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I'm frustrated and need advice

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Adam FarronI'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:27:11 pm

I'm applying to film school once again, so for a reel, I'd love to do a few things in after effects. But my god.

I'm aggravated that there's SO MUCH you can do and literally zero explanation on where to go, what to do, what to make.. it's just frustrating I suppose. It's infinite possibilities, and out of those infinite possibilities, I don't know how to do a single thing beyond masking and simple overlays. I really want to know how to do advanced stuff, that I can apply to a variety of things, not just a tutorial that teaches me one effect. I don't know where to begin. I know the basics of after effects by now, but I still don't know how to apply any of the basics into making a thing, and I wonder how anyone figures this stuff out on their own. I just need some help. I'm not lazy, I don't expect to be handed magical skills, but I would like to know how to further my current knowledge.

Thanks guys :)

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Joseph W. BourkeRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:36:43 pm

Adam -

Here's a good place to start. We all hit the wall now and then, and viewing other artists' works is a good resource. The work is in figuring out how the artist accomplished the graphic design and animation:

If your knowledge of After Effects is really that minimal, you may just get further frustrated by watching these, and that means you have to go to square one, and any of the great Adobe tutorials:

Before you can learn the advanced stuff, you have to have a good grasp of the basics.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Chris WrightRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:21:52 pm
gives step by step instructions to creating final looks.

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Adam FarronRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:49:50 pm

I apologize for the double post, but I have found video copilot somewhat useful in making things that I can use to apply to my work.

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Claude RozsaRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:50:59 pm
Last Edited By Claude Rozsa on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:08:29 pm

Adam, I'm a beginner too, and not a student anymore (aged 74!lol) but I can thank creativecow and Andrew Davis in particular and the whole set of their videos available on youtube that made me able to do this although it's far from being perfect. Andrew is clear, easy to understand, no background music like so many do which makes me mad! It's just the beginning of my video on my trips to Pompei and Hecrulaneum. So I'm sure that you will do much better than I do and in the quickest of times. I began using AE and PrP cc2014 a year ago.

Here is the link; just exercise with them in their order and then try to make the same with one of your own ideas.

You must be patient, don't try do quicker than the music as we say in french!!!!
Good luck

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Dave LaRondeRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:08:57 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:17:55 pm

Maybe you know the basics, maybe you don't. I'm thinking you don't, which is REALLY cramping your style.

After 10 minutes of searching on the COW -- I had forgotten that the COW's searching capabilities really suck -- I found what I was looking for! It's Lesson One of Andrew Devis's EXCELLENT series on AE Basics:

There are more than 65 of these lessons, all in nicely-digestible lengths. Although a few years old, they're still applicable today. Two exceptions -- extrusions and previewing -- but if you don't have AE CC, you don't have to worry about them.

Todd Kopriva, Mr. After Effcts Himself at Adobe, once had a blog page with links to Andrew's AE Basics lessons because the COW doesn't organize things very well. Well, that page is gone. I'm mad. On Adobe's web site, they asked how I liked my experience. I ripped 'em a new one.

EDIT: HA! I found what I was looking for... on YouTube. Go to YouTube and use this search phrase: "Andrew Devis" AND "AE Basics". The quote marks are important.

They're not in numerical order, which stinks, but they're there.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Adam FarronRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:47:32 pm

I appreciate the help. I'm looking through a bunch of these and most of it I already know how to do. The most techniques I need help with are the things that aren't obvious.. Here's an example.

I watched a video today (Behind the scenes of this group RocketJump, I love them on youtube. Formerly Freddiew.)

They did a video where he was slicing fruit in slow motion with precision and all this neat stuff, and one thing that caught my eye, is in the behind the scenes, one shot in particular he said the fruit were CG as they were being cut open, the rest of the fruit were all hanging from strings. Here's what I questioned: How in the hell did you A: use cg fruit AND had them being sliced open. I understand you can import 3d models and what not into after effects, but how did they actually make the 3d model play into being cut open? Also, the fruit hanging from the strings had ZERO strings in the final cut, and I was questioning how did they edit the strings out in post. That's what intrigues me, and this is some of the depth I'm looking to get into. Here is the aforementioned video.

This stuff inspires me, I want to apply it to anything I'll make in the future. There's only so much I can do with a camera and zero effect knowledge. For instance: If I wanted to create an explosion behind someone, I would make an explosion effect in a comp, Pre comp it, film a shot of someone standing by the explosion, and film an identical shot (both on tripods) of no one in the shot so that I can put the explosion on that footage behind him and it won't overlay itself on top of the person in the shot. That's essentially the extent of my knowledge, effects, precomps, behind, on top, etc. The advanced stuff is what I'm looking for. For example: How to create a ball of energy in your hand, and to throw it and create an energy explosion, but to be able to use that tutorial and make the energy look vastly different so it can be applied in future projects. How to hold a 3d rendered object and throw it, because that can be applied in future projects. I hope this is all making sense. Hell, even one in that video that was confusing to me was him falling off of the building and landing on someone. I understand the concept of landing on someone from the air, that's not difficult, but the falling in the air off the building: now that is interesting to me on how to do. I need some pointers on where to begin in that aspect. My knowledge essentially ends in the basics around where he talks about shape layers and animating them etc. Although I am aware on how to do write on effects, even though they're a pain in the ass. I'm sorry for being so lengthy with this, but I'm hoping someone understands. Y'all are so helpful, I love you guys :)

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Micah ConradRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:11:31 am
Last Edited By Micah Conrad on Oct 7, 2015 at 6:39:18 am

Starting with the basics of working with 3D in After Effects is where you want to start, and then climb your way up from there. Baby steps ;)

Andrew Kramer has awesome tutorials on how to composite full 3D models on his website. Surfaced Studios (link below) has great intermediate and advanced tutorials on some 3D integration and overall After Effects compositing.

Really knowing your basics and having a strong foundation will help you tremendously.

And to answer your question about the strings attached to the fruit, they painted those out within After Effects. Also known as "wire removal".

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Ashish GuptaRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 7, 2015 at 6:21:06 am

Sounds like you are mainly interested in compositing. I would start by learning the basic concepts of compositing, For e.g. Green Screen, Matchmoving, Wire removal, Object cleanup, integration of cg objects in live footage.

Videocopilot is a good place to start. Have a look at this training as well, it explains the basic concepts involved and how to get things done:

You can create a sliced up fruit in the 3d software and then import and animate it being sliced up using element inside after effects.

Ashish Gupta
Motiongraphics artist and 3d generalist

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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 7, 2015 at 7:03:36 am

Learning the basics is necessary and as you can get from the other posts there are quite a few sources out there for tutorials. For the "advanced stuff" you need to experiment and learn by doing it. Spending time with an experienced VFX artist can offer some shortcuts - you can learn a lot by watching someone else and learn the way they think.
In building a vfx shot you can benefit a lot by doing extensive planning. Break down the shot in parts, storyboard the shot, think about transitions and then try to figure out how much can be done in production and how much in post. For example, if you want to create a energy ball in the hands of your actor, design the camera moves and make sure you have good tracking points for a virtual camera match move. Use small LED battery powered lights hidden inside the actor's hands to create light and shadows that would be impossible to put in post unless you build a good 3d model that matches the moves of your actor and comp that in. The more practical stuff you can do for your effects the more real they will seem. In this process a lot of testing is involved and a lot of research. Find shots in movies that are close to what you're trying to achieve, do a search to see if there are any materials regarding the production process for that shot.
Take one step at a time - baby steps like someone mentioned is the way to learn and get better at it.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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Claude RozsaRe: I'm frustrated and need advice
by on Oct 6, 2015 at 6:59:05 pm

Dave you could have spared a lot of time by reading my answer, I just put the link the playlist myself!LOL!

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