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Adding Effects and Modifying Layer Properties

Now that your composition is set up, you can start having fun—applying effects, making transformations, and adding animation. You can add any combination of effects and modify any of a layer's properties, such as size, placement, and opacity. Using effects, you can alter a layer's appearance or sound, and even generate visual elements from scratch. The easiest way to start is to apply any of the hundreds of effects included with After Effects.

Preparing the Layers

In this section, you'll apply the effects to duplicates of selected layers—the DJ layer and the kaleidoscope_waveforms layer. Working with duplicates lets you apply an effect to one layer and then use it in conjunction with the unmodified original.

  1. Select the first layer,, in the Timeline panel, and then choose Edit > Duplicate. A new layer with the same name appears at the top of the stack, so the first two layers are named
  2. To avoid having duplicate layer names, select the second layer and rename it. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS) to make the name editable, and type DJ_with_effects (see Figure 8). Then press Enter or Return again to accept the new name.
  3. Select the kaleidoscope_waveforms layer and make two duplicates. Then rename the duplicates kaleidoscope_left and kaleidoscope_right.
  4. Drag if necessary to rearrange the layers in the Timeline panel so that they're in the order shown in Figure 9.

Adding a Radial Blur Effect

Now you'll add the radial blur effect, which creates blurs around a specific point in a layer, simulating the effects of a zooming or rotating camera.

  1. Select the DJ_with_effects layer in the Timeline panel. Notice that layer handles appear around the layer in the Composition panel, as shown in Figure 10.
  2. In the Effects & Presets panel at the right side of the application window, type radial blur in the Contains field. After Effects searches for effects and presets that contain the letters you type, and displays the results interactively. Before you have finished typing, the Radial Blur effect, located in the Blur & Sharpen category, appears in the panel (see Figure 11).
  3. Drag the Radial Blur effect onto the DJ_with_effects layer in the Timeline panel. After Effects applies the effect and automatically opens the Effect Controls panel in the upper-left area of the workspace (see Figure 12).
  4. Next, you'll customize the settings. In the Effect Controls panel, choose Zoom from the Type menu (see Figure 13).
  5. In the Composition panel, move the center point of the blur lower by dragging the center crosshair down until it's below the DJ's turntables in the picture. As you drag the crosshair, the Center value updates in the Effect Controls panel. The left and right values are x and y coordinates, respectively. Center the blur at approximately 375, 450 (see Figure 14).

    Alternatively, you can type the x and y values directly into the coordinate fields in the Effect Controls panel, or you can position the pointer over the fields to see the double-arrow icon shown in Figure 15, and then drag right or left to increase or decrease the values, respectively.

  6. Finally, increase the Amount setting to 200.0 as shown in Figure 16.

Adding an Exposure Effect

To punch up the brightness of this layer, you will apply the Exposure color-correction effect. This effect lets you make tonal adjustments to footage and simulates the result of modifying the exposure setting (in f-stops) of the camera that captured the image.

  1. Locate the Exposure effect in the Effect & Presets panel by typing Exposure in the Contains field or by clicking the triangle next to Color Correction to see a list of color-correction effects in alphabetical order, and then selecting Exposure from the list (see Figure 17).
  2. Drag the Exposure effect in the Color Correction category onto the DJ_with_effects layer name in the Timeline panel. After Effects adds the Exposure settings to the Effect Controls panel under the Radial Blur effect, as shown in Figure 18.
  3. In the Effect Controls panel, click the triangle next to the Radial Blur effect to collapse those settings so that you can see the Exposure settings more easily.
  4. For Master Exposure, enter 1.60. This setting will make everything brighter in the layer to simulate an overexposed image, as shown in Figure 19.

Transforming Layer Properties

The DJ looks smashing, so you can turn your attention to the kaleidoscope waveforms that are part of the background. In this section, you'll reposition the copies you created earlier, to create an edgy effect.

  1. Select the kaleidoscope_left layer (layer 5) in the Timeline panel.
  2. Click the triangle to the left of the layer number to expand the layer, and then expand the layer's Transform properties: Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation, and Opacity (see Figure 20).
  3. If you can't see the properties, scroll down the Timeline panel using the scrollbar at the right side of the panel. Better yet, select the kaleidoscope_left layer name again and press P. This keyboard shortcut displays only the Position property, which is the only property you'll change for this exercise.
  4. You'll move this layer to the left about 200 pixels. Change the x coordinate for the Position property to 160.0, as shown in Figure 21. Leave the y coordinate at 243.0.
  5. Select the kaleidoscope_right layer (layer 6), and press P to display its Position property. You will move this layer to the right.
  6. Change the x coordinate for the kaleidoscope_right Position property to 560.0, as shown in Figure 22. Leave the y coordinate at 243.0. Now you can see the three waveforms—left , center, and right—in the Composition panel, hanging like a beaded light curtain. To contrast the left and right waveforms with the center waveform, you will reduce their opacity.
  7. Select the kaleidoscope_left layer in the Timeline panel and press T to reveal its Opacity property. Set it to 30%.
  8. Select the kaleidoscope_right layer in the Timeline panel, press T to reveal its Opacity property, and set it to 30%. Your composition should now resemble Figure 23.
  9. Choose File > Save to save your work so far.
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