match it.  The effect also overlays 3D track points onto the 2D footage, so you can easily attach new 3D layers onto the original footage.
  46. (12) 2. How can you make an added 3D element look like it is tha same size as elements that are farther from the camera?
    To make the object appear to recede, so that it looks like it's further from the camera, adjust its Scale property.  Adjusting the Scale property keeps its perspective locked with the rest of the composition.
  47. (12) 3. Can you use DSLR footage with the 3D Camera Tracker?
    Yes, but if you're using DSLR footage, first evaluate the footage to determine whether there is any wobbling, skewing, or other artifacts from a rolling shutter.  If there are any artifacts, correct the footage using the Roller Shutter Repair effect before applying the 3D Camera Tracker effect.
  48. (13) 1. What is the Warp Stabilizer, and when do you need to use it?
    Shooting footage using a handheld camera typically results in shaky shots.  Unless this look is intentional, you will want to stabilize the shots to eliminate unwanted motion.  The Warp Stabilizer in After Effects analyzes the movement and rotation of the target layer, and then makes adjustments to it. When played back, the motion appears smooth, because the layer itself moves incrementally to offset the unwanted motion.  You can change the way the Warp Stabilizer crops, scales, and performs other adjustments by modifying settings for the effect.
  49. (13) 2. Why might drifting occur when you're tracking an image?
    Drifting occurs when the feature region loses the feature that's being tracked.  As an image moves in a shot, the lighting, surrounding objects, and angle of the object can change, making a once-distant feature unidentifiable at the subpixel level.  Even with careful planning and practice, the feature region often drifts away from the desired feature.  Readjusting the feature and search regions, changing the tracking options, and trying again are all standard procedures in digital tracking.
  50. (13) 3. What is the birth rate in a particle effect?
    The birth rate in a particle effect determines how often new particles are created.
  51. (13) 4. What does the Timewarp effect do?
    The Timewarp effect gives you precise control over a wide range of parameters to change the playback speed of a layer, including interpolation methods, motion blur, and source cropping to eliminate unwanted artifacts.
  52. (14) 1. Name two types of templates, and explain when and why to use them.
    In After Effects, you can create templates for both render settings and output-module settings.  These templates are presets that you can use to streamline the setup process when you render items for the same type of delivery format. After you define these templates, they appear in the Render Queue panel on the appropriate pop-up menu (Render Settings or Output Module).  Then, when you're ready to render a job, you can simply select the template that is appropriate for the delivery format that your job requires, and the template applies all the settings.
  53. (14) 2. What is compression, and what are some issues associated with it?
    Compression is essential to reduce the size of movies so that they can be stored, transmitted, and played back effectively. When exporting or rendering a movie file for playback on a specific type of device at a certain bandwidth, you choose a compressor/decompressor, or codec, to compress the information and generate a file readable by that type of device at that bandwidth.  A wide range of codecs is available; no single codec is the best for all situations.  For example, the best codec for compressing cartoon animation is generally not efficient for compressing live-action video.  When compressing a movie file, you can fine-tune it for the best-quality playback on a computer, video playback device, the web, or from a DVD player.  Depending on which encoder you use, you may be able to reduce the size of compressed files by removing artifacts that interfere with compression, such as random camera motion and excessive film grain.
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Adobe After Effects CS6 Classroom in a Book All Review Questions
All lesson review questions.