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 – 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.

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.

20% off new Todd Kopriva After Effects workshop

20% off new Todd Kopriva After Effects workshop

This week I’m giving a 20% discount to anyone who wants to buy the fantastic new workshop on Motion Tracking & Stabilisation by Todd Kopriva which is now available to buy from my video training store. Just enter MOTION into the Coupon Code box when buying from my shop. It’s valid till July 15th 2011.

If you want to check out some free samples before buying there are some links to free sample movies here, including; An Overview of the mocha-AE Interface and Workflow, Overview of Warp Stabilizer Effect and more details about the Warp Stabilizer controls and workflow

This workshop covers all the tools and techniques used for motion tracking and image stabilization in After Effects, including the point tracker, the Warp Stabilizer Effects, and mocha-AE. The contents of this course include:

This chapter introduces you to motion tracking and shows you frame-by-frame how manual motion tracking works.

Motion Tracking with the Point Tracker
Once you determine what kind of motion you want to track, you’ll need to decide what you will apply the tracking data to. This chapter explains your options and shows you how to remove tracking markers when you’re done.

Motion Tracking with mocha-AE
This chapter walks you through using mocha-AE, a standalone application that can export tracking data for use in After Effects.

Stabilizing Motion
Ever been frustrated working with shaky footage? This chapter shows you how to add stability to your projects by using the new Warp Stabilizer effect.

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. This course also includes project files so you can follow along and try out new techniques as you learn them.

Speaking at Flash on the Beach 2011

Speaking at Flash on the Beach 2011

I was very pleased to get a call from John Davey, the organiser of the amazingly successful and entertaining “Flash on the Beach 2011” conference, asking me to speak at his event.

It’s an annual conference, held in my home town of Brighton. Bringing together the best designers, developers and minds in the Flash, design and web community, it’s a conference with a difference. It attracts an interesting and diverse mix of people and is focussed on the work that we do as well as the tools that we use.

I’ll be doing a session on creating Kinetic Typography animation in Adobe After Effects CS5.5. I’ll be featuring a breakdown of a real-life art project that I worked on in collaboration with Artist Richard Walker titled “That Day”. In this session I want to focus on the design process and demonstrate how After Effects allows creative flexibility throughout a project. For my more geeky attendees, don’t worry! I’ll also share plenty of my software tips and tricks as well as important techniques for structuring projects and optimising workflow in Adobe After Effects.

I’ll also feature some extracts from my book “Design Essentials for the Motion Media Artist” and will be giving away a copy of it, plus a copy of my “After Effects CS5 Learn by Video” training DVD. There are always lots of great parties, dinners and other networking events structured around Flash on the Beach and you’re guaranteed to meet and interesting and eclectic mix of creatives and geeky types. So why not book a place now, it sells out fast every year!

A busy After Effects week

A busy After Effects week

Wow, what a busy week. I’ve just finished the first day of Broadcast Video Expo 2011 where I’ve been presenting After Effects and the Production Premium workflow on the Adobe booth. It’s been great being back with the Adobe UK team again and seeing lots of friendly faces.

I’ve also got a brand new product released today. My new Character Animation with Adobe After Effects workshops with video2brain are now on sale. You can check out some free sample movies here by clicking the link. Enjoy and please let me know what you think.

Happy Keyframing!


Uprezzing Comps

Uprezzing Comps

A question appeared on the Video Copilot website today about uprezzing old projects which can be a bit of a nightmare in AE. You can often find that layers positions get messed up and effects change appearance when you scale your comp.

Some of the issues that you’ll come across are hard to avoid but you can make the process a little easier by using some of the scripts that come free with After Effects CS5.

Incidentally, making projects bigger is a massive headache so always good (if you have the opportunity of course) to create your projects at the biggest size you think may be required. If there’s ANY chance of HD requirements then use HD, even if the immediate requirement is only for SD.

Having said all that, there are always times when you need to up-rez. Updating old projects for showreels; adapating other old projects for new jobs etc. So, if you simply HAVE to do it, there’s a couple of scipts that will work. In the Demo Palette (can be opened by going to File > Scripts > Demo Palette) there are two gems, one is called ‘Scale Comp’ and can be used to scale your entire composition, keeping all layers in the correct position. The other is called ‘Scale Selected Layers’ which will work on a selection within a comp, again, maintaining their position relative to each other.

You need to make sure your preferences are setup correctly to use scripts in order to use these. to do so, go to Preferences >General > Allow Scripts to Write Files and Access Network.

You will still need to go through the somewhat painful process of editing effects but this will save you a lot of work with layers etc.

To find out more about After Effects and download some FREE movies, check out my After Effects CS5 Learn by Video page where you can watch excerpts and learn more tips.