18 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2011 6:54 PM by jmm2255

    Program design flaw in After Effects - Position

    jmm2255

      I am having a heck of a time getting my credits to scroll up properly. A major problem is the program automatically adds a keyframe point every time one moves things. My credits start and stop at bizarre places, and at more places than there appears to be key frames,or they go in the wrong direction and then change direction on their own accord. And the process of placing or modifying the start and finish positions of the text is not at all intuitive. I cannot even figure out whether the first keypoint is supposed to be the start, or finish point.Yes, I've watched the videos, and read the help, but I would be grateful for some simple instruction how I can get a long credit to scroll.

       

      Also, there seems to be no master command to disengage or delete all command information for say position. I have been using the revert function, but one should be able to cancel everything at once if desired.

        • 1. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
          Todd_Kopriva Level 8

          regarding resetting a property value, from this page of After Effects Help:

          "To reset properties in a property group to their default values, click Reset next to the property group name. To reset an individual property, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the property name (not the value) and choose Reset from the context menu."

          • 2. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
            Todd_Kopriva Level 8

            BTW, there are animation presets for vertical title rolls in After Effects. This page has more information.

            • 3. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
              jmm2255 Level 1

              Thank you for the reply. I will work my way through those pages.

              • 4. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                jmm2255 Level 1

                The Maddening continues. I dutifully looked up the links, and read the help file on the program itself. I had to load a PDF file of the help section to be able to get a keyword search function, but that is another issue for another day. In any event, in regards to the autoscroll function that was suggested and which I want to use, I read the following sentence:

                 

                Apply the Autoscroll - Vertical animation preset in the Behaviors category to quickly create a vertical text crawl (for example, a credit roll).

                 

                Now at face value, this sounds like a helpful sentence, but the problem is I have looked through each and every pull down menue option in the program, and cannot find a "Behaviors category" anywhere. Nor does the section or sentence say where it might be found. Now is it possible that I looked right over it, since there are hundreds of commands? Yes. In which case, a simple search function could perhaps direct me right to it. But AE has no such feature.

                 

                HELP

                • 5. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                  jmm2255 Level 1

                  O.K. I found it, under the Effects and presets pane at the right, but no where in that help section vicinity does it say that is where autoscroll will be found!

                   

                  While I will gladly continue to accept the assistance of others and remain grateful for same, I would like to alert Adobe that from what I have read so far, their written help files are an unmitigated disaster. The writing style is painful and confusing, and all too often lacking in an accompanying image or screenshot for correlation.

                   

                  Adobe should hire someone to rewrite them, and the ideal candidate would NOT be an expert. In fact, you should hire someone who knows nothing about about CS, but is clever enough to decipher its workings and create a new manual in simple terms, for normal humans. Professional users are too intimate with the program to create a proper manual in the necessary style.

                  • 6. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                    jmm2255 Level 1

                    After spending ten frustrating minutes trying to get autoscroll to work, I searched the help manual, again. The word autoscroll appears exactly three times in the entire 799 page manual. Two of those occurances had the word existing in seclusion, as one of a list of choices. How the hell does Adobe think a user is going to be able to figure out how the function works without instructions in the help?

                     

                    Further, hitting the Autoscroll button causes a new menu to open up at the left of the screen, but it also causes my text to disappear, and the screen to go grey. It will not revert back even if I close the autoscroll window. I have to close the project, and re-open it to restore it. If I select the text first, and then hit autoscroll, the screen does stay black, and the text remains, but I have varied each and every parameter, including the phase knob, which one would assume is the main adjuster for scrolling, yet nothing happens on screen, the text stays put. Yet after changing variables and hitting RAM preview, motion occurs. But how on earth is one supposed to know what value changes on the menu will do if they cannot be viewed? I should be able to change a parameter, and see how that will affect my text in real time. In addition, opening the autoscroll window causes the program to summarily cut the lower half of my text off, right in the middle of a sentence.

                    • 7. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                      Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                      I'll again direct you to the getting-started resources:

                      "Getting started with After Effects"

                       

                      The first paragraph of that page was written precisely becuase of the kind of experience that you're currently having. After Effects is very, very powerful software, and it is complex and deep along with that power. If you jump into the middle, you will be frustrated.

                       

                      The page that I pointed to includes links to multiple video tutorial series and multiple books, all of which are intended to make the early learning easier. Once you've gone through these materials, you'll know such things as what an animation preset is and where to find them---so that a terse mention of a specific animation preset in a reference document (which is what the Help document primarily is) will be enough.

                       

                      We're here to help. And the primary way that I can help here is to direct you to the best place to start to miminimize frustration.

                      • 8. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                        Dave LaRonde Level 6

                        I've seen your desperate posts from the past few days, and I gotta tell you: I can feel your pain, but you really are trying to jump into the deep end of the pool, and your lack of basic AE knowledge is like wearing lead weights when you jump in.  It doesn't help that AE is definitely NOT an application you can use intuitively, nor does it help that AE's online help is more of a reference tool than it is a learning tool... Adobe really has to work on that.

                         

                        AE has its own way of thinking.  Its own arcane lexicon.  Its own way of solving a problem.  It's really tough for a beginner to grasp that.  While many applications have a quick-start, get-your-feet-wet set of instructions, AE doesn't.  It really demands that you walk before you run, that you learn the basics before you launch off into the fun stuff.  You can't define a trick you want to learn and expect to find a step-by-step how-to.

                         

                        So how do you learn the basics?  Forget about AE's online help: as mentioned earlier, it's a reference work, not a textbook.  Here's an example: you can look up "French Language" in the encyclopedia and find a wealth of information about its history, a brief description of syntax, the origin of words, etc. but you won't learn French out of an encyclopedia.  You take a French class, invest in Rosetta Stone, get a French language textbook... a variety of things.  When starting to learn French, you don't make your first project a written critique of the works of Jean-Paul Sartre.  The same applies to learning AE.  It really is a lot like learning a foreign language.

                         

                        Here are some other learning options... but they all require learning the basics first: it's a fact of life in AE-Land.

                         

                        Todd's Getting Started link is a good beginning point, but it's no good if you're impatient.  You've got to go through it, and not cherry-pick what YOU think is important.  You'll probably be wrong.  There are also certain things that are lacking because it's all free, and the topics can be hit-and-miss.

                         

                        You say there's nothing like a book.  Fortunately, two highly-respected AE practitioners, Chris and Trish Meyer, have a set of books available for various AE versions.  They've been with After Effects since Version 1.  With the possible exception of CS 5.5, you'll find a fine "Learn AE" book by the Meyers, and it's just a google away.  The Meyers' books almost always come with footage and project files so you can play along at home.  I swear by these books for identifying the Basic Concepts And Things You Need To Know.  Again, patience is the watchword.

                         

                        There are quite a few books out besides the Meyer's works, and I've found them on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.  You can check 'em out yourself.  You might even find one called After Effects For Dummies, and you shouldn't take offense: EVERYBODY'S a dummy when they first begin learning AE.

                         

                        Total Training has AE training DVDs, and they're also highly-regarded.  I used them back when I was first learning AE (and I continue to learn AE to this day).  They too come complete with footage and project files.

                         

                        Todd and Angie Taylor, also highly-ranked among the Who's Who in the AE community, have training available on DVD:

                        http://www.peachpit.com/store/product.aspx?isbn=0321734866

                        Many of the lessons Todd links to in his Getting Started section come from this, but you get footage and files with the paid version.  I have this one myself, and I use it.

                         

                        Lynda.com also offers AE training, but I've never used it.

                         

                        That's a pretty good list of popular ways to learn After Effects, but each one stresses that learning the basics is essential.  Many have tried to learn AE the way you're currently doing it, and they've either failed, given up on AE (a real shame) or accepted that they need to learn it the recommended way.

                         

                        While you might not like what I just wrote, that's the situation: you learn AE a certain way, which may not be the way you want.  That's just the truth of it.

                        1 person found this helpful
                        • 9. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                          jmm2255 Level 1

                          I appreciate the replies, and your comprehensive post Dave. I am also glad to know that someone else recognizes the shortcomings of the online tutorials. I readily admit that I am not very tech savvy, but I managed to teach myself virtually all aspects of Cubase (Audio Engineering software) and only had to refer to the manual occasionally.

                           

                          There is no disputing the very high level of sophistication of CS, and we also know that schools exist that teach would the craft, but surely Adobe's prospective customer base includes buyers like me, who will want to learn on their own or with the included help manual after downloading a trial version. The trial version is a useless marketing tool if the first thing people discover is that the program is just a shade less difficult than operating a space shuttle, and one not well documented to boot. I am a very proficient button pusher and empircal learner, but things just do not function the way one would want or expect, and the fact that hours of toggling does not betray a particular operation's workings (a fairly simple operation at that) is proof of design overcomplication. Getting credits to move from point a to point b over a desired time should not be jumping in the middle or deep end of the pool. I remain convinced that there are fundamental shortcomings in the GUI of CS AE. Once I learn how to perform the task I now want to execute, I might be able to better elaborate exactly what those shortcomings are. I have already pointed out a few, such as the screen mysteriously going grey when selecting auto scroll. In the meantime, it's back to the drawing board.

                          • 10. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                            Dave LaRonde Level 6

                            jmm2255 wrote:

                            The trial version is a useless marketing tool if the first thing people discover is that the program is just a shade less difficult than operating a space shuttle, and one not well documented to boot... things just do not function the way one would want or expect, and the fact that hours of toggling does not betray a particular operation's workings (a fairly simple operation at that) is proof of design overcomplication.

                             

                            You know, I can't really argue with any of that. 

                             

                            Once Adobe bought AE from CoSA, shortly after AE Version 1 was released, I believe, it set about changing the user interface. In essence it hasn't really changed significantly since it became Adobe After Effects.  The basics of a project window where you keep footage and comps, a timeline where you arrange footage as layers, and a comp window where you see the results of your work remain.

                             

                            Since then, AE has accumulated so many other things -- text layers, 3D layers, tools, expressions, scripts, lights, and shape layers to name just a very few -- that it's extremely difficult to know where all the buttons, wingouts, panels and switches hide.  They've added so many new capabilities that finding a sensible place to put all the controls is a real problem.

                             

                            As I recall, AE was first sold as a professional film & video application when the user interface was far simpler to understand... and people STILL had to buy third-party training materials.  Now that it contains far more features, has a much more complex user interface, and has kept almost everything from earlier versions, the Adobe marketers have decided that it's now just the thing for practitioners in all forms of media and they ALLUDE to it being easy to learn.  Mind you, they don't SAY it's easy.  They just show pictures of people who look more at home running accounting software happily breezing through AE.

                             

                            The truth is, using AE is often downright Byzantine, and you pretty much need to know where things are before you think you'll need to use them.  It's like getting directions from someone in a small town: "Oh, yeah, it's really easy to get to.  Just turn north at the old Rexall drugstore right up here and go out a mile or two to the cemetery.  When you see Old Man Norton's gravestone in the Catholic part, that's where you turn east.  The place you're looking for is just past the new culvert under the road.  Not the old culvert -- that'd be the wrong place."

                             

                            Don't think Adobe doesn't know this: there's an ongoing thread soliciting user suggestions for the interface.  I bet Adobe folks spend more than a few sleepless nights asking, "how the heck do we make this thing simpler to use?"  It's like making a Swiss Army Knife more versatile without adding more blades.

                             

                            Until the folks at Adobe have a collective and massive flash of insight in user interface design, I'm afraid your desire to just play with the application and do stuff with it will remain wishful thinking.  And it makes the basics even more crucial.

                            • 11. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                              jmm2255 Level 1

                              While my experience has been very trying and seemingly negative across the board, I have to say that the download (which had all the signs of a disaster in the making, what with it being so large and time consuming) went flawlessly. The program landed where it was supposed to, without all the extracting of zipped files that come with some other products. Everything was in the right place, and the various programs open without a fuss. The download might present problems for some others, but for me and my HP Vista 64 bit computer, things were fine.

                              • 12. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                                Dave LaRonde Level 6

                                Well, I tell you what: a credit roll isn't exactly brain surgery, so I can give you a step-by-step procedure, and if you get it to work, that's good for you:

                                 

                                1. Add all the text layers (AE Text layer, Photoshop document, Illustrator document) to your comp. Turn off all layers' visibility (eyeball icon) except the layer at the end of the roll -- the one that's the very last.
                                2. Turn on the next-to-last layer. 
                                3. Scrub the LAST layer's vertical position property until the layer's positioned properly beneath the next-to-last one, then parent it to the next-to-last layer.
                                4. Turn on the next-next-to-last layer, scrub the next-to-last layer's position property until it's properly positioned beneath, and parent it to the next-next-to-last layer
                                5. Repeat Step 4 as many times as necessary until you're at the first layer to appear in the roll, and every previous layer is parented to the one appearing before it.
                                6. Scrub the vertical position property of the FIRST layer until it disappears off the bottom of the comp window.
                                7. Set a position keyframe for the first layer.
                                8. Move the timeline cursor (aka Current Time Indicator, aka CTI) to the point in time where you want the roll to end.
                                9. Scrub the first layer's position property until the final (last) layer  disappears off the top of the comp window.

                                 

                                Your credit roll is complete.  You may see the top edges of the text "frying" as it moves because it isn't moving in integer pixel increments per frame.  You may see the top edges jumping if you render it as interlaced video.  You can adjust this by tweaking the vertical values of the beginning and ending keyframes, or by moving the ending keyframe to a different point in time.

                                 

                                Good luck.

                                1 person found this helpful
                                • 13. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                                  jmm2255 Level 1

                                  Thanks Dave. I will study your instructions and work on it later this evening.

                                  • 14. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                                    jmm2255 Level 1

                                    O.K. I am making progress using the parent function in conjunction position controls. Perhaps autoscroll might be the best route for the long run, but I have figured out how to (primitively) manipulate the position controls, and will take the small victory for what it is.

                                     

                                    In any event, I have a new strangeness. When I press RAM, to preview, it only plays until the curser line reaches the end of a thin horizontal orange bar, and then it repeats the truncated portion. This orange bar is just below the time bar, where is says 5s 10s etc. Further, the length of these orange bars seem to change position and length for no apparent reason. Sometimes they are long, and other times they are short. I have seen wither one or two broken lines.

                                     

                                    What are these, and how do I control them?

                                    • 16. Re: Program design flaw in After Effects - Position
                                      jmm2255 Level 1

                                      Thank you. That was very helpful. I now understand the bar's function, and managed to view the whole sequence using a lower resolution (third).

                                       

                                      I want the RAM preview to stop at the end of the sequence and remain frozen on the last image, instead of looping back and starting again. Is there a way to make RAM preview a one shot deal?