Animating and Creating 3D Objects in After Effects

Duplicating and Modifying a Plug-in Effects Layer (Nebula)

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This video segment demonstrates trimming a layer, duplicating a Nebula effects layer, and animating and adjusting its parameters.


  • Animating
  • effects
  • solid
  • layer
  • trimming
  • Nebula
  • pre-composing
  • keyframing

About this video

Jeff Shaffer
First online
14 March 2019
Online ISBN
Copyright information
© Jeff Shaffer 2019

Video Transcript

OK, so where we left off, I had created this soft smoke effects layer, and I want to trim it right before its endpoint here. So I’m going to hit the U key to reveal the key frames where they currently are and then move the play head to just ahead of those key frames there. And I’m at about 10:08. That should work OK. And I’m going to trim it, the endpoint, to that position there by going Option left bracket. You can also do that by simply dragging it to that point.

So there I have the key frames there. I’m going to twirl that up. And I’m going to now duplicate this layer, Command-D or Control-D on the PC. This layer is going to be called Nebula. I’m going to give it a different color. Let’s make it lavender. Then, I am going to move it into position at 13:05. So I’ll move my layer right to that point, 13:05.

And then, I’m going to twirl down its key frames with the U key. There we are. So I can see, actually, I would like to move that over a little bit, get it right in position there on that very first key frame. If it’s hard to see the key frames there, you can use the zoom slider. Make it a lot easier to get right on that key frame. OK, so I’m going to change the preset now to nebula from the list there. And then I’m going to plug in some of the key frames here.

So the very first key frame that I’m on right now, I’m going to change the glow intensity to 15%. Glow spread and bias are the same. The core size, I’m going to make a key frame for that, include that there. I want to change that to 3.4. All right, so there’s that starting position for that, or the starting setting for that. My position is 945.12. My scale is 19%, just starting to emerge from the center here, as you can see.

So, next, I’m going to go to the very next key frame now. I can use this button, or I could use the K key to go forward one key frame, as long as I’m selected on key frames. And this key frame here should be at 45%, which it is. Core size of three. My new position, I’m going to move this a little bit here. I’m going to move it to 520 and 463, just moving it over a little bit and up, as you can see there. You could, of course, do that with the Selection tool, as well.

And now the scale is now unlinked, and it is going to be set at 117 and 129.5. So it’s slightly scaling the effect here in x- and y-coordinates instead of all together. So width and height are changed. And then, my next key frame is going to be at 13:10, and this is going to be a position key frame. So I’ll hit this button here. And I’m going to make my position on this is going to be– that’s going to lock in that position, where we are right now. So my position is set there.

And then I’m going to go to 13:22. And at 13:22, I’m going to have a slightly different position here. I’m going to change that to 354 and 455. So it’s kind of coming out there, evaporating, and moving away. Then, I’m going to go to 14:04, and my core size is going to change to zero now. The glow intensity is also going to be zero, so it’s going to fade out over time.

So let’s take a look at that, what’s happening there. If I scrub across, you can see what happens. The glow fades and moves away. So that’s what’s happening with the nebula. So my next step will be I’m going to make another nebula copy here. I’m going to duplicate that layer, Nebula2. And I’m going to move that. That’s going to go way down the end here of my timeline, because that’s going to occurred at the very last couple of cymbal crashes on those markers down there.

So I’m going to go to 20:13, and I’m going to make that my endpoint, moving that down there. I’m going to change the color of the nebula here. I’ll make it a darker purple so it’s easy to distinguish that. I will twirl it down with the U key to get the key frames. And I may need to shift it over a little bit, because my second key frame is when I want that blast to be positioned. So again, if need be, get right on the center of that key frame at the point we want. So let’s see. Right with that marker there, I want it to align just so, like that. So that’s at 20:15. That’s the marker key frame for that nebula.

And that glow intensity on this is going to drop down to 25%. So I want it to sort of be a little bit more vapor-like and not more blast-like. Then, the core size is going to be 3.0 at that key frame. We have our position set. That’s all good. And our scale is scaled up. I’ll go back one key frame with my button here, or I can use the J key to do that, as well. Checking, the glow intensity should be 15. The core size should be 1 on that. Position and scale is all good.

So I’m just going to check the last couple of key frames there before we wrap this one up. So we’ll go to two more key frames ahead. That position there, at 20:18. 21, we’re moving away. And at 21:12, we should be a zero, zero, and it’s pretty much gone. So now, we’ll wrap this up for this video. And in the next video, we’ll be adding a couple of more layers and effects.