After Effects Tutorials...
Just a comment that isn't ment to piss anyone off, but so many of the "After Effects" tutorials start with "ok, lets get started making our image in Photoshop..." I don't use Photoshop. I came to After Effects from a video background, first learning Premiere and then getting into motion graphics with After Effects. Photoshop is a deep program, and its one that I've had a hard time trying to learn that its really put me off. I just think it would be nice to see more tutorials that talk about After Effects and not another program that gets the ball rolling before After Effects comes into the picture.
My hats off to guys like Andrew Kramer who not only does complete After Effects tutorials, but actually came out with an outstanding motion background series that is 100% done in AFter Effects, allowing the user to customize the backgrounds to need and taste.
If I was going to write a tutorial on how to create a 3D logo sequence in After Effects, opening with "ok, first lets make a 3D logo in Animation Master..." would kind of defeat the purpose. I really appreciate the effort that people go to making tutorials, and its great that they are offered here for free. I just wish that a few more were dedicated to After Effects as a whole, and not so reliant on creating something in Photoshop first. There isn't time in life to learn every program out there... I'm sure some people have felt the same, but who knows.
Good post. Your thoughts and concerns are mucho appreciated as I do recall tuts here that refer to PS when the same result can be achieved in AE.
Having said that, AE is a rather deep application, much deeper than PS and perhaps even 3D applications - depending on how you're going to use AE.
But let's not forget what AE really is - a compositing application. It is the end all to most everything. IOW, on many occasions, work has to begin somewhere else before one even starts AE. That's a fact of life/AE.
If you were getting into visual effects, production would inevitably form a large part of any tutorial - for it to be a full-fledged tutorial. If you were working in a 3D application, chances are huge that you may have to create textures and vector outlines in another application.
For AE, PS is an indispensable tool. Think of AE as your fork and PS as your knife. There are times when you can slice a fish steak or have most meals with just a fork. And then there are times when there's a juicy, 2-inch thinck tenderloin that requires both the fork and a knife.
So, don't just hate the fact that there are AE tutorials here that require PS. Just accept the fact that its a juicy tenderloin, medium-well please, that's awaiting your response.
I strongly suggest that you sign up for a course, online, in-class, or disc-based to get you going with PS. You really don't need to get too deep into PS to do most of the stuff that we do. And you really do want to get into PS if you're going to want to work with a compositing application. I suggest that if AE had just the necessary tools that PS has for us to do our work entirely within AE, that you wouldn't be writing this post- much appreciated as it is.
And let's not even get into Illustrator. ;-) Take care and it's never too late to learn new stuff. You'll be so much more efficient and you'll find your work even more rewarding.
If you have any specific Qs regarding an AE tutorial here that uses PS and you are curious to know if AE can perform the same task (or even better or NOT at all), then by all means let us know. That's what we're here for.
customizable animated backdrops with Adobe After Effects project files
I used to have the same beef with Photoshop when I worked in broadcast (this was LONG ago). Then we went non-linear and I feel in love with PS. I can't imagine video without it. It's not an unfair assumption, that if you have a $1100 program like AE, that you've got Photoshop (or elements) too.
Then I didn't care to include Illustrator. But as my AE skills slowly improve, slightly faster than the growth rate of my fingernails, I've come around. I purchased Illustrator last night.
One other thing to consider (before you go buy Photoshop, please!) is that many of these tutorials were written prior to AE6. It's changed a lot since version 5, most notably in the text tool. I've seen plenty of tutorials where you basically have to take your own liberties to skip steps that have become unnecessary with recent versions of After Effects.
(I heart Photoshop)
You can't expect to even begin to tap AE's potential without knowing the compulsory applications as well, i.e. PS, Illustrator.
It's kind of like a painter getting frustrated with the fact that you should know how to mix your paint.
PS isn't even remotely as complex as AE and if you're already working with it, I think you'll find PS pretty basic in comparison. Total Training has a great DVD on Pshop that will get you up and running pretty quickly. I went through their AE series and can't tell you how much it's helped. Definately worth the investment.
Good luck and check out the TT dvd.
Some more belated thoughts...I do agree that while you can create motion-gfx soley w/AE and video, your creative options expand GREATLY by having paint and ilustration programs at your command. Besides PS, there are other programs like Real Draw, Painter, Paint Shop Pro, etc, on the raster side and Illustrator, Freehand or Expression on the vector side, that might be a more natural fit for you. Most can be reviwed for 30 days for free etc. and give you a good feel for what they do. While Adobe programs have added abilities to interact with eachother, the primary needs for AE are to be able to save your grafx file in a format AE understands, (and it understands a lot of them), and that you can save it with an alpha channel for compositing. Along with the Total Training and other training materials is a book that I believe has been reviewd here at the Cow, Photoshop for Non-Linear Editors by Harrington. I have not read it but it might be more to point for someone like you. Also, as a final thought, have fun, screw around with whatever art creation tool(s) you decide you like. Sometimes, being silly slides your brain around those mental blocks.
One more thought to the mix....
I often find the AE tutorials that say "then apply Tinderbox filter such-and-such" to be similarly frustrating. While I'm sure those extra plug-ins are awesome (I have a few plugs that I use all the time), it's a little disappointing to be reading a tutorial that requires them.
That said, I still read the tutorial and see if I can figure a way to do the same thing without the extra plugs.
You can often do everything you might do in Photoshop within AE, but sometimes it's just so much faster to do it in Photoshop. Same thing is true of these external plugs.
I agree with the above posts that learning Photoshop would be a great boon to you as a motion graphic person, but you absolutely don't have to. It just makes life a lot easier.
By the way: yours was a well written post that brought up something without raising ire of the folks who love Photoshop.