Animating and Creating 3D Objects in After Effects

Adding Audio, Markers, and a Plug-In

Your browser needs to be JavaScript capable to view this video

Try reloading this page, or reviewing your browser settings

This video segment demonstrates creating an audio layer, and using markers on that layer to synchronize with the animation.


  • Audio
  • markers
  • plug-ins
  • Saber
  • effects
  • synchronizing

About this video

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

Video Transcript

The next step we’re going to take is we’re going to import some music, and then we are going to place markers at the cymbal crashes in the music. And to do so, we need to go File, Import File, dogma.aif, which is a file that came with my Mac computer as part of the GarageBand software. If you don’t have a copy of this, I can provide a copy of it if you want to use it for this piece.

So I’ll bring that in, dogma.aif. I’m going to drag and drop it into the bottom, here, and then I’m going to need to RAM Preview the audio here. I’m going to reduce my resolution to a quarter here, make it go a little quicker. Bring the play head to the beginning, and I’ll hit the Spacebar.


OK, so you can hear the cymbal crashes in the music. It’s all instrumental. And we’re going to place markers at the cymbal crashes so that we can synchronize some action with those markers. So the shortcut for placing markers is the Asterisk key. So as I play this through, I’m going to listen for the cymbal crashes with my finger over the Asterisk key, then I’m going to make markers at those points. So let’s do that. I’ll hit the Spacebar.


OK, so you could see I placed markers there. If I’m a little bit off– I might be a little bit off on these last two– you can easily move a marker by putting your mouse on it, clicking, and dragging it over. So let’s see if that’s where the cymbal crash is. That’s better. That looks pretty good.

So these markers will correspond to a buildup of energy in here and a beam being emitted that we’re going to create from a plugin. So let’s go and start doing that. I’m going to first Create a New Solid.

This particular effect I’m going to put on is called Soft Smoke. So I’ll call it Soft Smoke. We’ll make it comp size, black. And we have this layer, and the effect that I created on this is actually coming from a plugin called Saber, which I installed as a plugin from Video Copilot.

So I’ll give you the link for the plugin. You can go to the site. You can install the plugin, relaunch After Effects. And once it’s installed, it’s called Saber. There it is. If I double-click on that Soft Smoke layer, you’ll see the Saber.

I’m going to change the Blend Mode to Screen so that the black drops out and I could see through the layer below. So there it is. You can see this is the basic setting on this.

There are a couple of adjustments that can be made on this. There are the Glow Intensity– you can see what that does– the Glow Spread– let’s see what that does– and the Core Size of the glow. There are a few others here that can be adjusted, but I’m going to start by picking one of the presets in here. There are quite a few in here. And the one I’m going to choose is Soft Smoke.

So that has a smoky kind of effect on it already. It’s already in sort of an “orange-y” color. Of course, you could change the color if you want. But I’m going to start with this, and I’m going to first go down to my layer, and I’m going to hit the R key for rotation, because I want to rotate this so that it’s horizontal. Then I’m going to hit the Shift-S key for scale, and I’m also going to hit the Shift-P key for position.

So I’ll start with the position here. I have my Selection Tool active. I’ll move it into position, where I want. And you can see that the beam doesn’t quite reach the end there, so then I’m going to go to my scale, and I’m going to scale this up so that it reaches the end there, like so. There it is. So let’s see what it does, here, as I scrub. You can see the beam does this, as a blast. And from here, we will animate it further in the next video.