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I have been wanting to learn Adobe After Effects for months, and although I know a few tricks, I still need  formal/tutorial training. So for my new year’s resolution I plan do one online tutorial a day, for at least four days each week.

I discovered Video Copilot (a.k.a. editing wonderland), which is a website dedicated to all the software and tutorials an editor wants – or a future editor needs in order to learn the ins and outs of video editing and animation from someone who knows what he’s talking about.  The creator of Video Copilot is this fellow by the name of Andrew Kramer and he has over 300 tutorial posts that explain how to attain different effects. Kramer’s tutorials are designed to be short, informative, easy to follow, and visually supported. He numbered them to build up the viewer’s editing knowledge systematically so that you really learn.  Not only that, but he also posts the footage he uses in the tutorials so you could download it in a zip file and follow along on your own computer.

Today’s tutorial focuses on changing the background element of a video – in this case, the sky of a motorcycling video. This video can be sampled at:

Follow this tutorial and you will go from, to

Notice that the sky here is full of clouds and the color of the picture is richer

Trust me, online tutorials are so much easier than books

You should watch Andrew’s tutorial on how to replace the sky in Adobe AfterEffects, but it might be helpful to also read my notes from when I did it:

  • Put your .mov file (motorcycle video) into the timeline
  • drag your background image (sky) on top of the video file
  • Click Effect > Transition >Linear Wipe (This will give you a rough idea of what the final image will look like)
  • Set Wipe Angle to 0 (zero)
  • Set Transition Completion to about 30%
  • Feather the edge of the image to about 190
  • Select the video file on the timeline
  • Click Window > Tracker Controls > Track Motion (or Motion Track on Adobe AfterEffect CS5) You need to place the tracker on the furthest point in the video (the hill all the war in the back of the motorcycler)
  • Grab the tracker and place it on the spot that looks like it’s the furthest in the video (Make sure that your play head is located at the very beginning of your timeline! If not, you will have to readjust your tracker when you put place play head at the beginning of the clip)
  • Click the play button by the “Analyze” section of your tracker window
  • Now, in order to convert your track data to keyframes click “Apply” and then “OK”
  • You may see that the sky element is out of position. To fix this:
  1. click on the image in source box
  2. Click Transform > Position
  3. Move the image with the mouse until it looks right
  4. You can scale it to fit the window
  • Another problem is if a moving object in the video becomes hidden by the image on top
  1. duplicate the video clip
  2. take one of the video clips and drag it to the top of the source box
  3. Click Effects > Keying> Color Key
  4. Key out the color that is in the image in the video clip
  5.  Increase the Tolerance (to about 55 or so)
  • When making a composite such as this, it is also helpful to do a color correction
  1. Click Layer > New > Adjustment Layer
  2. Click Effect > Adjust > Curves
  3. Play around with the color until it looks right

Here’s a thought, maybe instead of learning post production editing online, I should get one of the professional editors at American Movie Company to teach me! But before I do, perhaps it would be better if I let Andrew Kramer show me some of the basics first – you know, so I don’t make a fool of myself.

That’s all for today folks! Hope you enjoy!




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