Who am I?
I'm Lauren Roundy and I love Adobe After Effects. It all started with my patriarchal blessing and this:
What Is After Effects?
Adobe After Effects is not a video or audio editing program (like Final Cut Pro, Avid, or Premiere Pro). It is a program used for two things: motion graphics and compositing.
Motion graphics applies to design (like animated logos, text, graphics, images, etc...) Let's look at some examples:
Compositing refers to visual effects (like adding or removing something from a scene in a movie). Think "green screen."
AE Interface Basics
To learn any new software, you'll first want to familiarize yourself with the user interface. Here are some of the more important UI panels to know about:
Understanding AEP Files
AEP files are After Effects Project files. This is where all of your hard work is stored. But AEP files are relatively small because they don't embed assets but only reference them. Let's compare an AEP file to a PowerPoint (ppt) file to see the differences.
Offline AE Projects
Because AE doesn't embed assets into AEP files, sometimes After Effects can't find files on a computer hardrive. This results in offline files within a project. Let's take a look at an offline AE project and learn how to "re-link" assets to make it work properly.
Compositions are where all the important work you do is recorded. The "timeline" and the "canvas" or Composition windows both allow you to edit your compositions. Comps can hold multiple file types and all of your keyframes, effects, masks, etc... Let's open up a project and play around with some comps.
Layers and Transforms
Everything's better when compared to food. I like to think of the layer order in AE like a hamburger or sandwich. When you view a sandwich from the side, you see all the layers of food stacked on top of each other. This is how the timeline looks. However, really when you see your composition in the composition preview window, it looks more like how you would see a sandwich if you were looking at it from the top down. Layers at the top of the "layer stack" appear to be in the front of everything else.
This is an old screenshot from an earlier version of AE, but the same concepts apply. All layers (except audio layers) have "transform" controls. These include Anchor Point, Position, Scale, Rotation, and Opacity. Transform controls can be keyframed or animated to create movement or to fade a layer in or out. There are some helpful hotkeys built into AE to access the transform controls easily.
Layer Transform Hotkeys
Keyframing & Animation Basics
Previewing Your Animation
After Effects has come a long way with how it shows you your work in After Effects. We'll talk about previewing basics and the work area bar.
Rendering Your Video
Previewing your work is one thing, but eventually you'll want to actually export your video for the whole world to see. After Effects has several options when it comes to rendering or exporting. We'll go over the basics of the Render Queue and we'll learn a bit about Adobe Media Encoder.