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Lesson 7. Special Effects for Film > Positioning the elements for the final com...

Positioning the elements for the final composition

Now that you have constructed all the elements that you need, you are ready to import the rest of the files and assemble the pieces into the final composition. You'll import the sky and feed-store images and the sky light effect.

Preparing a still image file for import into After Effects

Before you import a still footage item into After Effects, prepare the file as completely as possible. It is generally easier and faster to prepare a file in its original application; this also reduces rendering time in After Effects. You can use an image-editing application, such as Adobe Photoshop, to prepare the footage, and then use After Effects to manipulate only the image attributes you want to change over time. Before you import still image files into After Effects, consider doing the following:

  • Set the pixel dimensions of the still image to the resolution at which you will use it in After Effects. If you plan to output to DV or D1, you can set the pixel dimensions to a smaller size. If you plan to scale the image over time, set image dimensions that provide enough detail at the image's largest size in the project. The maximum resolution you can use in After Effects is 4000-by-4000 pixels.

  • Set the resolution to even numbers if working in a composition that uses even-numbered resolution (for example, 2048 by 1536). Likewise, set the resolution to odd numbers if working in a composition that uses odd-numbered resolution. This process prevents additional softening of images.

  • Crop the parts of the image that you do not want to be visible in After Effects.

  • Correct the contrast and color balance to ensure they are set correctly for broadcast video, if necessary.

  • Create an alpha channel if you want to designate areas as transparent.

  • If final output will be broadcast video, avoid the use of thin lines, for example, 1-pixel lines, for images or text because they may appear to flicker. If you must use thin lines, add a slight blur so the line or text displays on both fields instead of flickering between them.

  • Save the file using the correct naming convention. For example, if you plan to import the file to After Effects on a Windows system, save the file using a three-character extension. If you plan to import the file to Mac OS, save the file with a name containing a maximum of 31 characters.

  • Make sure the file format is supported in the operating system you plan to use.

—From the Adobe After Effects User Guide, Chapter 3



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