The last chapter of this book is a take on how visual effects artists look at the world around us. Here, I'd like to focus for a moment on how you study a given shot in After Effects most effectively.
If you've never had your work reviewed in dailies at an effects studio, your first time in that setting may be a bit of a shock. Seasoned visual effects supervisors miss nothing, and in some cases they do not even need to see a clip twice to tell you what needs to changeeven if it is only 40 frames long. In other cases, your shot will loop on and on for several minutes while the whole team gangs up on it, picking it apart.
Typically, however, footage is examined in dailies the same way that you want to look at it in After Effects, but in After Effects, you have a huge advantageextra tools at your disposal to show you what is going on, and no surly supervisor sitting near you!
Throughout the book, and in your work, as you preview your shot you are encouraged to
Figure 1.45. Whoops! You thought your background level was pure black, but a glance at the Info palette while your cursor is over the background shows that it is actually 2% gray, which can cause problems further down the line.
Figure 1.46. The three available settings for looping previews are highlighted in blue: loop (the default, top), ping-pong (center), or play through once (bottom); toggle these by clicking on the icon.
Does your mouse have a zoom wheel? If so, you can use it to zoom in and out on your Composition and Layer views. If you hold down Alt/Option as you mouse-wheel, the zoom will center around your pointera very useful extra for an effects artist hunting for details.
Were I teaching you this subject in person, I would probably remind you of these practices constantly; because doing that throughout a book isn't practical (and could get downright annoying), I encourage you to remind yourself. You will reap the benefits: a shot that is final in fewer takes, thanks to few careless mistakes, resulting in a pleased effects team who lauds your efforts and awards you with trickier, even more impressive shots (and an occasional break).
Section I. Working Foundations
The 7.0 Workflow
Selections: The Key to Compositing
Optimizing Your Projects
Section II. Effects Compositing Essentials
Rotoscoping and Paint
Effective Motion Tracking
Film, HDR, and 32 Bit Compositing
Section III. Creative Explorations
Working with Light
Climate: Air, Water, Smoke, Clouds
Pyrotechnics: Fire, Explosions, Energy Phenomena
Learning to See