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Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?

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Chris DavisBeginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 6, 2010 at 9:10:04 pm

Hello,

I realize most AE users are also graphics pros, and probably already know Photoshop well but...

I'm a hobbyist wondering if I can learn AE without first learning Photoshop well.

I keep meaning to watch the 50 hours of "One on One" tutorials on Photoshop in Lynda.com by Deke McClelland, but I just can't seem to get interested in heavy manipulation of the still image (beyond basic exposure techniques available in Camera RAW and a few other basic tricks). Video's my thing.

Would it be easier to learn AE if I knew Photoshop first?

Many Thanks,
Chris


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Daniel Coutinho FerreiraRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 6, 2010 at 10:30:48 pm

In my opinion it would surely be easier to learn AE if you knew PS first.
There are some concepts like Layers, Masks, Alpha Channel, Adjustment Layers, and so on that are very similar between the two Programs.
You don't have to be an expert in "heavy image manipulation", but you'll notice that AE walks a lot together with PS (even the communication between both is very good, and sometimes doing something in PS and exporting to AE is much easier than trying to do inside AE), and it's better to know them both, if even if you're just into video stuff.

Have fun!

http://cargocollective.com/danielcoutinho


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David JohnsonRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 6, 2010 at 10:47:30 pm

Just to offer you a second opinion, I agree 110% with everything Daniel said. Yes, you certainly can learn AE without learning Photoshop, but knowing at least the basics of Photoshop will definitely make your life in AE a lot easier ... you don't necessarily need to master Photoshop though.

In addition to all the crossover, Photoshop also serves as a good stop-gap ... meaning, if you find that you're really struggling with Photoshop, you might reconsider whether AE is really for you since it's a much deeper and more complex program than Photoshop, although that's not to say you couldn't learn to do some basic stuff without ever touching the more advanced features.

Personally, I couldn't imagine working in AE without knowing and using Photoshop to some degree with almost every AE project. However, that's probably largely because I started using both well before there was the degree of redundant capabilities between the two that there is today ... in other words, many of the things you use to have to do in Photoshop (or Illustrator, for that matter) to bring into AE, can now be done directly in AE.


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Bill KellyRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 7, 2010 at 12:56:43 am

You're probably better off knowing some simple basics in PS before you start AE, but if you apply yourself and just straight to AE you should be able to get it.

You could check out Videocopilot's AE Basic Training (it's free!) at http://videocopilot.net/basic and see if it makes any sense after you go through it. If it does make some sense, then you're probably all right.

I work in AE a lot and only grudgingly go over to PS when I absolutely need to. If fact, a lot of times if I need to make or manipulate a still image, I'll do it in After Effects and export a still .psd file from AE. Just easier for me, although other people's mileage may vary.



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adam taylorRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 7, 2010 at 2:25:11 am

and don't forget video is really just a collection of still images viewed quickly.

To become a fully able motion designer, then you need to have an armoury of techniques and skills that you will certainly not get just from learning a single application.

50 hours sounds a lot, but most lessons on Lynda.com are only around 10mins duration...so watch one a day whilst eating your lunch. You'll soon have those hours run through and have a wealth of extra knowledge ready to inform your motion ideas.

You may not need to use PS very often, but many of the techniques employed within the discipline apply to both still and moving images.

let me throw a question back at you....which is... better a flat head or cross head screwdriver?
Cross heads are really my thing, but i've heard flatheads are still in use as well....damn...which should i get?

adam

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk


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Chris DavisRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 7, 2010 at 10:21:14 pm

Daniel, David, and Adam,

Looks like it’s Photoshop first. No big deal. I realize AE is Huge, and I would like to really understand it. My remaining question is,

How well do I need to know Photoshop before learning AE?

I can easily watch 50 hours of video. Following along with and doing the exercises is another step, and remembering WTF I did seems to require using the program at least once a week (or more).

(At least that’s my experience with learning FCP6, which took 30+ hrs. of lynda.com tutorials and the Level 1 & 2 Final Cut Pro Training Series books to get a feel for. I love the program, but a bit clunky for compositing, etc...).

[Bill Kelly]
"You're probably better off knowing some simple basics in PS before you start AE, but if you apply yourself and just straight to AE you should be able to get it... I work in AE a lot and only grudgingly go over to PS when I absolutely need to. If fact, a lot of times if I need to make or manipulate a still image, I'll do it in After Effects and export a still .psd file from AE. Just easier for me, although other people's mileage may vary..."

Looks like you're the minority opinion here, with the viewpoint I'm looking for. ;)

"You could check out Videocopilot's AE Basic Training (it's free!) at http://videocopilot.net/basic and see if it makes any sense after you go through it..."

I looked through a couple of these. It seems similar to the Chad Perkins lynda.com tutorials. It makes sense, for the most part, but it's a different level of understanding once I start following along with AE (which I did not), and remembering all the necessary shortcuts...


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David JohnsonRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 8, 2010 at 12:35:00 am

I understand why you'd consider Bill's view to be the minority based on things Daniel and I said, but I'm not sure that's a good leap to make and here's why ...

AE is a very deep program that does very many different things. Although I use AE for a wide range of those things, a large percentage of my AE work includes some degree of motion graphics for which Photoshop & Illustrator are often helpful or even necessary. Many editors may do very little mograph work and have entirely different needs so they may use AE only for compositing, keying, rotoscoping, color correction, etc., which often require no Photoshop work at all.

Similary, the reason I mentioned that I've been using both before there was so much redundancy is that different people just have different approaches ... mine are at least partially based on having gotten use to doing things certain ways because I had no choice for a long time, but now, many things we all use to have to do in PS or AI, can be done directly in AE. So, people who started using AE a little later or just learned different methods may have different perspectives.

[Chris Davis] "How well do I need to know Photoshop before learning AE?"

Very much related to the things above, it depends a lot on the types of things you plan to do. Generally speaking, you only need basic familiarity with Photoshop (or After Effects, for that matter) to get started and can learn what you need as you go. Both are deep programs that not only do many different things, but also offer many ways to do the same things. So, you shouldn't feel that you have to spend countless hours learning every nuance from the ground up.

Also, with your end goal being AE, it'll be important to have at least a fairly good foundation in general video in addition to any software-specific learning. For example, without enough knowledge of codecs, aspect ratios, etc., you'll likely spend a lot more time than necessary trying to work in AE and trying to figure out how to resolve avoidable issues.

[Chris Davis] "I love the program, but a bit clunky for compositing, etc."

I too find FCP clunky for compositing, etc. and I think most editors would agree. The reason is simple ... it's not a compositing program ... it's an NLE that has some basic compositing features as a convenience. The same reason audio editing is clunky in AE and it would also be very tough to master a broadcast tape directly from AE.

Perhaps it'll help to think about how the industry evolved ... originally (and the higher end still works this way to some degree), video editors, motion graphics designers, colorists, compositors, audio editors, etc. were all different people doing more specific jobs. It's only the advancement and combining of related technologies in combination with the growing need to do everything faster and cheaper that created so much overlap.


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Bret WilliamsRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 8, 2010 at 5:00:04 am

Alright, I'm going to chime in. Learn Photoshop first and keep learning it for the rest of your life. You can make a living at good AE work along with video editing. But PS is something you can use every day. You can help out friends with photos for their families. You'll use it for video without using AE. For example you can do a lot of the stuff you would do IN AE with a copy of photoshop and a nonlinear editor like FCP. Bring in the layers, animate them on the quick. No need to render out a intermediary animation. Sometimes, AE is just too much setup and render, etc. and with a client sitting there, the trial and error of trying to make cool stuff is a bit more stressful. And in corporate video, many of my clients know photoshop and will bring something and say move that around, or make it cool, or key it, etc.

So, as an EDITOR, Photoshop is a much more standard tool that you'd be expected to use. As a motion graphics artist in AE, you'd definitely be required to have a pretty darn good working knowledge of it as many projects will start there or even be handed to you in that fashion. You'll have to tweak things in PS that are quicker to do in PS and that will be a vital thing to know. I mean, if part of a freeze needs to be adjusted or erased or cleaned up, then PS would be the tool. If you felt more comfortable doing it in AE, then you'd probably be wasting someone's time.

They're both beasts. And PS in some ways is deeper than AE and vice versa. I'd learn them both at relatively the same time. Do a few tutorials in PS and learn the basics of type, layer effects, adjustment layers, etc for interaction with AE. Also learn the basics of cutting out mattes and making alphas and paths. The clone tool and the healing brush tool are stuff you'll use the rest of your life even just to clean zits off your face for your facebook profile photo. :)


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Dave LaRondeRe: Beginner: Do I need to know Photoshop to learn AE?
by on Feb 8, 2010 at 3:12:15 pm

[Chris Davis] "...wondering if I can learn AE without first learning Photoshop well."

Yes. I don't know Photoshop very well at all. Just the most basic, no-brainer, fundamental stuff. I've done okay with AE despite that.

Now, I will say this -- there are a TON of creative ways to use AE that I never even consider because of my lack of Photoshop knowledge. To me, that is the down side to not knowing Photoshop.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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