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Combustion Eye for the AE Guy

Part 1: A workflow overview By Stephen Schleicher
After writing my look at discreets combustion 3 from the Adobe After Effects user perspective I had a great number of e-mail from people (probably AE users) who were interested in finding out more about combustion 3. I even received several messages asking for tutorials. You asked for it, you got it. In this, the first part of a new on going series, well exam the differences in the combustion 3 workflow, and what you need to know if you are migrating from After Effects, or simply adding combustion to your application expertise.

For greater clarification of new terminology, I will include the After Effects equivalent word in parentheses.

In this exercise, well create a simple workspace (Comp) that includes a nested composition, several effects and transformations that are keyframed over time, and a text layer. I am starting with something simple, as this exact same effect can be created in both combustion 3 and After Effects 6.0.

Since Im not writing a book on combustion for the AE user, I will not always explain what every single button and feature does. If you are an experienced After Effects user, then most of this will be self explanatory.

The end result of our first combustion 3 exercise.

Step 1: Open combustion and create a New Workspace (Command+N on the Mac or Control+N on the PC the same as in After Effects). The New Window will open asking what you would like to create. Unlike After Effects, combustion 3 allows you to create all of your layers (Paint, Text, Composite, Edit, Solids, etc.) from this one window.

Select Composite from the Type drop down menu, name it ?The Natural World, and lets use DV NTSC as our preset. Set the background color to black, the bit depth to 8, and the duration to 10 seconds.

There are a couple of ways you can change the duration amount. The first is by clicking and dragging with your mouse in the Duration field. This allows you to scrub to your desired value. However, for very precise control this is not the best option. Instead you can click once in the field to highlight the value and enter your own amount. Be aware that in combustion 3 if you type 1000, it is not translated to 10:00, but rather 33:10. In combustion you can enter your time as frames (300 = 10:00), or by using the semi-colon (10:00=10:00), or by a period (10. = 10:00, while 10.. = 10:00:00). The third way to enter a value in any window is to double click the value, which brings up the combustion calculator. Here you can enter 1000 and get 10:00. You can also do simple math in base 6. For example if you type 103 (1:03) and add 55 frames you end up with 2:28.

The New window also allows you to determine if the new element you are creating is a 2D or 3D layer. This is different than turning on the 3D checkbox for a layer in After Effects. For this exercise, lets leave the Composite as a 2D layer.

When you have finished, click OK.

You will notice that after you create your Composite, that you dont have separate windows or palettes for your work. Instead, combustion 3 relies on keeping everything in one window. This is where most After Effects users will get the most confused and frustrated. Dont get too flustered, as you will soon find out, this new layout is pretty logical in its design.

In the lower left hand corner of the screen, you will see a tabbed section called Workspace. This is the equivalent of your Project window in After Effects. You can already see that our new Composite is in there. The Tab to the left of the Workspace is the Toolbar, which is exactly the same as the After Effects Tools Palette. The big difference is in the type and number of tools available to you.

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