Before starting to list our tips and tricks on how to approach this versatile and interesting tool or acquire new creative “hacks” if you’re already using it, let’s give you a brief background of what is After Effects and what it allows you to do!
Cinematic Titles... Visual Effects (VFX)... Animations —all of this can be done in After Effects, a software produced by Adobe for graphic animation and post production at a professional level.
What is After Effects?
After Effects is similar to Photoshop, but with the ability to create effects on a timeline and insert them in your videos.
After Effects can be daunting, especially if you have just started to familiarize yourself with video editing and are fresh to the world of audio-visual production. Learning the basics, however, is quite simple if you are motivated!
To make your life easier when approaching Adobe’s dynamic software, here's a brief summary on how to learn Adobe After Effects and create your first project.
How to create a New Project
The first step when getting started with After Effects, whether you want to add special effects or just do some video editing, is to open a new project.
Projects, in fact, contain all your work and allow you to save or modify them without the risk of losing your progress.
At the top left of the program window, there is a menu bar. In the file section you can create projects, import and export video files. In the edit section you can undo or redo actions and in the effects section you can add effects to the layers!
To create the first project with After Effects, start the program and create a new composition by selecting Composition > New composition in the menu.
In the dialog box, you are going to set its parameters. First of all the project name, then the dimensions according to predefined or customizable formats.
Here you can also define other elements, such as the number of frames per second, the duration of the video, and the background color. When you have selected the desired properties select “OK” and the window with the new project will open.
You find these actions in this small tutorial video:
Now that you know how to start creating your project here you will find some useful articles/videos to go deep in the use of the program:
Waves and Effects:
Now that you have an idea of what AE is we want to share 3 small tips with you!
1. Use the original version of the program
First of all, keep in mind that Adobe allows you to try After Effects for free for seven days.
Once the free trial is complete, you will need to purchase the software through one of the subscriptions options. All Adobe subscriptions require the registration of an Adobe account and will remain linked to it until their conclusion.
The original version will allow you to work with every single feature of the program and also with the newest and updated version of it avoiding errors and the risk of losing your work.
Finally, the Adobe account allows you to access the dedicated forum in which you can ask for help, read a lot of interesting discussions and get tips and suggestions from the community—a great added value!
2. The only way to become a pro is to use After Effects a LOT
First using and experimenting with this tool will allow you to create some simple videos. By saving the file, we can reopen it to further modify it. When we export it, we can get a real video that we can watch with a video player such as Quicktime or flash.
After Effects also has professional, advanced functions, which allow you to manage the elements to be animated in 2D and 3D, through the use of scripts to achieve maximum precision.
There are also numerous special effects you can use to enrich images and video content.
Here, however, we enter a very high level of knowledge: before starting to create complex projects, you need to practice as much as possible with simple videos, to become familiar and move to a higher level.
Your best bet is to familiarize yourself first with the basic functions of the program, experiment with simple elements to find your footing, and develop a deeper understanding of how it works.
3. Don’t forget to use “Graph Editor” (for more experienced users)
A little tip to make your animations more professional and catchy: Animation curves are your friends!
If you are a newbie, don’t make the mistake of leaving the speed between one keyframe and the other constant.
In fact, with some small tricks and adjustments, it is possible to give an acceleration/slowdown effect that better simulates the physical properties of the world around us, making your video much more realistic.
At first the graph editor may seem uneasy to use, but it is really worth "finessing” a little bit to add a finishing touch to your first animations!
If you want to dive deep into graph editor, take a look to a couple of interesting videos we found for you:
Now that you're basically halfway to being an After Effects expert, make sure you take your newfound skills to one of our latest creative briefs for Snapchat to create Cameo Stickers—live right now! Check out the brief today.