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Processing Animations in Photoshop

Two methods for applying Photoshop filters to After Effects sequences By Ko Maruyama
It used to be easy to copy your Photoshop filters into your After Effects plugins folder in order to use them on your animations. But with the new versions of Photoshop filters and After Effects 6, it's not an effective solution. Fortunately, After Effects 6 maintains an old trick that works just fine: the ability to export your animations so that you can work on them in Photoshop.

If you were familiar with the practice of sharing your Photoshop plugins with AfterEffects 4.x and previous versions, you have probably noticed that it is harder and harder to get those plugins to show up in After Effects these days. Now, with the introduction of so many variations of plugins for Photoshop that aren't recognized by After Effects, you'll have to resort to one of two methods for incorporating Photoshop filters into your After Effects workflow. We'll look at both methods today, one involving rendered sequences and one using the Filmstrip format.

Sequential render
One method of applying Photoshop filters to After Effects frames is to render a sequence, then "batch" that sequence with Photoshop, applying a Photoshop Action script to each frame in the animation.

In After Effects' Output Module (within the Render Queue), select your favorite sequence method. I'll use TIFF sequence. If you want to render with a TIFF embedded alpha channel, be sure to click the 32-bit option (3 color channels RGB x 8 bits each = 24 plus an additional 8 bits for an alpha channel = 32). You could also select Photoshop sequence in order to preserve the layers of your composition.

Once the sequentially numbered files are in their own folder, all you have to do is open Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch. Within the Batch dialogue, you can apply your favorite Action Script to every file in the folder. Note: If you don't know how to write an Action Script, check out David Nagel's tutorial Recording Actions in PS 7.

Once Batch has applied your "Photoshop only" effect to your sequence, you can import the frames back into After Effects to use in a comp, or simply gather them to render for final output. (Don't forget QT Pro allows you to open a sequence and save them as a regular QuickTime movie or export as .avi)

Here is an After Effects QuickTime and its Photoshop-batched counterpart. All that has been added is the Patchwork Texture filter. Although there may be a similar 3rd party plugin, or method to achieve this in After Effects, there may be other filters that don't enjoy such similarities to AE plugins. The drawback to this method is the lack of keyframable parameters within the effects. You can apply additive effects, most with integer values, to selective frames in order to simulate changing values.

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Related Keywords:Processing Animations, Photoshop, design


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