Adobe After Effects – Introduction

Today Peter introduced us to Adobe After Effects, with a brief tour around the user interface. It should be no surprise that I found a lot of elements similar to other Adobe products and automatically felt comfortable with the idea of compositions being built out of layers, along with applied filters.


Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Project Window – This is your asset management, anything you import into the project will appear here regardless of its currently being used in the composition.
  • Composition Window – Your active stage and your preview to how your work is currently looking. Similar to the stage in Animate/Flash.
  • Layers – Works the same as layering in all adobe products. Any assets you have active in the composition will be shown here with their layering order.
  • Timeline Controls – Self explanatory, your timeline. Shows the duration of each layer in the composition.

So we know where everything is, next step to create a new project! After this step Peter had some pre-made assets we had to import (File > Import) into the scene. Once in the project window these were all dragged to the layers box to make them active in the scene. The thing worth noting is that one of these assets was a Photoshop file, which still retain all their layer information in AE.

The assets provided to us were a video of dancers, some pre-animated audio wave effects and the already mentioned photoshop file which contained a backdrop and a text layer.

We were asked to duplicate the dancers layer for the purpose of adding effects to it. These were a radial blur and an exposure. Duplicating the layer also keeps a master copy of the asset, incase you make a mistake and need to re-use the original. Turning our focus to the text in our scene we were told to apply a zoom bubble effect and to take a lot at the timeline to find its keyframes. Here is what AE looked like by this stage.


Circles highlighting a clock to signify animation and keyframes (with easing)

Taking a closer at our text layer you can see a clock next to the effect, this signifies there is animation present on the asset. Moving over to the timeline there was originally two diamonds to show the beginning and end keyframes of the animation. The two symbols in the image show an ease in and ease out.

Keyframe animation types.

Linear and Easing in the above diagram are more types of tween. Linear is what it says on the tin, no change in its motion from beginning to end (object moves from A to B at the same speed until it reaches its destination then comes to a dead stop). Easing slows down the animation at either end, gradually speeding up and then slowing down (more useful for natural movement). Constant won’t really be used in these instances and is there to demonstrate how frames work in a more traditional context of claymation or cell animation. One frame is displayed, this is then changed for a different frame etc.

After rendering out the scene, here is the link to the rather unflattering result.


While not the most ground breaking work this exercise has at least gotten me comfortable with the interface in After Effects which will help going forward to more advanced projects.



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