I know a number of people who have a full Adobe Creative Cloud licence, are welded to Premiere Pro and know Photoshop and Illustrator inside out and upside down but have never looked at After Effects.
And here I am going to digress for a bit.
Way back last century, Lotus (remember them? They had a bit of success with a spreadsheet program called 1-2-3, until Excel came along anyway) released a program called ‘Notes’.
As a freelance journo at the time, mainly writing reviews on software, I of course requested a copy. I was denied me more times than I care to count for some reason, then one day out of the blue, it just turned up. All 43 floppy disks of it to install under then, Windows 95.
Now Corporates had flocked to Notes en masse, and I was keen to see what the fuss was about. But you know what, after months of playing with it, I still had no bloody idea what it actually definitively did. And no-one could explain it to me either.
So I gave up.
Fast forward a few years, and I had got into video, mainly playing with Adobe Premiere 4.2. And I had heard about this software called After Effects. And history repeated itself.
Time after time I requested off Adobe’s PR company at the time a review copy, and time after time they said ‘no’, as “I wouldn’t understand it”.
Eventually a new PR company was engaged by Adobe, and my request was fulfilled, and you know what? Initially I found they were right. Sort of. I did understand it, or at least the concept, but how you used it I wasn’t sure of.
But instead of giving in, I instead dug in and started trawling through user groups to get some ideas.
Enter stage left a pair of geniuses, Trish and Chris Meyer, still to this day probably the most ardent After Effects supports there has ever been, and brilliant communicators of the what, how and why of the program.
What I am trying to suggest is that I wonder how many people have access to After Effects, but after a quick look go “too hard” and pack it away again.
And if you are one of those, you are doing yourself and the program an injustice.
The precis of After Effects is not really that hard. It is called a ‘Motion Graphics’ program, and that is exactly what it does.
I remember the first tutorial that Trish Meyer pointed me to; you imported a circle drawn in Illustrator and placed it on the right of the ‘window’. Using the After Effects twirl down menus and keyframes you then changed the colours of the interior of the circle, changed the size of the circle, all while it moved slowly from the left of the screen to the right of the screen.
And that was it. And covers After Effects possibilities and potential in a nutshell.
Simply, it is a program that allows you to change the properties of an object over time top create a video clip. A property can be a shape, colour or size as demonstrated here, but it could equally be an image, a pixel, a mathematical expression – anything that can be applied to an “object” is effectively a property. And the possibilities are endless.
So have another look. Here is a base tutorial to get you going. And if you don’t have After Effects, you can get a 7 day trial from Adobe here (Mac and Windows)
Once you have a grasp of the base native power of After Effects – and there is a LOT – you can start looking at plugins from companies such as Red Giant and BorisFX that amplify that power a millionfold.