January 23, 2010

Getting started with After Effects II

[Update: for CS5, see these newer resources on the basics,

1) "Getting started and tutorials" aka "Learn After Effects CS5" (hypertext guide to resources), and

2) a video series on Adobe TV also called Learn After Effects CS5.

3) In September 2010, Adobe added an in-depth introductory course by Adam Shaening-Pokrasso, Classroom: Basic Compositing and Animation in After Effects CS5. Todd Kopriva outlines these classes and adds links to pages in AE Help that give more detail about each subject.

4) a growing number (over 21) of free videos from AE CS5: Learn By Video, notes free samples from After Effects CS5: Learn By Video, a DVD and book training set by Angie Taylor and Todd Kopriva.

5) Todd Kopriva provided a master list of After Effects basics tutorials by Andrew Devis, and Casey Faris and Rampant Design Tools posted Discovering After Effects.

 /update]


Todd Kopriva recently posted a great summary of resources, Getting started with After Effects, which looks at essential resources to learn AE. Our summary here, not just a sincere form of flattery, changes the focus a bit to stress video-based introduction tutorials, which are often easier to assimilate and learn for the beginner. While this is the case, it's important to remember that there is a manual, which is now online and searchable for very fast results. The AE Help system contains tips that you may not find anywhere else, along with comparative visual examples of filters, modes, presets, etc. Did you know, for example, that you can generate motion blur using motion estimation with just After Effects (with better results than CC Force Motion Blur):

"To achieve a result similar to the result of ReelSmart Motion Blur, apply the Timewarp effect, set Speed to 100, enable motion blur within the effect, and use the manual shutter control features to adjust the motion blur."

So whenever you have a question, try searching for an answer using After Effects Community Help to leverage the accumulated knowledge of the After Effects community. We can only hope it will grow in strength, even during tough economic times.

In the old days we had to walk miles through snow to pay for AE tutorials, if there were any, but now there's tons of worthy free stuff. Video Copilot is offering their 13-hour Basic Training series (covering the CS3 era) for free over the web. See especially the summary of this series by Adobe Help lead Todd Kopriva, which mentions what each episode shows especially well and adds links to documents that provide more information. Other series on AE CS3 for beginners by Graham Castronovo of Tutorial Clarity and by Sanjeev Bhalotia Of Noobskool may also be helpful.


Chris & Trish Meyer have posted introductions to AE CS4 from the DVD of the 2nd edition of After Effects Apprentice, a book designed for students and those who do not use AE full time like editors and web designers. The movies are an hour and a half of video tutorials that provide gentle introductions to major features inside After Effects, such as text and expressions. They also have many other free tutorials at Artbeats Tips and Artbeats video podcast, Pro Video Coalition (CMG + CMG Keyframes), and Lynda.com.

Focal Press has a handy selection of tutorials in both video and PDF from their books After Effects Apprentice, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects (with a free CS4 update), The After Effects Illusionist, After Effects Expressions, Flash + After Effects, Creative After Effects 7, After Effects in Production, and Focal Easy Guide to After Effects.

Todd Kopriva and Video2brain provide a free video FAQ series to help you zip past common hurdles in just 20 minutes.

Todd also points the way to video tutorials in several languages in his 2009 post, After Effects video tutorials, esercitazioni, tutoriales, didacticiels, Lehrgänge, チュートリアル. In English, he points to searches for videos using Adobe Community Help and to the Adobe AE Help page Services, downloads, extras, and video tutorials, which organizes Adobe (and partners) video tutorials into categories forming a comprehensive introductory "course." [Later... Todd threw together some community resource listings in various languages -- English, French, Spanish, German, and Japanese.]

AdobeTV has several channels for beginners (Todd Kopriva organized most of these at the link above): Adobe Beginner Classes with Dennis Radeke (basics of Adobe's video and audio products), Learn CS4 Production Premium, and Learn After Effects CS4. A new set of videos by Adam Shaening-Pokrasso walks you through an in-depth introductory course; Todd Kopriva summarizes these classes and links to pages in AE Help that give more detail about each subject.

AEtuts has many tutorials for beginners (though not organized as such), including What's the Difference (on AE vernacular) and Basix tutorials like the 2-parter (1, 2) from Kajik.

Of course there's tons more of other free resources, many listed in the sidebars right; Aharon Rabinowitz, Creative Cow (podcast or text), Eran Stern, Greyscale Gorilla, Maltaannon, Motionworks, and Video Copilot all post new video tutorials regularly.

There's also some good aggregators mentioned earlier in Re-collecting After Effects tutorials, like FilmmakerIQ's 1001 Adobe After Effects Tutorials, as well as AE Portal News, HashAE, motion graphics eXchange, SqueezeMe.tv, and VisualFxTuts.com.

Among websites that charge a fee and have a large library of beginning and more advanced tutorials are Lynda.com (free 7-day pass via Trish & Chris Meyer; some free at DMN), fxphd, and Total Training.

One good way to learn is to go straight to the shortcuts, so check out the Adobe After Effects CS4 Keyboard Shortcuts Cheatsheet by Denis Klepcha on Aetuts and AE Help guidance to dig deeper for the complete list, easy script access, and more.

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