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Recommended After Effects Skills to have

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Luis O Maymi
Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 11, 2014 at 8:28:31 pm

I was wondering about the most have skills for an After Effects user. For example I believe all users should know how to use expressions. What other skills you recommend?


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John Cuevas
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 12, 2014 at 2:23:13 am

Knowing expressions is very helpful, but not a necessity or something I find a majority of AE users know, or know more than just a few basics. I think it's important to have a good grasp of design theory &^ color theory.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor
Thinkck.com

"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.


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Richard Garabedain
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 13, 2014 at 4:51:03 am

I don't know expressions. I try to understand but can't grasp it. My best skill is seeing a n effect and knowing how to reproduce it. In order to do that you must experiment with as many effects as you can. Heck i don't think I've got them all down yet.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 13, 2014 at 9:29:31 am

Your question is difficult to answer, as After Effects has such a broad user base and different areas of work require different skills.

That said, in my opinion, the most fundamental skill for a professional Ae artist to employ is organization. This skill is critical for anyone working in a group, but it is also critical for lone wolves who may need to revisit a project next week, next month, or next year.

I don't like seeing project files full of "Precomp 31," "Adjustment Layer 42," and "Null 127" with everything hanging in the project root folder. I don't like to see illogical precomping, but neither do I like to see a massively layered comp where precomping would have made it easier to understand. I don't like to see complicated parenting chains across unnamed nulls spread out vertically all over the timeline. I don't like seeing time-remapping used as a crutch.

I like to see projects that are well-laid out, with meaningfully-named precomps and an organized project panel. I like to see layers with names that explain their purpose. I like to see comments in expression code. I like to see marker comments on tricky timing sections. I like to see label colors used to group like layers. I like to see the "Comment" column revealed and used. I like to see instructions and notes on guide text layers.

I believe this really requires the Ae artist to have the discipline to organize as they go. No corner-cutting, ever. Put every media file in its place in the file system immediately. If you can't trash every file on your desktop right now, you are doing production wrong. Put every asset in its appropriate project panel folder when you import it. Name every layer and precomp when you make it.

Putting organization off to the end is a good way to make sure it never happens, so do it right, and do it right away.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 15, 2014 at 2:34:02 am

I think a lot of these replies are hard to unpick. I think its far better to consider an after effects project from intent.

you will bring a sequential edit in. I think if you have postcards in your head for after effects moments, for what you can consider might happen after planning, that is better. you're bringing a structure you understand in, and then you carefully shoot for the moon.

don't like seeing project files full of "Precomp 31," "Adjustment Layer 42," and "Null 127" with everything hanging in the project root folder. I don't like to see illogical precomping, but neither do I like to see a massively layered comp where precomping would have made it easier to understand. I don't like to see complicated parenting chains across unnamed nulls spread out vertically all over the timeline. I don't like seeing time-remapping used as a crutch.

all these comments are self congratulatory bullshit. we've all done this. this comment is meaningless.

http://vimeo.com/user1590967/videos http://www.ogallchoir.net promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Walter Soyka
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 15, 2014 at 9:12:57 am

[Aindreas Gallagher] "all these comments are self congratulatory bullshit. we've all done this. this comment is meaningless."

Of course we've all built poorly-organized projects -- but that doesn't mean it's a good practice. I am very guilty of doing all the things I listed, but it made working too hard down the line so I try hard not to put myself back there. I am not smart enough to remember what I put on the "Black Solid 04" layer, but I don't need to click through solo buttons to know what "[solid] Element - title text" does.

You can find a plugin to make a cool lens flare or 3D effect. You can watch a zillion tutorials on projections or particles or what have you. You can find discussion of developing design skills [link]. But as almost no one really talks about actual good working practice, I sincerely thought this was some of the best advice I could give, and I tried to give real-world examples of that bad habits I see a lot of artists developing.

Disorganization is a time thief. It takes a second and a half, once, to name a layer or a comp. It takes a lot longer than that, over and over, to click through an unfamiliar or forgotten project and try to figure out what's what, or to navigate an large and unwieldy project. Once you make organization a habit, larger and/or collaborative projects become much more manageable.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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George Goodman
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 15, 2014 at 1:42:09 pm

I agree with Walter 100% (he's responsible for much sage advice around these parts).

I HIGHLY recommend using the Zorro the layer tagger plugin:
http://aescripts.com/zorro-the-layer-tagger/

Getting into good organizational habits while you're learning your way around is super important. I did not and had to gruelingly fight myself to fix the issue. (Whoops, did I just congratulate myself?)

"|_ (°_0) _|"

Sincerely,

George

http://www.vimeo.com/georgegoodman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/georgefranklingoodman


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 15, 2014 at 2:34:37 pm

yeah, i was waaaay too harsh there.

http://vimeo.com/user1590967/videos http://www.ogallchoir.net promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Luis O Maymi
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 17, 2014 at 6:44:15 am

Excellent advise. Luckily I had cultivated very serious organisational skills for all my projects. Is a learning process of course, since each time I try to make it more efficient. For example since Mavericks OS I been using the finders tabs and the desktops windows extensively to make my workflow more efficient.

You mentioned to trash every file on my desktop, I'm way ahead of you. In fact I only put "current projects" folders on my desktop. My desktop is always clean.

Naming adjustment layers is something I didn't do before so I will be implementing that to my projects.

Thanks for the great advise.

The meaning of a movie are the characters, the life of the movie is the music, but the magic is in the editing. – lomaymi


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George Goodman
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 13, 2014 at 1:27:11 pm

I agree with pretty much everything that was said. But my big thing - and a lot of this has to do with my style - is shape layers. Shape layers are by far one of the most powerful and important features to understand IMO.

If you learn shape layers and get really good with motion curves (the graph editor) you can do some really awesome stuff.

I would honestly just go through all the Lynda basic training stuff though. Buy a subscription for a couple of months and just bang them out. You really should just have a basic understanding of everything that's there. I also recommend making sure you actually do the projects, and not just watch them. That helps me retain things a lot better personally.

The last thing, and you're pretty much there by posting this, is get online, find a community, and practice practice practice. Find what you like, and emulate it. Get stuck? Post here. You'll find as you start doing all of this that you'll develop you're own style. But you'll never get anywhere if you don't make yourself do projects.

"|_ (°_0) _|"

Sincerely,

George

http://www.vimeo.com/georgegoodman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/georgefranklingoodman


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Rory Tate
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 15, 2014 at 3:50:05 am

George, I just wanted to commend the value of your advice. There ain't no easy way around learning AE. You really have to do the time and tuts. I know. I've been such a bloody dilettante for the last 3 years. Time for me o get serious.


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Luis O Maymi
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 17, 2014 at 6:51:43 am

Thanks for the reply George

About shape layers, isn't it better to create shapes in Illustrator since they are vector based and there are more options to edit there?

As for Lynda, I been a premium member for years. Right now I'm watching the course titled "Getting Started with After Effects Expressions".

The meaning of a movie are the characters, the life of the movie is the music, but the magic is in the editing. – lomaymi


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George Goodman
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 17, 2014 at 2:06:04 pm

You certainly can use illustrator to create shape layers ... but that's not After Effects ;)

Some of the blend modes etc. don't work when you move them over though if you convert from .ai to shape layer.

There are actually a lot of reasons to build the shapes right in AE. First of, smaller file sizes and faster render times. Also, the shape modifiers, especially the repeater, are pretty powerful. I find that typically illustrator is just an extra step that is unnecessary for me and often becomes messy if you turn the .ai into a shape layer.

Stick with the Lynda stuff for sure! If you want more info on expressions, check out Dan Ebberts website motionscript.com - I also found this book to be very useful: http://www.amazon.com/After-Effects-Expressions-Marcus-Geduld/dp/024080936X...

"|_ (°_0) _|"

Sincerely,

George

http://www.vimeo.com/georgegoodman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/georgefranklingoodman


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Walter Soyka
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 17, 2014 at 2:43:29 pm

[Luis O Maymi] "About shape layers, isn't it better to create shapes in Illustrator since they are vector based and there are more options to edit there? "

Ae shape layers are vector-based, too.

In addition to what George said, I'd mention that Ae shape layers are entirely parametric; you can modify and animate the properties at any time.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Luis O Maymi
Re: Recommended After Effects Skills to have
on Oct 17, 2014 at 7:01:29 am

I forgot to mentioned something that I find extremely essential, working with multiple monitors. When I work with After Effects (Premiere, Photoshop and even Blender) I always use two monitors and setup the workspace accordingly. I been editing like this for so many years that when I don't have a second monitor I feel kind of unproductive :-).

The meaning of a movie are the characters, the life of the movie is the music, but the magic is in the editing. – lomaymi


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