After watching the new movie, "Monsters", I'm convinced that I need to learn special effects. Where do I begin? Is AE what I need? I currently use Sony Vegas for editing, will AE work well with Vegas or will I be better off switching to Premier as my editing software? Thoughts, advice??
I love AE! I'm not sure if the big Hollywood studios use it for the big movie stuff but I see tons of commercials and TV shows that use it. After awhile you can recognize a technique or plugin. Just yesterday I saw Zaxwerks 3D flag used in a commercial. So, what I'm saying is get started with AE today - from there, see where you go!
It really depends on the kind of special effects work you want to get involved in. AE is a great compositing tool and can be used for rotoscoping, keying, some motion tracking, color correction, object removal, particle effects, and much more. However, you can't use it to create 3d creatures. You would create those in a 3d program, then use AE to add the dust where their feet fall, composite them into the scene, etc.
Here are some tutorials that use AE in conjuction with a 3d program to create a special effect:
That should give you an idea of how AE can be used in a visual effects workflow.
I know people who use Vegas for audio work, Premiere for editing, and After Effects for compositing. I love the integration between AE and Premiere and I love the new Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere. So I would suggest learning Premiere as well, if you want to use AE.