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Create an opener for your movie (Effects & Techniques)
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Posted on October 6th, 2005
Adobe After Effects
This will be a kind of long tutorial, since there are many things to be done.
I will provide you with 2 files that I've used in my project. be aware that ALL the settings need to be changed if you take any other timings then me.

- Live Example can be found on the last page

PreStep 1: So let's start with a new composition with a size of 320x240px and a length of 10 seconds.
Import the 2 mpeg files included in the ZIP package.

PreStep 2: First of all we need to prepare the 2 footage files:
- solidpowder_part1.mpg - Doesn't need any editing :)
- solidpowder_part2.mpg - MarkIn: 00:03 - MarkOut: 04:13

How do you create a markin and markout?
- Doubleclick on the video you want to "cut" in the library, and you will see that a new window will open up.
Markin & MarkOut

Here you can set the in & out marks easily with this two parentheses at the end of your cutting work, the video can be pasted into the timeline with the button on the far right of the window.
Here a screenshot for better understanding
Markin & MarkOut 2

You don't need to insert the video file right now, the settings will be saved as soon as you open the video again.
I've just wanted to give you this advice at the beginning of the tutorial :)

Now let us start doing some serious work. The creation of the title

Step 1
Just create some nice text for the beginning of the video, I've used the film title and where you can grab it :)

This can be done either by doing a right-click on the timeline and choosing New -> Text or by selecting the type button on your tools palette, I prefere the first method since the text will be automatically centered.
Set the length of the text to 3 seconds by dragging the last handle of the layer to the left.

I already mentioned in one of my older tutorials that you should not re-invent the wheel, AE 6.5 has some nice text presets use them. they will make your life easier :) Presets can be found by pressing CTRL+F5, you will also find a preview of all the presets by going to the help menu and selecting the "text preset gallery"

On our video I've used the HorseFly Preset, just drag and drop the effect in our textlayer, now when you press the U key, you will see that the effect created several keyframes on your textlayer, if the timing is correct then the animation will end just before the 3 seconds mark, otherwise you will have to select ALL of the last keyframes and drag them to the position you want by holding the ALT key.

When you press 0 on your numerical keypad, the movie will be rendered, and you will see that our letters will be flying around for a while and build up our title, this looks good already, but I want to add some Blur into the effect.
For that select the text layer and press the F3 key to open up the effects window, do a right-click on that window and choose Blur -> Fast Blur, I've created a few keyframes on the blur effect.
Keyframes can be created by clickin on the small stopwatch icon beneath the effect
Fast Blur

1st Keyframe at 00:00 with a blur value of 20
2nd Keyframe at 00:22 with a blur value of 20
3rd Keyframe at 02:12 with a blur value of 0

This will make our letters blurry and unreadable but then a fast change to readable and clear.

Here a screenshot of my blurry type:
Result Blur

Ok, the title animation is now done, Let's move on to the most advanced but the coolest part of this turial the time remapping part.

Still with me? Cool, let's move on with the next video.

Step 2:
Let's put the video file named "solidpowder_part2.mpg" in our timeline, right after the text animations ends, on our case that should be at 03:00 seconds.

First of all I will give you an overview of the timeline for this videolayer:
This looks pretty complicated.. I will give my best to make it as easy as possible to understand.
I will separate every effect I do on a new step for a better overview.

Step 3: Scaling
Let us start with something easy, we will scale our movie once to the give the movie the effect that the camera is going close to the snowboarder on the air.
To accomplish this effect we will need to set a few keyframes on the scale effect, to keep our timeline "clean" just press the S key to open the scale properties. Here a list of the keyframes I've set

03:00 - Scale 100%
04:00 - Scale 252%
04:17 - Scale 252%
05:10 - Scale 100%
You can play around with these values, I've used it because I like it :)
Preview your movie to see how it looks should see the snowboarder driving down to the ramp, then zooming in as soon as he's airborn and then zoom back when he's about to land.

Step 4: Threshold effect
The threshold effect.. I can't explain what it does, or what is possible with it, here the description of the effect taken from the help file :)
The Threshold effect lets you convert grayscale or color images to high-contrast, black-and-white images. Specify a certain level as a threshold; all pixels lighter than the threshold are converted to white and all pixels darker to black.

So after this VERY VERY helpful explanation ;) let us go on with our video.

Select the videolayer, and press the F3 key to get your effects window, then right-click on it and select Adjust -> CC Threshold
As you can see on my screenshot, I've activated 2 stopwatches, one for the threshold value and one for the blend.

If the Blend value is 100% you will not see any difference on the video, but try to move it down to 50 or 0, then you will see what it really does.
In our case we will set a few keyframes again to give our video this effect, here the keyframes I've created

03:00 - Threshold 68 / Blend 100%
03:17 - Threshold 68 / Blend 0%
04:05 - Threshold 72 / Blend 0%
05:21 - Threshold 68 / Blend 100%

This settings will threshold our video at the moment that the boarder is airborn, the idea behind is simple.

Step 5: Time Remap
Well timeremapping.. means as much as holding the video for a few frames or speeding it up or down for an amount of time, this is one of the best effects I've ever seen.. but you can only see it properly when the footage was shoot at a high frame rate like 60fps and more.
One good example of the time remapping is seen on many tv ads where the drives upon you and then everything freezes for a moment and suddenly it drives away very fast. There a few ads like that in europe.

Back to topic, we are not able to stop our video for a long time, since it has been shot with a low framerate, but we can stop it for a few frames, that should be enough to show you something.

Again select our video layer and go to Layer -> Enable Time Remapping or just press CTRL+ALT+T.

Since these values need to be done for each different video/scene, my setting will not give you the same result, like mine, you really need to play around with the handlers, to get the best out of it.
Here again the keyframes I've created

02:23 - Time Remap: 00.00 - normal keyframe
04:05 - Time Remap: 01.07 - Easy Ease (F9)
05:18 - Time Remap: 02.06 - Easy Ease Out (Shift+F9)
07:12 - Time Remap: 04.02 - normal keyframe

This is how your timeline should look like:

Try to get your curves as similar as mine to achieve the effect that I've created.
I warmly advise you to have a look at the Time Remapping section of the Help File, it helped me alot to understand this effect.

ok, now preview your movie by pressing 0 on your numerical keypad, and look what happens.
1. Title animation
2. Snowboarder drives to ramp
3. Threshold comes in place, zoom effect
4. movie freeze for a few frames
5. threshold fades off, zoom out
6. boarder landing

okeydokey.. now let us create a nametag for the snowboarder during the jump.

Step 6: Name Tag

As always when you want to create a new text on your video, right-click on the timeline and chosse New -> Text I've typed the name of the snowboarder "Tapio Kuusakoski".
Place it on the top-right corner of your video, there is some nice blank space to put a name on.
If you want to know which font I've used it's named Base 02 with a size of 28px

Now we don't want to just let the text appear and disappear.. that would be somehow boring. Let's animate it
First of all position the nametag at time 04:01 and drag the right handle (length) to 04:21, that's nearly the time where the movie will freeze.
As mentioned before we will again drag a text effect preset to this layer, but this time I've chosen the Wiggly Lines preset.

Here a screenshot of my keyframe positioning, I've additionaly created an opacity animation to fade out the type on the last 10 frames.. (the opacity properties can be called by pressing the T key while the layer is selected).

If you preview this part, you will see that our text flies in from the right side line by line, and then disappears again quickly, those 10 frames of fadeout, are needed so the viewer doesn't see an abrupt transition of the text.

Step 7: Second Video

I don't want to leave you with just one video, so let us drop a second one, and I will show you a cool effect.
Place the "..part2_01.mpeg" video underneath the video layer we've created before, not right after the other one ends, but at about 07:05 seconds.
As you scrub with your playhead between that part you will see that you will not see anything from the new video till the first video ends.. let's us change that with a nice transition.

Select the first video layer we've made before and press the F3 key to bring up the effects window, as always do a right click there and select Transition -> CC Jaws as the name said, there will be some jaws that will show the new video :)
For that go to time 07:05 and click on the small stopwatch beneath completion to set a keyframe, the value of that keyframe should stay at 0% (meaning jaws are closed), then move your playhead to 07:11 and change the value of completion to 100% (jaws open).

That's it! the transition is done :) that was easy

Now select the second video and press the F3 key for the effects window and choose Time -> Echo, the echo effect combines frames from different times in a layer, so that you have a double, triple view effect on the same video, depending on the settings you've applied. Here the screenshot with the settings I've used:
There is no need of setting keyframes for our video, since the outcome is like I wanted.

Here a short explanation on the properties and settings of the echo effect:

Echo Time: Time in sec between echoes, negative values goes backward, positive values goes forward.
Number of Echoes: no need of explanation
Starting Intensity: Could also mean the transparency of the echoes.
Decay: Lifetime of every single echo.
Echo Operator: Like in Photoshop different layering like (sceen, darken, lighten)

If you arrived to this step, then congratulations you really came far!!! :)
I've included in my ZIP file an AIF file named sound.aif this is a track that a friend of mine choosed for this video.

So just add the sound file to your projectwindow by right-clicking and import -> file
Drag the sound to your timeline and ensure that the sound starts at position 00:00.

That's it.. you're done with the biggest and hardest tutorial I've ever created. I think I gave you a pretty good start to let your mind flow, and to get creative with after effects.


Stay tuned for more tutorials soon

Funkysoul aka. Tiago Dias

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