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Building the Background

To create the backgrounds, we randomly placed 80×80 solids in four different shades of one color family and then pre-comped the individual colors. If you wish, you can do the same until you're happy with the checkerboard design. Otherwise, we've provided you with a chart of the colors and the solids' positions.

Here are the steps:

  1. Create a new composition named Orange Squares BG, with dimensions 720×540, Frame Rate 29.97, and Duration 10;00 seconds.
  2. To arrange the square pattern more easily, turn on the composition grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap To Grid option in the same menu.
  3. The quickest way to reproduce our pattern is to start with an 80×80 solid and duplicate it as many times as specified for that particular color in the table. Then select all the layers of that color, press the P key to display their Position properties, and enter the Position values specified in the table.
  4. When you're done positioning solids of a particular color, pre-comp (Layer > Pre-compose) those layers, and name them according to their color: Pale Orange Squares, Light Orange Squares, Mid Orange Squares, and Dark Orange Squares.

    Pre-comping the pale orange solids

    Pre-comping the light orange solids

    The Orange Squares BG Timeline

Save your work.

Mixing it up

Now you'll add a little variety by making the squares fade in and out at different times. By subdividing and animating the different colors, you can create a gradual transition to your checkerboard background:

  1. Open the Pale Orange Squares comp, and select the first 10 layers.
  2. Pre-comp these layers (Layer > Pre-compose) into a new composition named XL Phase 1.

    Dividing the layers into two comps

  3. Pre-comp the remaining pale orange layers into a new composition named XL Phase 2.
  4. Select both comp layers, and add 0% Opacity keyframes to them.
  5. Go to time 1;00, and change the Opacity for both layers to 100%.
  6. Go to time 0;10, select only XL Phase 2, and press the [ key to move the layer's In point to the current time.

    Offsetting the strart time of the checkerboard phases

Repeat this process with the remaining comps:

  1. Open the Light Orange Squares composition, and pre-comp the first 11 layers into a new composition named L Phase 1.
  2. Select the remaining layers, and pre-comp them (Layer > Pre-compose) into a new composition named L Phase 2.
  3. Select both layers, and add 0% Opacity keyframes to them.
  4. Go to time 1;00, and change the Opacity of both layers to 100%.
  5. Go to time 0;10, select only the L Phase 2 layer, and press the [ key to move the In point to the current time.

    Adding a fade-in to the checkerboard phases

  6. Open the Mid Orange Squares composition, and pre-comp the first six layers into a new composition named M Phase 1.
  7. Select the remaining layers, and pre-comp them into a new composition named M Phase 2.
  8. Select both layers, and add 0% Opacity keyframes to them.
  9. Go to time 1;00, and change the Opacity for both layers to 100%.
  10. Go to time 0;10, select M Phase 2, and press [ to move the layer's In point.

    What the fade-in will look like

  11. Open the Dark Orange Squares composition, and pre-comp the first seven layers into a new comp named D Phase 1.
  12. Pre-comp the remaining layers into a comp named D Phase 2.
  13. Select both layers, and add 0 % Opacity keyframes to them.
  14. Go to time 1;00, and change both layers' Opacity to 100%.
  15. Go to time 0;10, select only the D Phase 2 layer, and press the [ key to move the layer's In point.

Save your work.

Adding a little more spice

Now you'll double the effect of the fade-ins by staggering the In points of the comp layers:

  1. Select all the layers, and add a 0% Opacity keyframe to each one.
  2. Go to time 1;00, and change the Opacity of all layers to 100%.
  3. Go to time 0;05, select the Pale Orange Squares layer, and press [ to move the In point.
  4. Go to time 0;10, select the Dark Orange Squares layer, and press [.
  5. Go to time 0;15, select the Mid Orange Squares layer, and press [.

    Offsetting the start time of the different color squares

Save and preview your work: The squares should fade in at various times. Now, close all the compositions.

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