Happy Birthday After Effects

Happy Birthday After Effects

Happy Birthday After EffectsI’d just like to celebrate a momentous occasion by saying Happy 20th Birthday After Effects. It may seem odd to wish a software application birthday greetings but After Effects is so much more than just an app. It’s the great team of people who build it, the strong user community that support it, the network of professionals who push it’s boundaries to new directions, the third-party community who provide extra functionality and take risks with user-demands and of course the company who bought it and nourished it, and allowed the original team enough freedom to develop it into the De Facto motion graphics application, bar none.

After Effects has a life of it’s own and she has her own personality. She is intelligent, good-looking, hard-working, courageous, funny, belligerent, stubborn, creative, inventive, reliable, naughty, reckless and smart – who could resist such a lethal combination? Not me, I was smitten as soon as I animated one of her properties! I’ve seldom looked back.

Before After Effects (BAE) I would go from job to job, sticking at them for a maximum of two years before getting bored and moving onto the next thing. I’ve been dishwasher, kitchen assistant, chef, prop-maker, model-maker, airbrush artist, cartoonist, deejay, sound engineer but none of them fulfilled me. After Effects did, it offered me so much creative flexibility I would never be bored again. In fact she still throws up endless ideas and new ways of working each time I delve into her timeline, it’s like After Effects has become an extension of my brain. I lose myself in her, and I love it.

To celebrate this occasion I’m giving away some of my latest animation presets in my newsletter. Check out the movie above to see them in action;

These are used in the image illustrating this article and are made with native After Effects features (no additional software required). I’ll also be sharing some tips and tricks so if you don’t want to lose out, please subscribe here.

I could go on but there are many people who I’d like to thank for my career and inspiration. I can’t name them all but special shout-outs go to the entire After Effects team past and present. In particular I’d like to thank these Adobe people; Dave Simons, Dan Wilk, Todd Kopriva, Steve Forde, Kevin Monahan, Jim Guerard, Michael Coleman, Steve Kilisky, Mansi Grover, Eve Hatton, Rory Duncan, Mark Harrison, Mitch Wood, David Trescot, Al Mooney, Bill Hensler, Bruce Bowmann, Bruce Bullis, Ton Fredricks, Karl Lee Soule, Jason Levine, Johan Jonker, Erica Schisler, Amacker Bullwinkle, Nina Ramos, Ellen Wixted, Michael O’Neil, Jane Birch, Michelle Galina, Simon Hayhurst, Simon Williams, Matthew Gyves, Niels Stevens, Eric McCashey, Robin Charney and Dawn Osbourne. there are countless others – I thank you all.

I’d also like to add a big thanks to all the plug-in developers who helped push the product to where it is today (you know who you are). Also to the script-geniuses (or is that genii?) at AEscripts.com.

And finally a special thanks go to René Hedemyr for the amazing Media-Motion list where I met all my AE-pals and learned all about the application from some of the best in the business including Trish Meyer, Chris Meyer, Brian Maffit and countless others. I love this community. Thank you all.

Happy Keyframing!

Review of After Effects CS6: Learn by Video

Review of After Effects CS6: Learn by Video

I was very excited to read this very in-depth review of After Effects CS6: Learn by Video on Amazon today;

5.0 out of 5 stars | August 20, 2012

A good solid base upon which to build

Diane Cipollo (Editor at BellaOnline.com) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Adobe After Effects CS6: Learn by Video (Paperback)

I get many emails asking for the best way to begin learning a new software such as After Effects. My first suggestion is to start with a training video for the software of your choice. This is especially true for a robust and complex software such as After Effects CS6.

I found After Effects to be intimidating in spite of my strong Adobe Flash background but the Adobe After Effects CS6 Learn by Video training course from video2brain gave me a good solid base upon which to build. The authors Todd Kopriva and Angie Taylor share the instruction with Kopriva covering the technical aspects of the software and Taylor covering the creative.

The authors start with a short history of the After Effects software leading to what’s new in version CS6. With a panel-by-panel tour of the user interface, you are introduced to the basic project workflow and terminology.

Next, you learn what makes up a basic composition and how to build your own comps from scratch. You first learn how to create a line of text with the Character panel and a block of text with the Paragraph panel and then move on to using shape layers for creating simple and complex vector shapes.

The fun really starts with the Effects and Presets panel. You will learn how to apply a Keylight effect to turn the original background transparent. Then you create a new solid which will be your new background to which you can add effects such as the CC Mr. Mercury effect.

Not all comps are built from scratch. You learn how to import assets such as movies, stills, image sequences and audio. Also introduced is how to manage and organize the various assets for your comp. Of course, you will need to know the options for importing Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro files. You will also learn about interlacing, pixel aspect ratio, and trimming basics.

Halfway through the course, we get to the part I enjoy the most which is animation. First, you cover the basics including how to use keyframes and tweens to control the transformation of various properties. Next, you cover motion paths and how to use Motion Sketch to draw freehand paths. Delving deeper into animation, you learn about the various types of keyframes in After Effects and how to use the Keyframe Assistants and Graph Editor to refine your animations.

The next section covers text animations. Taylor covers options for importing text created in Photoshop and how to edit the text in After Effects. She then demonstrates an easy and fast way to animate each letter individually with the Text Animators. She shows you how to combine animators to create more complex animations and how to save your custom animators as presets. Next we see how shape layers can be used to create many effects, as well as using the Repeater to emulate a particle-like effect.

Switching back to Kopriva, we learn the basics of compositing and how many effects can be created using Blending Modes, Alpha Channels and Masks. Next he discusses common problems and how to correct them with Color Keying, Motion Tracking and Rotoscoping.

The next section concentrates more closely on how to create custom effects. Beginning with a discussion of the Effect Controls panel and categories. Taylor also covers how to use keyframes to animate properties and how to apply easing. One nice feature is the Brainstorm viewer that lets you preview variations of effects and save them as presets. She also discusses what she calls fixer effects for solving common problems such as rolling shutter. She ends this section by covering how to edit layer styles and adjustment layers imported from Photoshop to create effects.

When working with video, you can manipulate the frame rate to achieve various effects. Kopriva first discusses frame rate in general and then covers common retiming tasks such as Time Stretching, Time Remapping, Freeze Frame, Slow Motion and Reverse Frame.

The next section concentrates on your workflow and ways to use grouped and linked layers as well as nesting and pre-composing. One example of character animation demonstrates parenting hierarchy and IK. You also learn about expressions and how easy it is to write your own for complex animation.

Animating 3D effects can add realism to your projects and this section of the course begins by discussing how to use the 3D wireframe and other views needed to work in 3d space. Once you are familiar with working in 3d space, Taylor moves on to how to animate by bending layers. She also covers the basics of using camera presets and controls for depth of field and point of interest. Next, she adds lighting to the 3D scene and walks you through the various types of lighting such as Environmental, Point and Spotlight and how to work with cast shadows and reflections. Reflections can be very important to the realism of your scene and Taylor discusses the various controls such as Reflection Intensity, Sharpness and RollOff, as well as Specular Intensity and Shininess and Environmental Layer maps.

Switching back to Kopriva, we discuss optimizing software performance by adjusting the default preferences and taking advantage of Ram and Disk Catching. Next, he covers After Effects default render order and how this order determines the final render, much like the hierarchy in Cascading Style Sheets determines the final HTML document.

After Effects has several options for exporting your projects and in this section Kopriva discusses how to use the Render Queue. Much like other video exporting, he shows you how to set the various format options. He discusses how to use preset output templates and how to save your own custom settings as a template. He demonstrates how After Effects can save time by rendering several formats simultaneously. Next, he does a walk through of how to use the Adobe Media Encoder to choose output presets for Vimeo, Apple and Android.

The final section is a wrap up and final thoughts. It examines several projects and discusses how they were made. It also covers how to integrate After Effects with Cinema 4D.

The course includes 10+ hours of the video2brain Learn by Video series and supporting files for following along for a hands-on, watch-and-work teaching approach. Also included with the DVD is a small booklet with additional information. As with all the Learn by Video series, you have an easy-to-use control panel for viewing the videos.

Todd Kopriva has been with Adobe and After Effects since version 7.0. He creates Adobe documentation and training materials. Angie Taylor has worked 14 years in motion graphics and animation. Examples of her work have been featured on the BBC.

*Peachpit Press provided a copy to me for review purposes.

Textonomy Presets for Sapphire Edge

Textonomy Presets for Sapphire Edge

My brand new Textonomy Presets for Sapphire Edge are now available from the Genarts FX Central Website.

OK, sometimes you need text, but no-one says it has to be boring. These ten effect presets, designed for text will have your viewers sitting up and taking notice.

Camoflash A Camouflage-style of pattern is applied to text to give it texture. The Jitter Frames value adjusts the sped of the flashing animation of the texture.

Disintegrator Added to text this will have the effect of giving it a slight disintegrated quality. Great for adding a bit of damage to your motion graphics.

Damage Limitation Scratches, stains, dust and shake are added to text to give it a more organic appearance. Perfect for those “”Seven”” inspired film titles.

Steeley Glare Adds a textured steel effect to layers. Specifically designed for use on text to add an interesting textured fill.

Searchlight This grainy effect plunges your text into semi-darkness and highlights it by adding a searchlight to it. Vignette Centre property is keyframed in the preview movie to make the light move over the text.

Textatic A groovy, tiling pattern that looks great applied to geometric text. In the preview movie animation is added by keyframing the Inside Rotation property.

Trippy Hippy Tiled instances of your text move together in a fluid way to create a groovy movement reminiscent of 60’s dancing. In the preview movie the Zoom property has been keyframes to create additional movement.

Mittageisen Designed to add a metallic look to outlined text.

Interference Animated scan lines and a dodgy reception effect make your text look slightly damaged. Less than perfect and much more interesting as a result.

Metal Postcard A great preset for adding a metallic sheen to your text layers. Who’d have thought you could use a half-tone effect for that!

Vibrant Vignette Presets for Sapphire

My Vibrant Vignette Presets for Sapphire were released this week. This collection features a weird and wonderful collection of vignettes in an attempt to prove that vignettes don’t always need to be black and circular.

These vignettes which will give your footage extra atmosphere, extra mood, extra pop. Use them as they are or adapt them to fit your own designs.

These are free too all FX Central users. If you own Sapphire for any of the following hosts you can open the preset browser, login to FX Central and get working with them right away, on your own footage.

If you don’t own Sapphire you can find out more information and download a free trial here.

As Sun Goes Down clip
Azure Father clip
Black is Black clip
Blue Rondo clip
Bonded Circle clip
Burning Man clip
Cool Bright Spot clip
Dark Entries clip
Diagonal Accent clip
Golden Moment clip
Green Green Grass of Home clip
Heart of Gold clip
Purple Haze clip
Red Sky at Night clip
Sublime Concentration clip
Blackout Curtains clip
Blood Red Sky clip
Cinemapeture clip
Focus Spot clip
Inverted Subtraction clip
Loch Ness Mystery clip
Teal Accent clip
Tequila Sunrise clip
Dungeness Darkness clip
Cool Accent clip
Wild West Hero clip
Rose-tinted Spectacle clip
Warming Centre clip
Wedding Ring clip
White Heat clip
Adobe After Effects CS6 – Learn by Video

Adobe After Effects CS6 – Learn by Video

It’s finally here, my brand new After Effects CS6 – Learn by Video course. I worked on this course with Adobe’s Todd Kopriva who I just love working with. Together we teamed up to provide a good mix of technical and creative training in our favorite software application. We hope you enjoy it. Here’s an intro to the course from us both.

This Learn by Video course offers in-depth training on the interface, workflow, and features of Adobe After Effects CS6. If you subscribe to my newsletter you can get 20% off this course with a discount code. The contents of this course include:

Introducing After Effects CS6
In this chapter you’ll get an overview of how After Effects works, what it does, and what the main controls are.

Interface Tour
Before you start following along with the instructions in this training, it will help to learn what the controls are called and where things are located. You’ll learn about the basic controls and the most commonly used panels in this chapter.

Creating Compositions and Layers
In After Effects we work in projects. Every project contains compositions, each of which is the framework of a movie; layers are assembled within the framework of these compositions. In this chapter you’ll learn how to create compositions and bring layers into them from the Project panel. You’ll also learn how to create layers from scratch.

Importing Footage
In this chapter you’ll learn how to bring various types of files into After Effects. You’ll also see how to make sure After Effects interprets these files correctly and how to manage them once you get them in.

Interpreting and Managing Footage
Sometimes you need to tell After Effects how to use source files. This chapter shows you how to set various parameters for how files are interpreted and used.

Animation Basics
The most important aspect of learning to fully understand After Effects is getting to grips with how After Effects handles animation. Once you have mastered the topics covered in this chapter, you can really do anything in this powerful application.

Fine-Tuning Animation
This chapter will take your animation skills further by showing you how to understand timing. You’ll learn how to work in the Layer panel and the Graph Editor for more precise control over layers and animation.

Animating Text Layers
Text layers can be animated in a variety of different ways to create exciting and compelling motion graphics. In this chapter you’ll learn about the properties and methods used to control these layers. Text layer properties use a slightly different animation system than standard layer properties, so we’ll also discuss the idiosyncrasies involved in animating these wonderfully flexible design elements.

Fun with Shape Layers
Shape layers are pretty unique but can be confusing to new users. This chapter will help demystify shape layers and give you the confidence to push them in all sorts of creative directions.

Basic Compositing
Compositing is about stacking layers on top of one another and making parts of each layer show through others in specific ways. You’ll learn about many of the ways to composite layers together in this chapter.

After Effects provides you with scores of effects that you can apply to your layers, allowing you to create virtually any look or style you like. Imagine being able to animate all of these over time and you get a real sense of the creative flexibility that After Effects can offer you. This chapter tells you everything you need to know to create amazing effects.

A movie is a series of images that plays over time, and After Effects provides many powerful controls for controlling exactly how this happens. This chapter will teach you about tools like frame blending, slow motion, freeze-frame, and more.

Grouping and Linking
There are times when it makes sense to group layers together into a single item, either to simplify complicated comps or to make editing, moving, or applying effects a whole lot easier. In this chapter we’ll look at several methods for grouping layers together.

Introduction to 3D
After Effects allows you to transform and animate your layers within a 3D environment. This adds some complexity to your compositions. After Effects CS6 also lets you work in ray-traced 3D, where you can extrude and bevel shapes and text and even bend video layers. In this chapter you’ll see how After Effects deals with mixing 2D and 3D in the same composition.

Memory and Performance
Every person, project, and computer system is different. In this chapter you’ll learn how to configure After Effects to match your needs, the capabilities of your computer system, and the needs of your projects.

Render Order and Collapsing Transformations
Layers and their components are processed in a specific order. In this chapter you’ll learn about that order and how to use special features to control it

Output Options
When you’re finished with your project, you need to get your data out of After Effects, usually as a finished movie. In this chapter, you’ll learn the basics of rendering and exporting movies.

Project Explorations and Recap
This chapter contains some examples of animations created in After Effects along with explanations of how they were made. You’ll also get some tips on integrating After Effects with Cinema 4D, as well as some final thoughts on the course and suggestions for further learning.

The lessons are wrapped in a feature-rich interface that lets you jump to any topic and bookmark individual sections for later review. Full-Screen mode provides a hi-def, immersive experience, and Watch-and-Work mode shrinks the video into a small window so you can play the videos alongside your application. Also included are exercise files that give you an easy way to try out the techniques you learn and a 48-page guide containing supplemental material.

Mask Interpolation Tips

Mask Interpolation Tips

Masking is one of the features of After Effects that I get asked about the most during my After Effects training courses. People seem to have lots of problems animating masks in After Effects and I’ve noticed a few forum questions about it recently so I thought I’d provide some quick mask interpolation tips and links here for you today.

In one of my previous newsletter (you can subscribe here) we looked at how you can adjust the first vertex of a mask to help control the animation.

Here’s an excerpt from my Creative After Effects book that shows how to use Auto- Trace and Smart Mask Interpolation to help animate complicated Mask shapes.

I also have a brand new course in my video store from the amazing Jeff Foster. Advanced Compositing, Tracking, and Roto Techniques with After Effects has amazing tips, here are some free excerpts;

Roto-Painting Mattes

Basics of Match-Moving

Multiple Moving Elements/Layers

Check out our subscription offers for free access to all Jeff’s courses plus mine and all the other trainers at video2brain.

And here are additional tips that can help you when animating masks.

  • Remember that you can apply motion blur to a masked layer, at a low setting this will also add a little more smoothness to the interpolation.
  • When animating anything in After Effects, but particularly mask shapes, it pays to always start by setting the extreme points of the animation. For example, if your animation is 10-second long, set a keyframe at the very beginning and another at 10 seconds. Then go in between to 5 seconds and make any necessary changes. Once this is done, go to 2.5 seconds, set a keyframe there, then to 7.5 seconds and set another there. Continue positioning the Timemarker half-way in between the pairs of keyframes to set new ones until no other changes are necessary. Using this method will ensure that you add the least amount of keyframes necessary for the animation, the fewer keyframes, the less work it is to edit!
  • Here’s a link to the Masking section of the After Effects Online Help.

Bargains & “Free Stuff” for Designers

There are bargains & “free stuff” for designers and VFX artists right now in the Holiday sales.

I know that may of my readers are students and professionals who are just starting out in their career. Many of you may not be able to afford the full cost of commercial software so these sales give you a chance to make big savings.

For those who are really finding the financial crisis too much there are also some freebies here! I found this article about some of the free plug-ins for After Effects here at Filmmakeriq.com. It lists many of the free AE plug-ins you can download to make yourself feel like you’re getting a holiday treat! AE Tuts also have a list of free plug-ins here.

My friends at Artbeats have a massive 50% off all of their HD footage through to December 30th. Some collections are selling for as little as $100 so it’s worth a browse to see if there’s any footage you need to keep your library up to date. Their footage is Royalty Free so once you’ve bought it you are free to use it as many times as you wish.

If you’ve ever wanted to get up to date on third party plug-ins for After Effects and other software applications, now is the time to “get legal” as there are deals out there that will be hard to beat. Red Giant has a secret “one day sale” which they announced yesterday. Sadly the secret nature of the sale meant I wasn’t aware it was happening in time to include it in a blog till today but there are still 5 hours to go, it runs till 4pm GMT on December 14th. It includes must-have plug-in packs for every motion graphic designer and visual effects artist as well as individual plug-ins from the Magic Bullet Suite, Trapcode Suite and Red Giant’s own great suite of tools.

Toolfarm are also running a sale right now in tandem with the Red Gaint sale so if you have an account there, or would like to set up an account with the number one reseller of all things After Effects, now is a good time to set up that profile! They also have some freebies for the holidays so it’s definitely worth signing up.

Digieffects also have a sale on with plug-ins selling for as little as $49 in their winter sale.

Of course if you want something completely free there’s my “Style Eyes” Collection for Genarts Sapphire which is still available.

Happy Holidays people! 🙂

Kinetic Typography Techniques for After Effects

Kinetic Typography Techniques for After Effects

Kinetic Typography Techniques with After Effects

I was asked to create a workshop on Kinetic Typography techniques for Adobe After Effects by several people including the lovely people from video2brain who produced this epic workshop for me. I’d like to thank them all for their patience and professionalism throughout this long project!

I’m pleased to say that I have finally finished this epic workshop. It was originally planned as a one-hour tutorial but has developed into a full-on, eight-hour workshop covering all sorts of weird and wonderful techniques.

I started off by covering essential kinetic typography techniques such as automatically creating text layers by importing content from a text file – using Variables and Data Sets in Photoshop and Scripts in After Effects. I demonstrated how to format text, making use of typographic controls like Kerning and Baseline Shift to get creative with negative space. In the latter stages I applied some of the free Animation Presets, created and adapted complex text animators to help you understand how to control them.

"That Day" Music by Richard Walker


While creating this piece I just couldn’t help but get creative and I slightly strayed away from the task in hand. As a result this workshop also includes techniques you may not immediately associate with traditional kinetic typography. In the included lessons we have fun animating and lighting layers in 3D space. We recreate an animated version of the Sgt. Pepper album cover using After Effects’ vector Shape Layers.

Welcome Video

Introduction to Kinetic Typography

We even recreate an ancient stone circle from 3D text layers! You’ll also learn techniques for creating your own backgrounds, aged-film and dust and scratches effects by combining some of the built-in After Effects filters. Of course I also cover popular, requested techniques like animating handwriting on screen.

I use typography in my every-day work as a motion graphic designer but the artform of kinetic typography is different. The purpose of text in motion graphic design is to deliver a message. Generally, the text needs to be legible and on screen for long enough for the viewer to read and there are several other “rules” that are sensible to apply to motion graphic design. Kinetic typography as an artform kicks those rules into touch.

Editing and Looping Audio

Variables and Data Sets in Photoshop

My understanding of kinetic typography is that the words should be used to convey moods or feelings, they don’t need to be the message, they are just there to support it. My feeling is that the words should echo the spoken words rather than simply repeat what’s being said.

In my interpretation of Richard Walkers “That Day” (a poem set to music) I wanted to portray what I took personally from the piece. I understood it to be about the dissatisfaction we have with the present moment and how we avoid enjoying it by always thinking about the past or the future. This avoidance leads to confusion, frustration and general unsettled feelings.

In this workshop you get all my project files along with my creative musings about how these ideas developed. I hope that you can enjoy working on some of my own files and diving into my own personal creative project. Here are some sample movies from the workshop to give you an idea about what you can learn.

Aged Film with Turbulent Noise


Animate Handwriting with the Stroke effect


Free After Effects & Premiere Pro Performance Workshop

Free After Effects & Premiere Pro Performance Workshop

I’m excited to be able to offer a free top-up course on my website to all my lovely visitors. In this free course, Adobe Technical Support Lead Todd Kopriva offers dozens of tips for optimizing Premiere Pro, After Effects, your operating system, your computer, and your workflow for maximum speed and performance.

He makes recommendations for RAM, CPUs, graphics cards, and hard disks – both what to buy and how to set up your applications to make optimal use of these resources – and for setting preferences and other options in After Effects and Premiere Pro to minimize the amount of processing needed at each step of your workflow.

You’ll also learn what CUDA, OpenGL, and the Mercury Playback Engine are, and what each means to you in practical terms. After completing this workshop you’ll get more done in less time, both by making things work faster and by avoiding common causes of wasted time.