As a motion graphics designer, you often have to work harder than other types of designers. Unlike those in the print world who can usually get by with a white background for the printed page, you must put more thought into your projects. Motion backgrounds have become a staple of broadcast and motion graphics design. In fact, entire companies exist just to create and sell backdrops. The use of backgrounds (whether static or dynamic) is essential to good motion graphics design. Fortunately, certain features in After Effects and Photoshop can be combined to create some fantastic "wallpaper." Read the whole article here – http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1660202
This is part two on setting up Photoshop for a video workflow. Be sure to see part one posted yesterday.
Units & Rulers
Under Units & Rulers, modify Photoshop’s measuring system to match video. If you work in a print environment, you can quickly jump back and change your measurement units by double-clicking on the ruler.
Set Rulers to pixels.
Set Type to points.
Ensure that screen resolution is set to 72 pixels/inch.
Ensure that the Point/Pica Size is set to PostScript (72 points/inch) so that type acts like other video applications.
Guides, Grid, & Slices
The next category helps you precisely align design elements.
I find that a Light Red guide is easier to see than the default Cyan.
Set up a grid using Lines with a gridline every 40 pixels and 4 subdivisions. You can now turn the grid off and on from the View menu or from the keyboard using Cmd+" (Ctrl+").
Disable Show Slice Numbers unless you are doing a lot of web work. Slices are used with rollover graphics to trigger button effects on web pages.
If you need to travel with your plug-ins on a removable drive (for example a freelance assignment) then you can specify an Additional Plug-Ins Folder.
The Type category consolidates several important type options into one area.
Check the box next to use Smart Quotes if you’ll need true quote marks and apostrophes more than foot and inch marks.
Leave Enable Missing Glyph Protection checked
Choose to Show Font Names in English (or the native language of your software).
Check Font Preview Size and specify a size that you like. The Huge size is helpful if a producer or client frequently sits over your shoulder.
The 3D category controls both the performance and the appearance of Photoshop’s 3D toolset. Stick with the defaults until you master these tools.
Photoshop has its roots as a video and film application. The print—and more recently, web—industries have claimed it as their own. Now it’s our turn. Digital video has emerged as the fastest growing technology area; more and more books and applications are popping up on the shelves, promising solutions for all skill levels. It is my goal to help you reclaim Photoshop and learn to harness its diverse imaging abilities to enhance your video projects. Photoshop has all the tools you need (and many you don’t). Let’s get started by setting up Photoshop to work with our video applications. First we’ll modify its preferences which control how the application functions. To begin, call up your Preferences panel by pressing Cmd+K (Ctrl+K). These Preferences suggestions are based on Photoshop CS5. Most of these options exist in earlier versions of Photoshop, but naming conventions may vary.
In the General category, choose:
Adobe Color Picker (a consistent, cross-platform color selection tool).
Image Interpolation set to Bicubic (best for smooth gradients).
Use Shift Key for Tool Switch unchecked.
Resize Image During Place checked.
Zoom Resizes Windows checked.
Zoom with Scroll Wheel checked.
The Interface category groups several preferences together that affect the application’s appearance.
Set UI Font Size set to Medium or Large depending upon the resolution of your display. Use a larger size for bigger monitors.
Leave Show Channels in Color unchecked. This option affects how your channels and images are viewed and diminish the on-screen viewing quality.
Uncheck Enable Gestures if using a laptop (unless you love them).
In the File Handling category, you need to make some changes to ensure cross-platform functionality. Even if your shop only uses Macs or PCs, you will work with others who are on other operating systems. Be cross-platform compliant when saving your Photoshop files.
Always choose the Save an Icon and Macintosh or Windows Thumbnail options. This will allow you to quickly locate files through visual cues.
Always append file extension with lower case tags.
Set Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility to Always.
The performance category groups several options together which manage your installed RAM and hard drives.
Memory Usage identifies how much RAM you have installed. Photoshop has a minimum requirement of 1 GB for CS5.
Allow at least 20 History States (levels of Undo). You will vary this number based on RAM and personal experience as you grow less dependent on undos.
Memory will generally not be a big deal because you’ll work primarily with low-resolution sources in this book. However, if you have extra (local) drives, make Photoshop aware of them. Set your emptiest drive as the First Scratch Disk. Ideally you will choose a drive that is not the system (boot) drive.
If you have a robust video card and will be doing a lot of image clean up, then check the boxes for Enable OpenGL Drawing.
Photoshop uses specialized cursors to make it easier to know which tool is in use.
Set Painting Cursors to Normal Brush Tip. I personally prefer to check Show Crosshair in Brush Tip. (The Caps Lock key disables this preview feature.)
Set Other Cursors to Precise. This way, you can actually see your sample point for your Eyedropper and Stamp tools.
Transparency & Gamut
Under Transparency & Gamut, you can generally leave these options alone. Personal preferences do vary however.
You can change the grid size to make it easier to see transparent pixels.
You can change the grid color if you despise light gray. You can also disable the grid altogether. Remember, the grid will not print or show up in your video graphics.
Blending modes are an integral part of both design and color correction workflows as they let you mix the content of two or more layers. Part of the reason many pass on blending modes is that they are hard to use if you don’t know which one you want. The truth is that the list can get a little long and if you aren't familiar with them, it can get a little confusing.
Here’s a much better way to experiment:
Select the layer or layers you want to blend.
If using Photoshop, choose the Move tool (In After Effects, you can skip this step).
Press Shift + = (Shift plus Equal) to scroll through the list.
To move backward, press Shift + – (Shift plus Minus) to return to a passed blending mode.
When animating object's in After Effects, you need to understand the essential animation properties.
Anchor Point (A) – This is the point at which the object rotates or scales. You will often need to adjust the anchor point of the object and move it to a more “natural” rotation point (such as the waist, a joint, a hinge, etc.). The easiest way to adjust Anchor Point is with the Pan Behind tool.
Position (P) – This is where the object is located along the X, Y, or Z-axis.
Scale (S) – This is the size of the object on the screen. Remember, scaling an object larger than 100 percent will create pixelization in raster objects. If you want to simulate a zoom, press S for Scale to access the scaling controls. To scale all the layers in unison, add a new Null Object to the composition. All the layers can be parented to the Null Object (via the parent Column). Then scale the null to affect all the dependent layers.
Rotation (R) – An object can be rotated around its anchor point. It can also be rotated along its X, Y, or Z-axis.
Opacity (T) – The lower an object’s opacity the more you can see through it.
Animation Assistants – Use your animation assistants to add Ease on the rotation and anchor point keyframes. Click on the word Scale to highlight both scale keyframes. Then choose Keyframe Assistant > Exponential Scale. This powerful assistant will accurately simulate the ballistics of a camera zoom.
One of Photoshop’s greatest powers lies in its ability to preserve complex transparency. By employing masks, both in layers and embedded into the saved files as alpha channels, this transparency data can travel seamlessly into the nonlinear editing (NLE) or motion-graphics environment.