Video Design With After EffectsVideo Design With After Effects

Let’s not kid ourselves. Adobe After Effects is an incredibly complex piece of software. Its learning curve has its challenges, but with practice and dedication you can get really good and be on your way to an exciting career in motion graphics or vfx. The following is a list of 10 simple tips we wish someone had pointed out when we got started in Adobe After Effects.

1 – Design First

Whether it’s in on a piece of paper, your favorite design program, or After Effects itself, it’s so important to design first. It’s tempting to want to just dive into creating an animation, but without a design it will not matter how good it moves. This is an important step often overlooked by most beginners to learn Video Design With After Effects.

2- Make an Animatic or Rough Cut

In animation, timing is one of the most important aspects when getting started in After Effects. Making a rough cut or animatic of your sequence provides the blueprint of your video. This is usually done by arranging your shots or design frames in a specific order. It’s also important to do this to music as it sets the tone of your final product. It gives you a plan and sometimes it helps illustrate to clients what you will be working on. You don’t just start building a house. You have to lay the foundation first.

3 – Stay Organized

Keeping your assets accessible by setting up folders in your project window will keep you productive. It’s usually a good idea to set them up by media type. For example video may go in a folder you create called “video”. When animating or compositing always pre-compose several layers that are working together by going to the layer menu and selecting the last option labeled “pre-compose”.

4 – P-R-S-T

Most animation in Adobe After Effects involve animating a layer’s position, rotation, scale or opacity. Navigating each of these attribute’s keyframes when starting out in After Effects can get a little confusing. Are you sure you are adding a keyframe to the position and not rotation? P,R,S,T are the keyboard shortcuts for each one of these attributes. So having a layer selected and pressing the following keyboard shortcut can get you animating faster:

p= Position

r= Rotation

s= Scale

t= Opacity

5- Linear Spatial Interpolation

When starting in After Effects it happens all the time, you go to set a 3rd position keyframe somewhere and you get this sort of weird boomerang effect. To fix this, make sure you select your position keyframes and go to the “Animation” menu and select “Keyframe Interpolation” then from the “Spatial Interpolation” drop-down menu select “linear”.

6 – Easy Ease In

In most cases make sure you select your last keyframe on everything you do and go to the “Animation” menu and select “keyframe assistant” then “Easy Ease In”. In the real world things almost always stop this way. Any motion ending without an Easy In is the first giveaway of an beginner After Effects user.

7 – Keep Things Moving

When using After Effects make sure things are always moving, what we mean by this is that after the main animation ends there should always be some form of secondary motion. This seems simple enough, but we often see a really nice animation of a logo or type element that loses impact by coming to a complete stop. It’s important to keep a small drift or something to keep it moving. This keeps something interesting happening for your viewer’s attention.

8- Parent to a Null

Nulls are your friends. Parenting layers and cameras to a Null can help you achieve interesting animation. Several layers can be parented to an animated Null and each individual layer can have it’s own animation. The same can be said for cameras. A good camera move can have great secondary motion by using a Null.

9- Use Track Mattes

Track Mattes are one of the most simple, yet powerful tools inside After Effects. They can quickly help you add interesting animations to logos, type elements, or video. The beauty of them is that you can also quickly reuse a track matte layer across your entire After Effects project.

10- Don’t use Tutorials

Don’t use tutorials. Just learn from them! Seems simple enough, but sadly too many beginners are eager to show off their newest rip off from the tutorial they just saw at or other sites. Learning from the vast resources the internet has to offer is probably one of the best ways to learn. In some cases they are better than most expensive schools, but don’t misunderstand. The goal is that these techniques you learn are to aid you in creating your own. Nothing calls out a beginner more often than copying from a tutorial.

We hope you enjoyed these tips on how to learn Video Design With After Effects and help you get started in Adobe After Effects. This is in no way everything you need to know as you dig into these amazing piece of software, but we sure hope you find them useful.

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