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Grow Bounds

Expanding your layers By Stephen Schleicher

Lets face it, not all of the elements you bring into After Effects are going to conform to your comp size some will be larger and some will be smaller.  In the case of the element that is smaller than your composition size, you often will run into problems with certain effects that, in order to work correctly, need to go beyond the edge of the layer.  How do you fix this?  Read on?

In this example, you may have an element like the logo file in the following image. 

As can be seen from the Project Window, the element is only 463 pixels wide and a meager 219 pixels high.  While we can add this without problem to our composition, look at what happens when an effect like Trapcodes Shine is applied to the layer.

Some effects, like Shine, can not reach beyond the edge of the layer, resulting in a less than stellar results.

There are a several ways to solve this problem.  The first is to Pre-Compose your layer (Command+Shift+C on the Mac or Control+Shift+C on the PC).  This nests the layer into its own composition and allows the Shine effect to be applied.

The second way to solve this problem is also a well known add an Adjustment Layer.  As I have previously discussed in this article , any effect applied to an Adjustment Layer will affect all layers below it.

Both of these solutions are all well and good, but there is a third solution that is available that not many users know about.  It is the Grow Bounds effect (Effect>Image Control>Grow Bounds).

As the name implies the Grow Bounds effect allows you to expand the bounds of the layer thus allowing effects like Shine to work as expected.

Here is a quick rundown on how to use it.

  • With your layer selected in the Timeline apply the Grow Bounds effect to the layer. 
  • In the Effect Control Panel, increase the Pixel Amount until your once puny layer is the size you need it.  In this case is as large or larger than the Composition.
  • Apply the other effects like Shine and use as normal.

There are obvious advantages to using Grow Bounds; first, you dont have to Pre-Compose your layer, which keeps you from having to open multiple compositions to animate elements and effects, and second you dont have to worry about layer order and accidentally having an Adjustment Layer mess with your work.

With each release of After Effects, Adobe continues to add more native effects to the application.  If you have just upgraded to 6.0 or are going to upgrade to the next release of After Effects, it will definitely benefit you to take the time and explore the new additions.

Stephen Schleicher When not working deep in the labs of the DMN Central Division testing the latest and greatest software/hardware products Stephen Schleicher can be found at the local university teaching a few courses on video and web production. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also visit him on the web at www.mindspring.com/~schleicher.


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at [email protected]

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