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Chapter 4. Compositions > Advanced Composition Settings

Advanced Composition Settings

The Composition Settings dialog box is divided into Basic and Advanced panels. The previous sections covered the settings in the Basic panel. Clicking the Advanced tab reveals a number of additional settings, which are discussed here, although many will make more sense to you later as this book delves deeper into the program. You'll be reminded of each setting again when you encounter the task or technique to which it pertains.

Setting a composition's anchor

When you resize a composition, you use the Anchor control to determine how the composition and its layers will be placed in the new frame—that is, whether they're anchored in the center, corner, or side of the new frame.

To set the anchor of a resized composition

1.
Select a composition and press Command-K (Mac) or Ctrl-K (Windows) (Figure 4.26).

Figure 4.26. Before the composition is resized, it looks like this.


The Composition Settings dialog box appears.

2.
To change the frame size of the composition, enter new values in the Width and Height fields.

3.
Click the Advanced tab.

The Advanced settings panel of the Composition Settings dialog box appears.

4.
In the Anchor control, click one of the nine anchor point positions (Figure 4.27).

Figure 4.27. In the Advanced panel of the Composition Settings dialog box, click one of the nine anchor positions.


5.
Click OK to close the Composition Settings dialog box.

The layers contained in the composition align to the position you specified (Figure 4.28).

Figure 4.28. The layers are anchored to the position you specified in the resized comp.


✓ Tip

  • Don't confuse the composition's anchor with a layer's anchor point, which is something else altogether. To find out about the layer Anchor Point property, see Chapter 7, “Properties and Keyframes.”


Choosing a composition's shutter settings

In many ways, a composition is analogous to a camera. Just as a camera's shutter helps determine how blurry or sharp a moving object appears on film, After Effects compositions include a shutter setting that serves a similar purpose. Layers with motion blur applied to them appear blurred (when motion blur is enabled), according to the shutter settings.

As in a camera, the shutter angle and frame rate work together to simulate an exposure. Wider shutter angles result in a longer simulated exposure and blurrier motion (Figure 4.29); narrower shutter angles result in a shorter simulated exposure and sharper moving images (Figure 4.30). The optional Shutter Phase setting determines the shutter's starting position at the frame start.

Figure 4.29. Wider shutter angles result in a longer simulated exposure and blurrier motion.


Figure 4.30. Narrower shutter angles result in a shorter simulated exposure and sharper motion.


To set shutter angle and phase

1.
In the Advanced panel of the Composition Settings dialog box, enter a value for Shutter Angle (Figure 4.31).

Figure 4.31. In the Advanced panel of the Composition Settings dialog box, enter a value for Shutter Angle.


The default setting is 180 degrees.

2.
To set the position of the shutter relative to the start frame, enter a value for Shutter Phase.

You may enter an angle between 0 and 360 degrees.

3.
Click OK to close the Composition Settings dialog box.

✓ Tips

  • If you're not sure what shutter angle to use, 180 degrees works fine. You can always change the angle when you start using and previewing motion blur. For more about motion blur, see Chapter 14, “More Layer Techniques.”

  • You can also set the shutter angle in the Render Queue dialog box. See Chapter 18, “Output,” for more information.


Nesting options

As you know by now, compositions can become layers within other compositions, a technique called nesting. In the composition's settings, nesting options dictate whether nested compositions retain their own frame-rate and resolution settings or assume those of the composition in which they're nested. For more about nesting compositions, see Chapter 17.

To set nesting options

1.
In the Advanced panel of the Composition Settings dialog box, select one or both of the following options (Figure 4.32):

Figure 4.32. Select the nesting option(s) you want.


Preserve frame rate when nested or in render queue— Choosing this option allows nested compositions to retain their frame rates, regardless of the frame rate of the composition that contains them.

Preserve resolution when nested— If this option is selected, nested compositions will retain their resolution settings, regardless of the resolution of the composition that contains them.

If you select neither option, nested compositions will take on the frame rate and resolution of the composition in which they're nested.

2.
Click OK to close the Composition Settings dialog box.

✓ Tips

  • By preserving the frame rate of a nested composition, you can achieve results similar to those produced by the Posterize Time effect.

  • The Render Queue dialog box allows you to use the current resolution settings or to reset them for all nested comps. See Chapter 18 for more about the render queue.


Rendering plug-in

In case you've forgotten, After Effects allows you to composite layers in three-dimensional space. The standard package comes with the standard 3D rendering plug-in; After Effects Pro includes an advanced 3D plug-in, which supports more sophisticated 3D features such as the intersection of 3D layers, diffuse shadows, and the like. If your computer is equipped with an After Effects–compatible OpenGL graphics card, you can designate it for 3D rendering. See Chapter 16, “3D Layers,” for more about 3D layers and compositing; see Chapter 8 for more about previewing and OpenGL.

To set the rendering plug-in

1.
In the Advanced panel of the Composition dialog box, choose one of the following options in the Rendering Plug-in pull-down menu (Figure 4.33):

Figure 4.33. Choose a rendering plug-in from the pull-down menu.


Advanced 3D— Select this option to use the advanced 3D plug-in (included with After Effects Pro).

Standard 3D— Select this option to use the standard 3D plug-in.

OpenGL Hardware— Select this option to use your After Effects–compatible OpenGL graphics card for 3D rendering.

2.
If you chose Advanced 3D in step 1, click Options, and specify the shadow mask resolution in the Advanced 3D Options dialog box.

3.
Click OK to close the Composition Settings dialog box.

If you chose OpenGL Hardware in step 1, the Composition window displays OpenGL in the pasteboard area.

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