In Adobe After Effects, Animation Presets are collections of solids, effects filters, property keyframes, and expressions that you can use to automatically create animations, backgrounds, and text effects. Animation Presets can be quite dense combinations of multiple filters, motion paths, and keyframes, but you can apply them with a single click to your own projects to create complex professional animations.
What's more, they're easily modifiable if the basic preset doesn't meet your needs, and they're a great learning tool as well - just apply a preset and open it up to see how the animation was created. In this Quick Tip, we're going to discuss some of the different preset categories and how to apply and modify them.
You need to have at least one empty composition to apply an Animation Preset, but that's all - many Animation Presets will create their own solid layers and default text if necessary. So in After Effects, make a new empty composition (Composition > New Composition... or Command/CTRL+N) of whatever size and length you like - the Animation Preset will automatically adapt its size to match your comp. The keyframes in the preset are often based on a fixed duration, but they're adjustable, as we'll see. I'm going to make a 10-second 1280x720 comp.
There are a couple of ways to apply an Animation Preset, but first you need to see them. If you don't already see them displayed, open the Effects and Presets window by choosing Window > Effects & Presets or by typing Command/CTRL+5, then roll down the Animation Presets twirly:
Roll down the twirly (disclosure) arrow for one of the Animation Preset categories, say Backgrounds, then double-click one of the presets (I'm using Blocks) to apply it to the comp - you'll notice that the Animation Preset makes its own new Solid, so the effects in the preset can be applied, and this will generate a new animation:
If, on the other hand, you already have a layer you want to apply the Animation Preset to, don't double-click the preset, as that will make a new layer - just drag the Animation Preset onto the existing layer to apply it.
You'll notice that by default the animating blocks stop after 5 seconds, but it's easy to change that - just type U to expose the animated keyframes, lasso the keyframes, and drag them to wherever we want in the timeline, say 10 seconds. Now you'll see that the animation has slowed down and filled the 10-second comp duration, as you'd expect:
One thing to be aware of is that Animation Preset keyframes will begin at the location of the Current Time Indicator (CTI) - if you want the default 5-second Blocks animation to start at 2 seconds, for example, move the CTI to 2 seconds in the Timeline, then apply the preset.
And that's it. A final word about the Animation Preset categories - some, like Backgrounds, Shapes, Sound Effects, and Synthetics generate new imagery (or sounds) from scratch, and don't require an existing layer. The others, including Behaviors, the Image categories, Text, Transform, and Transitions, are intended to modify your existing layers, although they will generate their own empty Solid layers or default text characters if needed.
You can, by the way, see a complete rendered preview gallery of all the Animation Presets at the Adobe After Effects site here.
Check them out, and enjoy working with Animation Presets on your own projects.?
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