In the previous article, you learned how to use Photoshop to remove the background of a photo so that you can use the main subject in your Photeo; you also learned how to combine deconstructed images into compositions using After Effects. The next step in scavenger Photeo development requires moving the timelines (compositions) we’ve created in After Effects to Premiere Pro.
We still need to add movement and a third dimension to the images we deconstructed in Photoshop, so it’s back to After Effects. This is a piece of cake, really, if you’ve ever “tweened” an image on a timeline in Flash. This is about the same thing, except it’s a bit easier and more flexible.
Coordinating movements is easy because you can “scrub” the timeline in After Effects the same way you can in Premiere Pro. An animation works like a video in After Effects, so in essence it is a video. We’re also going to add a third dimension to the Photeo in this part. This will be easy 3-D, and we’re not going to look at camera movement or adding lights or any other tricks. You’ll be able to easily figure out those tricks on your own after you’re done with this article.
Premiere Pro works hand-in-hand with After Effects to create dynamically linked objects inside After Effects. Premiere Pro actually puts the timeline from a composition on the Premiere Pro timeline. You can find the video tutorial below, and you will find the written instructions next.
Importing After Effects compositions dynamically into Premiere Pro
In the first part of this article, I’ll show you how to set up a Premiere Pro project and import After Effects compositions into Premiere Pro by using dynamic linking.
To work along with me, you will need Adobe After Effects v.3 or higher, and Premiere Pro CS3 (or later).
A little background
Dynamically linking together an After Effects project or composition and Premiere Pro using the dynamic link tool is a powerful technique, with many uses in addition to eLearning and Photeo creation. You can seamlessly change a file in After Effects and the changes will appear in the linked Premiere Pro project.
Before dynamic linking, if you wanted to import an After Effects composition into Premiere Pro, you had to work on the composition in After Effects, and then render it as an AVI video file. Then if you wanted to make a change in the After Effects part of your Premiere Pro timeline, you had to go into After Effects, make your changes, render it again to an AVI video file, and then re-import it into Premiere Pro. Since creating a timeline-based project is an iterative process, meaning that you repeatedly refine it, the back and forth movement of files and the rendering in After Effects was time-consuming and tedious. It worked, but it seemed to take forever when you were waiting for a render to finish.
When Adobe first released dynamic linking in 2006, it was buggy; the link between the two programs frequently got lost. That was Premiere Pro 2. By the time Adobe got to the CS Suites, dynamic linking had improved, but was still not without some bugs. Beginning with CS5, Adobe seems to have worked the bugs out of the system. It’s a complex process and even has an “Adobe Dynamic Link Server,” so the bugs were natural. But now it’s mostly seamless. The improved workflow can save you a lot of time when working through a project. And we all know what time equals.
Now we’ll set up a Premiere Pro project and dynamically link the After Effects project we did in the fourth article of this series.
Setting up your Premiere Pro project
Open Premiere Pro. When you first open the program, it will present you with a dialog that lists recent projects and supports starting a new project. Click on New Project. You’ll then see the screen in Figure 1, where you can select how you’ll render, in which formats, and the folder where you will store the project. (NOTE: If you’ve got a computer or laptop with a recent NVidia card you’re lucky, because you can use the Mercury Playback Engine, Adobe’s technology that opens projects faster and provides substantial improvements in features for video professionals. If not, Premiere Pro does a pretty good job of keeping your video up-to-date.)
Figure 1: The New Project dialog.
At the bottom of the New Project dialog, browse to your Housekeeping project file and select that folder, then give your project a name. Don’t click on OK just yet. At the top of the New Project dialog, click on the Scratch Disks tab and for all your captured video, audio, and previews, click on the dropdown menu and select Same as Project. Premiere Pro will create separate folders for you. Now you can click on OK, and yet another dialog will appear. This is the New Sequence dialog (Figure 2). Click on the DV – NTSC twirly, select Standard 48kHz, and click on OK. Premiere will now build the panels and timeline for you.
Figure 2: The New Sequence dialog.
Importing the assets for your project
The term “assets” refers to anything you use in your project. Anything. If all the assets you created or downloaded are in your housekeeping folder, you can either click on File > Import or double click in the project bin (default position is the upper left corner), then navigate to the folder where you put all the pictures, video clip, and sounds.
Select the assets you want. You can select multiple assets by holding down the control key while selecting. There are several kinds of assets in this project, and since the pictures you worked on in Photoshop are already in the After Effects composition you don’t have to import them into Premiere Pro. You need to import the SFX we found for the thump, ring tone, and vacuum cleaner, as well as the video clip. Select everything you want and click OK. They’ll now appear in your project bin and you can drag the assets to the timeline. Below is a list of the assets I used in “Housekeeping.”
Assets in “Housekeeping” Photeo:
- Good Housekeeping Seal
- SFX – Thump sounds (2)
- SFX – Vacuum cleaner sound
- White box – (made in AE)
- Toilet picture
- Cell phones (9) – I found some vintage shots too … just for the fun of it
- SFX – ringtone 1
- SFX – Cell phone buzz
- Words – Housekeeping Stuff
- Words – When You Gotta Go
- Words – Cell phones off or at least on buzz
- Words – Or this will happen to you
- SFX – Ringtone 2
- Video cadged from YouTube
Remember, only import the assets you need in Premiere Pro. One example is the SFX. After Effects isn’t the program to add sounds to the project. After Effects can do many things, and a lot depends on your style of working, which is a completely different topic. There’s no one absolutely right style and workflow for completing these kinds of projects. So there’s no one right way to do this. Part of the process is to figure out what works best for your own personality and style.
Dynamically linking your After Effects project
There’s one last task before we go back to After Effects, and that’s to dynamically link the project to Premiere Pro. Click on File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import After Effects Composition. You’ll see this dialog box in Figure 3. All you have to do is find the After Effects project (AEP file extension), which I saved in the same folder as the rest of the project. When you click on the AEP file, you’ll see the composition appear in the right hand side of that box. Comp 1 is the name of our After Effects composition in this case. Click on that and click OK, and you’ll see the “Dynamic Link Server” start at the bottom of that box.
The composition will now dynamically link to the Premiere Pro project – it will show up in the Project Bin as another asset. Drag it down to the timeline and it’s now in the show, so to speak. When you go back and work on the After Effects part of this project, any changes you make in the After Effects composition will show up in the Premiere Pro timeline. It’s a very powerful way to leverage the abilities of After Effects into your Premiere Pro Photeo project.
Figure 3: The Import After Effects Composition dialog is where you link your project to Premiere Pro.
Note: This Dynamic Linking stuff is not for a faint-hearted computer. You need a computer with at least two cores (most chips today have four cores) and 8GB of RAM. The more the better. These are powerful programs that take processing power and memory, and it’s really fun when you can Alt+Tab between them, make changes and watch them sort of magically appear when you move from one to the other.
That’s it for this part of the production. Next we’ll be working between After Effects and Premiere Pro. I’m hoping you’ll be following along and doing the Alt+Tab thing with me.
Working with the timeline and animating in After Effects
We’re coming down the home stretch! Now we’re going to move back to Premiere Pro and tweak the video/animation further, add our sound effects, and render the project to whatever format you’re going to need to deliver this part of it. This part is a little longer than the previous tutorials, but that’s because we’re adding sound and going through the final iterations in the project. We’ll be switching between Premiere Pro and After Effects, so you’ll be able to see the dynamic effects of timeline changes in one as applied to the other.
What you’ll learn: How to create motion in (very) basic 3-D in After Effects.
Software used: Adobe After Effects v.3 and up, Premiere Pro CS3 and later.
This is quite an easy thing to accomplish. In this section, you’ll walk through animating the woman with the mop, making it 3-D, and making the words Housekeeping Stuff disappear as she moves. You will want to watch the video of this process, though, because it will make it easier to follow the written tutorial below.
Open the Housekeeping file in After Effects
Once the file is open, go to File > Import, and import the woman with the mop and the Good Housekeeping Seal. Now, in the file menu click on Layer > New > New Solid. Click on the button that says Make Comp Size, then click on the color box and make sure it’s 255, 255, 255. Click OK; the box is now on the timeline at composition length, probably at the top of the stack of assets on the timeline (woman with mop and Good Housekeeping Seal). Click on where it says “Solid 1,” and drag it down to the bottom of the stack, so it’s literally underneath everything else.
Move the Good Housekeeping Seal to the timeline
After you import the pictures, take the goodhousekeeping.png file and move it to the screen or drag it down to the timeline. Note that it fills up the entire 30 seconds of the timeline, so take your mouse to the end of the timeline and when you see the double-headed arrow, click and move it to the left to about the six-second mark.
Also note that the words (“Housekeeping Stuff”) we made move before are also on the timeline, under the Good Housekeeping Seal. We put them there earlier in the process but we made them shorter than the 30 seconds as well. Just grab the red bar in the timeline and move it to the right so you can work on the Good Housekeeping Seal movement. Your timeline will look like Figure 4.
Figure 4: The Good Housekeeping Seal on the timeline.
Note that the bars are different colors: purple bar for the Good Housekeeping Seal, red bar for the words. Different media types in After Effects have different colors assigned to them. It makes it a bit easier to keep track of the assets. Also, there’s a lot of room under the two objects on our timeline. Don’t worry about that because we’re going to take up that room as we use the twirlies.
Working with Scale and Opacity
Twirl down the Good Housekeeping and you’ll see the basics of working with objects: Position, Scale, Rotation, and Opacity. We’re going to work with Scale. If the timeline is at zero and you can see the seal, click on it and make it the size and position you want on the screen. Now click on the stopwatch next to Scale (you haven’t done anything with Scale as far as the timeline is concerned, so if you enlarged the seal, it won’t affect anything).
After you click on the stopwatch, you’ll see a little yellow diamond placed on the timeline. Now move the cursor to about the four-second mark on the timeline and then move the cursor so it’s over the Scale. It doesn’t matter which number it’s over – they’re linked. You’ll see the little hand with a double-headed arrow; you can drag one of the Scale percentages to make it smaller. Now you want to make the seal bounce a little, so drag the timeline over about another ½ to one second and Scale the seal a little larger. Then drag the timeline a little farther, almost to the end of the purple bar, and make it smaller again. You’ll have four diamonds now that look like they’re spaced like the ones in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Manipulating the Good Housekeeping Seal.
Move the timeline back to zero (or hit the home key), click on the stopwatch next to Opacity, and click on the Opacity number (which by default is 100%). A little box will open and enter zero. Move the timeline down about ½ to ¾ of a second, and click on the Opacity number again and make it 100%. You’ve just made the seal fade in.
Now you can look at your handiwork. Hit the zero key on the numeric keypad and it will load the file up into memory. See if you like the movement so the seal looks like it’s dropping and then bouncing. You can move the little diamond timeline key frames back, either individually or grouped, and make the seal fall down the way you want. When you’re satisfied with the movement, there’s one last thing to do – make the seal fade out. Move the cursor to the 5 ½ second (or so) point on the timeline and go all the way to the left of Opacity and you’ll see a little diamond and an arrow that looks suspiciously like a twirly. Click on the diamond. That will add a key frame on the timeline that has the same value as the previous key frame (100%). Now move the timeline cursor to the end of the purple line and click on Opacity again and make it zero. You’ve just made the seal fade out.
Making the woman with mop move and make the words disappear
Grab the womanwithmop.png and drag it to the timeline or to the screen. Remember, by default it will run the entire length of the composition. Go to the right side and make it about five or six seconds long, then grab the words bar and move it to the right. We’ll be using them in a minute.
Go back to the woman with the mop, twirl down the twirly, and make her fade in just like you did with the seal. Make sure she’s scaled the way you want and move her to the left side of the screen. We haven’t clicked on the position stopwatch yet, so there’s no need to worry about creating movement. Put the cursor at the beginning of her sequence and click on the 3-D box that’s to the right of the file name, where you see a bunch of symbols. The 3-D symbol looks like a little 3-D box and has a check box under it. Click on her 3-D check box and you’ll see a whole lot of new stuff appear under Scale and before Opacity.
Click on the position stopwatch and move the cursor to the three second or so position in her bar. Then click on the number furthest to the right in position (there are now three axes: x, y and z) and move it to the right. She’ll move to the right as well, and you’ll have another key frame with the new position.
Now for some fun. Move the cursor a bit to the right, click on the stopwatch by the “Y Rotation” value, move the timeline cursor down about a half-second, open the second box (the first is the number of full 360° rotations), and put in the value of 180°. She has now turned around. Click on the diamond all the way to the left next to the position values and click on the diamond. Move the cursor to the 5 ½ second mark (approximately) on her timeline and move her back to the left with the first number in the box. Click on the diamond at the far left of Y Rotation, move the timeline cursor a few frames to the right, then click on the 180° value and make it zero. You’ve now made her move back and forth across the screen and turn around. In Figure 6, you can see the boxes around the image and the line where she will move across the screen.
Figure 6: The final position of the lady with the mop.
There’s only a few more steps in this phase. Click on the Layer menu > New > Solid and change the dimensions to 200 pixels wide and 400 pixels tall. Make sure the white is 255, 255, 255, so it blends in with the background. Move the box over our lady friend, then grab the name (for whatever reason it’s called White Solid 2 in this composition) and move it under the lady. Position the cursor at the zero point for both the woman and the square, making sure she fades in above the box. Normally, we’d need to make the box move, but since we mostly want it to move with her, we can use the Pick Whip. To the right of the name of White Solid 1 (or 2 in my case), there’s a little spiral thing. Grab that with your mouse and you’ll see a little string come out. Drag that string up to the womanwithmop.png name and you’ll have made the white box a child to her (isn’t that sweet!) and it will move in lockstep with her. We can still change parameters in the box.
Make the words appear and disappear
Move the cursor back and forth across the timeline until she and the box get about 100 pixels into the movement. Then move the words next to the cursor so they appear after she passes (we’ll fix the words hanging out in a bit) – the words take up the left two-thirds of the screen. Since our lady and the box move in concert, move them across the timeline. As she moves to the right, the words Housekeeping Stuff will appear (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Making the words appear – screen and timelines.
At the end of the movement to the right, she turns around and the words all appear for a moment before she starts her way back left. Drag the timeline cursor further to the right and the words will appear behind her. On the frame before the words appear on the right, click on the stopwatches in the solid for Scale and Position. Keep moving the cursor to the right, and as soon as she turns around unlink click on the chain next to Scale, move the Scale to make the horizontal dimension grow, and move the horizontal position at the same time to make the box move to the right until you have all the words covered. Now as she moves to the right, the words uncover and as she moves back to the left the words disappear. Save the After Effects project. Cool.
Moving to the Premiere Pro timeline
Now open the project we started in Premiere Pro. You’ll see the After Effects timeline updated with all the work you did in After Effects. Double cool. Click on the dynamic link on the timeline, then right click on it and click on unlink. Don’t worry, you’re not decoupling it from After Effects; we’re just going to get rid of the sound track we don’t need (Figure 8). Click on the sound track; it should light up all on its own and you can delete it. Now you’re ready to add sound effects, make the whole thing work on the timeline, and finish the project on your own. You have all the skills you need to do this project now! It’s yours.
Figure 8: Removing the sound track.
Go back and forth from Premiere Pro to After Effects and tweak your times in After Effects until you’re satisfied. Remember to save your project in After Effects before you go back to Premiere Pro, and the changes and tweaks will appear on the Premiere timeline. Go through the entire sequence and check it against the original that was in Part 2 of this series. Don’t try to copy it for timing, but adjust the timing and sounds to suit you. Post it on YouTube and send Megan and me the link! We can’t wait to see what you create.
Remember, it’s so easy to tweak and render a project out to video, or to put in a Flash timeline for interactive solutions and placement, that you can perfect your project through as many iterations as you have time for. Keep in mind that a project is never really done. Maybe James Cameron had time for as many iterations of editing Titanic as he needed, but we don’t have that luxury. We need to finish our projects and move to the next one. Sometimes we don’t have the time to create our vision, but if you can get 50 percent of the way there, you’re way ahead of the game.