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Previewing and Applying an Effects Preset

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One of the types of effects available to you in After Effects is the background preset, which does what it says: It applies an effect that’s set up to be used as a background for a composition.

You’ve already learned how to quickly locate an effect in the Effects & Presets panel by typing the effect name into the search field in that panel. But how would you know which background effect you want if you don’t know what they look like? To help you with this, After Effects can use Bridge as a visual browser for certain types of effects.

To browse background effects visually:

  1. In After Effects, choose Browse Presets from the Effects & Presets panel menu (Figure 3.2).

    FIGURE 3.2

    Figure 3.2 Choosing Browse Presets

    Choosing Browse Presets switches to Bridge and takes you straight to the Presets folder for After Effects, which exists on your desktop along with other support files that were installed with After Effects.

  2. Double-click the Backgrounds folder to open it.

    Inside the Backgrounds folder are thumbnail images of the various background effects that are available. Now you can browse them visually.

  3. Select one of the effects presets.

  4. If the Preview panel isn’t visible, click its tab to bring it forward; it may be grouped with the Publish panel. If you can’t see the Preview panel, it may be grouped with the Publish panel. Click the Preview panel. If you can’t even see the Preview panel tab, choose Window > Preview.

    The Preview panel should show a preview of the selected effects preset (Figure 3.3). You can use the controller in the Preview panel to start, stop, scrub, and loop the preview.

    FIGURE 3.3

    Figure 3.3 Browsing presets visually in Adobe Bridge

  5. Double-click the selected effects preset, and switch back to After Effects. The effects preset should be applied to the solid layer that was selected when you chose the Browse Presets command in the Effects & Presets panel.

  6. Use the Preview panel to play back the composition so that you can see how the animated background looks in the composition.

This workflow is a variation on the standard effects workflow you read about in “Applying an Effect to a Layer,” in Chapter 2. In that section, you learned how to apply an effect from the Effects & Presets panel and how to edit and animate the properties of that effect in the Effect Controls panel (or the Timeline panel). The variation here is that you use Adobe Bridge as a visual browser for effects presets.

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