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Adding Special Effects to a Multi-Layer Premiere File

This technique shows how different types of programs (in this case Illustrator, Premiere, and After Effects) work together to complete a final piece.
This sample chapter is from Applying Adobe After Effects 4 Studio Techniques, by Rod Harlan.

Chapter 3: Adding Special Effects to a Multi-Layer Premiere File

This technique shows how different types of programs work together to complete a final piece. In this example, a logo is created in an illustration program (Illustrator), video is captured and edited together, and a soundtrack is added in a DV editor (Premiere). Then the whole project is imported into a special effects program (After Effects) to add animation and that extra "Wow!" factor.


After Effects is not a video editing application. You could probably force it to act like one, but you're better off letting After Effects concentrate on what it does best: animation, compositing, and special effects.

A good non-linear video editor will let you play back video clips from the timeline in real-time. After Effects has to render its timeline to RAM or to disk to do this. For this reason, it's a good idea to do all of your basic video editing (trimming clips, placing them in order, adding music) in a program like Adobe Premiere and then import the whole project into Adobe After Effects for the final touches.

In this chapter, you'll import a completed Adobe Premiere project, learn about the problems that occur when importing, and get some ideas on how to jazz up your video piece in Adobe After Effects.

  1. Open a new project by selecting File_New_New Project.

  2. Figure 3.1


    Depending on your or your company's workflow, it may not be wise to put your entire project together in Premiere and then bring the whole piece into After Effects for final touches. With many projects, only pieces of the edited offline video are given over to an After Effects artist. The artist then creates titles, graphics, and effects before handing the rendered pieces back to the editor, who drops them into Premiere (or other video editor) and does the final cut and audio mix. This makes for smaller and more manageable clips in After Effects, with less editorial work for both the artist and editor.

  3. Import the Premiere project and all of the footage files associated with it by choosing File_Import_Premiere as Comp.

  4. Figure 3.2

  5. Navigate to the Artwork folder for this chapter and select zTour.ppj. Click Open.

  6. Figure 3.3


    The zTour project and files are the same ones included in the Premiere Demo that's included on the Book CD.


    If you notice the color bars appearing in the Project window thumbnail after importing zTour.ppj, don't panic. You'll fix this in a few steps.

  7. There's still one additional file that you need to add to your project that was not originally part of the Premiere project. To add this graphics file, choose File_Import_Footage File.

  8. Figure 3.4


    You can also import footage by doing the following:

    PC—Right-click in the project window, or press Ctrl+I.

    Mac—Hold down the Ctrl key and click in the project window, or press Cmd+I.

    Or you can simply double-click inside the Project window in the white area (not on a file).

  9. Now select VelomanPlain.eps in the Artwork folder for the chapter. Click Open.

  10. Figure 3.5

  11. Your project window should now look like the following figure.

  12. Figure 3.6

  13. Click on the triangle next to the zTour.ppj folder to display its contents.

  14. Figure 3.7

  15. Select Boys.mov by clicking once on the file in the zTour.ppj folder. Notice the color bars at the top and the word "Placeholder" to the side.

  16. Figure 3.8

    If the filename is in italics, the word "Placeholder" is next to it (under the Type heading), and color bars appear in the thumbnail, your files need to be relinked to their original media. This process of relinking media is very simple, and every After Effects user should know how to do it.

  17. To relink the footage, double-click on the Boys.mov file in the zTour.ppj folder in your project window. A dialog box opens.

  18. Figure 3.9

  19. Select the Boys.mov file in the Artwork folder for the chapter and click Open.

  20. Figure 3.10

  21. Notice how the word QuickTime now appears under the Type heading, where the word Placeholder used to be. This now shows the correct file type for Boys.mov.

  22. Figure 3.11

  23. Select Cyclers.mov and notice the generic color bars thumbnail icon at the top of the project window. This is another indication that the clip in the AE project window needs to be relinked with its original footage.

  24. Figure 3.12


    Most of the time your Premiere project file will import perfectly, with no relinking of media necessary. Creating your basic video piece in a non-linear editor like Premiere can be a huge timesaver. However, the zTour.ppj file forces you to relink media so that you'll know what to do if this situation ever arises. Normally, you'll be able to skip steps 9–16.

  25. Double-click on the Cyclers.mov file in the zTour.ppj folder in your project window. A dialog box opens.

  26. Figure 3.13

  27. Once again, select the Cyclers.mov file in the Artwork folder for the chapter and click Open.

  28. Figure 3.14

  29. The correct thumbnail icon now appears at the top of the project window. The information to the right of the thumbnail icon now includes the number of colors and compression type used.

  30. Figure 3.15

  31. Repeat steps 13 and 14 for the rest of the files in the zTour.ppj folder until all files are relinked with their original media.

  32. Figure 3.16


    In addition to the four QuickTime movie files, there's one audio-only QuickTime file and an Abobe Illustrator .eps file.

    Now that you've imported the Premiere project file, all media files, and the additional graphic file that you plan to use for this project, it's time to see what the Premiere project looks like in the After Effects Time Layout window. You'll also learn about the parts of a Premiere project that After Effects does not import and how you can fix this. Now would be a good time to save your project.


    As a general rule, it's a good idea to save your project periodically throughout the creative process. This will save you many headaches in the long run. It's also a good idea to save your project with different names throughout the process (project a, project b, project c, etc.). This way you can go back a few steps if you see that your experimentation has taken you in a different direction than where you want to end up.

  33. Double-click on the zTour.ppj composition at the bottom of your Project window. This will open the Time Layout window and the Composition window.

  34. Figure 3.17

  35. All of the Premiere timeline has been transferred over to After Effects, including video, audio, and graphic files. The faintly colored outline (white area) before or after each individual layer shows you where the original clip was trimmed in Premiere.

  36. Figure 3.18

  37. However, not all items transfer seamlessly from Premiere to After Effects. Layer 6 is a cross dissolve that was not imported. Select this layer by clicking on it once with your mouse.

  38. Figure 3.19

  39. Now press the Delete key on your keyboard to send this layer into oblivion.

  40. Figure 3.20


    Adobe After Effects cannot import transitions, applied filter effects, color mattes, or titles from Adobe Premiere. These items must be reapplied inside After Effects.

    Therefore, if you're planning to work with both After Effects and Premiere, it's best to use Premiere as a cuts-only editor and to use it to synch sound to your video clips.

    At this point, there are a number of ways to add a dissolve-type effect to the required clips. This will replace the cross dissolve that did not transfer over from Premiere. The following steps show just one possibility.

  41. Select the Fastslow.mov file, which is now layer 6.

  42. Figure 3.21

  43. Move the Fastslow.mov file from layer 6 to in-between Finale.mov and Cyclers.mov (layers 3 and 4).

  44. Figure 3.22

  45. With Fastslow.mov still selected, press the letter I on your keyboard to go to the IN point of the layer.

  46. Figure 3.23

  47. Now press the letter T on your keyboard to reveal the Opacity property.

  48. Figure 3.24

  49. Click once on the Opacity stopwatch icon to set an Opacity keyframe.

  50. Figure 3.25

  51. Next, click on the underlined 100% Opacity value to open up the Opacity dialog box.

  52. Figure 3.26


    Wherever you see an underlined value in After Effects, you can click on it to enter the value numerically in a dialog box.

  53. In the Opacity settings window, change the setting to 0%. Click OK.

  54. Figure 3.27

  55. Move the Time Marker to 8:00 seconds.

  56. Figure 3.28

  57. Click on the 0% Opacity value to open up the Opacity settings window again, but this time, type in a setting of 100%. Click OK.

  58. Figure 3.29

  59. Make a RAM preview and check out your new dissolve transition.

  60. Figure 3.30


    RAM previews are meant to show portions of the composition rather than the entire thing, and how much you see depends on how much free RAM you have. For this reason, be sure to temporarily adjust your composition's work area markers before creating a RAM preview. The quickest method is to set the Current Time marker at the desired beginning, press the hotkey B, move the marker to the desired end, and press the hotkey N.

    With the beginning and end Work Area markers set, there are two methods to create a RAM preview. Go to Window, Show Time Controls (or press Ctrl+3 on the PC or Cmd+3 on the Mac) and click the arrow button on the far right of the Time Controls box. Or, press 0 on your keyboard's numeric keypad.


    If you hold down the Shift key while making a RAM preview, After Effects will only cache every other frame. This trick can be a huge timesaver, especially if the only reason you're making a RAM preview is to check the basic motion of your layers.

    Now it's time to give your logo a little love. Right now, the Veloman.eps logo... well... it just sits there. No life, no action, just a big fat logo sitting on top of your video. The next few steps will bring your logo to life. Now would be a good time to save your project.

  61. Select the Veloman.eps file in the Time Layout window (layer 1).

  62. Figure 3.31

  63. Click once on the Quality switch to set it to Best (you should see a forward slash).

  64. Figure 3.32

  65. Press the letter I on your keyboard to go to the IN point of the layer.

  66. Figure 3.33

  67. Press the letter S on your keyboard to reveal the Scale property for this layer.

  68. Figure 3.34

  69. Click once on the Scale stopwatch icon to set a Scale keyframe.

  70. Figure 3.35


    Continuous rasterization means recalculating a file's resolution inside of the project whenever you preview or render so it displays at full resolution regardless of size.

  71. Next, click on the 100% Scale value to open up the Scale settings dialog box.

  72. Figure 3.36


    There's no need to turn on Continuous Rasterization because the graphics Scale will be at 100% or less. Just make sure your quality setting is set to Best when you render.


    Restricting your vector graphics Scale parameter to 100% or less allows After Effects to treat it like any other pixel-based graphic, and it will automatically anti-alias your object. Not enabling Continuous Rasterization when your Scale is set at 100% or less will save you render time.

  73. In the Scale settings dialog box, change the setting to 0% of the source. Make sure that Preserve Frame Aspect Ratio is selected. Click OK.

  74. Figure 3.37

  75. Move the Time Marker to 27:00 seconds.

  76. Figure 3.38

  77. Click on the 0% Scale value to open up the Scale settings dialog box. This time, type in a setting of 100% to add a second Scale keyframe. Click OK.

  78. Figure 3.39

    If you make a RAM preview or press the Spacebar on your keyboard to play through the work you've just completed, you'll will see that you've scaled the logo from nothing to full-screen over the background clip of your cyclists. This is okay, but a little more animation will make it better. Now would be a good time to save.

  79. With the Veloman.eps file still selected, press the letter I on your keyboard to go to the IN point of the layer.

  80. Figure 3.40

  81. Press the letter R on your keyboard to open up the Rotation property.

  82. Figure 3.41

  83. Click once on the Rotation stopwatch icon to set a keyframe. (Since the Rotation control automatically starts at 0, you don't need to do anything more.)

  84. Figure 3.42

  85. Press the letter O on your keyboard to go to the OUT point of the layer.

  86. Figure 3.43

  87. Click on the underlined 0.0° Rotation value to open up the Rotation settings dialog box.

  88. Figure 3.44

  89. In the Rotation settings dialog box, change Revolutions to 3. Click OK.

  90. Figure 3.45

    Make a RAM preview to see your animated logo, which scales up to full size while rotating. Not bad. But all this was to make up for the properties that weren't imported from Premiere. Now it's time to add some compositing tricks that are unique to After Effects. You will now create a "window to the world" effect, with all of your footage taking place inside of the basic shape of your Veloman logo. Now would be a good time to save your project.

  91. Create a new composition by choosing Composition_New Composition.

  92. Figure 3.46


    You can also create a new composition by pressing Ctrl+N on the PC or Cmd+N on the Mac.

  93. In the Composition Settings dialog box, place your Premiere project in a 320x240 composition window because this will be the size of your finished movie. You're going to work at 15 frames per second, with a duration of 30 seconds. Name the composition Veloman Final. Click OK when you're done.

  94. Figure 3.47

  95. Drag the zTour.ppj composition from the Project window to the Time Layout window.

  96. Figure 3.48

  97. Make sure the Time Marker is still set at 0:00, and drag the VelomanPlain.eps file from the Project window to the Time Layout window.

  98. Figure 3.49


    Do not confuse the VelomanPlain.eps file with the Veloman.eps file.

  99. Change the background color of your composition by choosing Composition_Background Color.

  100. Figure 3.50

  101. Click once on the eyedropper icon in the Background Color dialog box.

  102. Figure 3.51

  103. Now click on the beige VelomanPlain.eps graphic in the Composition window. Click OK.

  104. Figure 3.52


    You're clicking on the beige VelomanPlain.eps graphic to sample this color as your background color.

  105. Click once on the Quality switch to set VelomanPlain.eps (layer 1) to Best (you should see a forward slash).

  106. Figure 3.53

    Notice how the background color of your composition is now the exact color of your logo. Here's where the magic begins.

  107. In the Time Layout window, select zTour.ppj (layer 2).

  108. Figure 3.54

  109. Change your view to Modes by clicking once on Switches/Modes at the bottom of the Time Layout window.

  110. Figure 3.55

  111. Change the track matte for zTour.ppj (layer 2) from None to Luma Matte "VelomanPlain.eps".

  112. Figure 3.56


    Track Matte sets up a matte and fill relationship between two layers positioned on top of each other in the layer stack. Once enabled, the Track Matte allows the bottom layer to show through areas of the top layer based on the top layer's alpha or luminance values.

    A Luma Matte allows the bottom layer to show through areas of the top layer that have luminance values of greater than 0%. Areas that have luminance values of 100% are completely opaque, and those with values between 1% and 99% are semitransparent.

    Make a RAM preview or press the Spacebar on your keyboard to play through the work you've just completed. You've created a "window to the world" effect, with all of your footage taking place inside of the basic shape of your Veloman logo. Now let's add a little movement to this window. Now would be a good time to save.

  113. Change your view back to Switches by clicking once on Switches/Modes at the bottom of the Time Layout window.

  114. Figure 3.57

  115. Select VelomanPlain.eps (layer 1) and press the letter I on your keyboard to bring you back to Time Marker 0:00.

  116. Figure 3.58

  117. Press the letter R on your keyboard to bring up the Rotation property.

  118. Figure 3.59

  119. Click once on the Rotation stopwatch icon to set a keyframe. (Since the Rotation control automatically starts at 0, you don't need to do anything more.

  120. Figure 3.60

  121. Press the letter O on your keyboard to go to the OUT point of the layer.

  122. Figure 3.61

  123. Click on the underlined 0.0° Rotation value to open up the Rotation settings dialog box.

  124. Figure 3.62

  125. In the Rotation settings dialog box, change Revolutions to –2. Click OK.

  126. Figure 3.63

    Now make a RAM preview or scrub through the Time Layout window using the jog shuttle. Notice the counterclockwise rotation of your "window to the world." This effect works especially well in the last five seconds of the composition, contrasted against the clockwise rotation of the Veloman logo. If it looks the way you want it to, move on to the next steps. If not, go back and change the number of revolutions.

    If you're happy with your project after looking at the RAM preview, it's time to render your final movie with all the correct settings for your appropriate output and/or distribution method. Now would be a good time to save your project. See the adjacent note about increasing and decreasing revolutions.

  127. With the current Composition or Time Layout window as the active window, or with the composition's name/icon selected in the Project window, go up to your menu bar and select Composition_Make Movie.

  128. Figure 3.64


    You change the number of revolutions to adjust the speed. The more revolutions, the faster it spins. The fewer revolutions, the slower the rotation.


    You can also do the Make Movie command by pressing Ctrl+M on the PC or Cmd+M on the Mac.

  129. A Save Movie As dialog box opens. Save the movie as Veloman.mov to your desired folder or directory.

  130. Figure 3.65

  131. The Render Queue opens next. Here you need to change Render Settings from Current Settings to Best Settings.

  132. Figure 3.66

  133. Next, click on the underlined Output Module setting and change the output module to your choice of format (QuickTime Movie was used in this example). Check Import into project when done so you can quickly see your movie once it's finished rendering.

  134. Figure 3.67

  135. In the same Output Module Settings dialog box, click on the Format Options button in the Video Output section.

  136. Figure 3.68

  137. The Compression Settings dialog box pops up. Choose Sorenson Video as your compressor, and set it to Best quality. Click OK.

  138. Figure 3.69

  139. Since this project has an audio track, click on the Audio Output check box and use these settings: 22.050 KHz, 8 Bit, Mono. Click OK.

  140. Figure 3.70


    If the Audio Output check box is not checked, no audio will be rendered.

  141. When the render queue is finally ready, click Render.

  142. Figure 3.71


    If you checked the Import into project when done checkbox in the Output Module, simply double-click on the movie icon in your Project window.


    If you plan on sharing your project file with others, especially cross-platform, you need to add the .aep extension to your project name.

    After the render is complete, play your movie to make sure it came out the way you expected. If all is well, save your final project as Veloman Premiere.

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