Learning Adobe AfterEffects

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After Effects Tutorial Websites

Video Copilot - video tutorials.

Creative COW

After Effect Scripts

After Effects Reference on Adobe.com

Adobe After Effects CS6 - Classroom in a Book Notes


Intro - Storyboards and Scripts

Before you begin shooting footage or creating animations it is often best to start by planning your movie with storyboards and a script (screenplay).

You can use Adobe Story to collaboratively write and manage screenplays. Adobe Story also converts information from a screenplay into XMP metadata that can automate the creation of shooting scripts, lists and more.

Acquiring, choosing, and preparing footage

  • Often its best to prepare footage before importing it into After Effects.
  • For example, if you want an image to fill your composition frame, configure the image in Adobe Photoshop so that the image size and pixel aspect ratio match the composition size and pixel aspect ratio. If the image is too large when you import it into After Effects, you'll increase the memory and processor requirements of the compositions that use it. If the image is too small, you'll lose image quality when you scale it to the desired size.
  • If you can shoot footage with consistent lighting and colors -- and otherwise prevent the need to do a lot of tedious utility work in post-production then you'll have more time for creative work.
  • If possible, use uncompressed footage or footage encoded with lossless compression. Certain kinds of compression - such as the compression used in DV encoding - are especially bad for color keying, because they discard the subtle differences in color that you depend on for good green screen keying. It's often best to wait until the final rendering phase to use compression other than lossless compression.
  • If you know that you want to animate using motion tracking, consider shooting your scene in a manner that optimizes for motion tracking.
  • Shooting in a high-definition format is useful even for standard-definition delivery (CAT TV uses 480i - Standard Definition), because the extra pixels give you a lot of room for synthetic camera work, such as zooms and pans in post.
  • It's best to store footage in the same folder as the project file or in another folder within that folder.


  • Whether you use Adobe After Effects to animate a simple title, create complex motion graphics, or composite realistic visual effects, you generally follow the same basic workflow, though you may repeat or skip some steps. For example, you may repeat the cycle of modifying layer properties, animating, and previewing until everything looks right. You may skip the step of importing footage if you intend to create graphical elements entirely in After Effects.


  • After you create a project, import your footage into the project in the Project panel. After Effects automatically interprets many common media formats, but you can also specify how you want After Effects to interpret attributes such as frame rate and pixel aspect ratio. You can view each item in a Footage panel and set its start and end times to fit your composition.


  • Create one or more compositions. Any footage item can be the source for one or more layers in a composition. You can arrange the layers spatially in the Composition panel or arrange them in time using the Timeline panel. You can stack layers in two dimensions or arrange the in three dimensions. You can use masks, blending modes, and keying tools to composite (combine) the image of multiple layers. You can even use shape layers, text layers, and paint tools to create your own visual elements.


  • You can modify any property of a layer, such as size position and opacity. You can make any combination of layer properties change over time, using keyframes and expressions. Use motion tracking to stabilize motion or to animate one layer so that it follows the motion in another layer.


  • You can add any combination of effects to alter the appearance or sound of a layer, and even generate visual elements from scratch. You can apply any of the hundreds of effects, animation presets and layer styles. You can even create and save your own animation presets. You can animate effect properties, too, which are simply layer properties within an effect property group.


  • Previewing compositions on your computer is fast and convenient, even for complex projects. You can change the speed and quality of previews by specifying their resolution and frame rate, and by limiting the area and duration of the composition that you preview.


  • Add one or more compositions to the render queue to render them at the quality settings you choose and to create movies in the formats that you specify.

Working with Adobe Bridge and After Effects

  • Adobe Bridge is the control center for Adobe CS software. Use Adobe Bridge to browse for project templates and animation presets; run cross-product workflow automation scripts; view and manage files and folders; organize your files by assigning keywords, labels, and ratings to them; search for files and folders; and view, edit and add metadata.

-To open Adobe Bridge from After Effects choose File > Browse in Bridge.
-To reveal a file in Adobe Bridge, select a file in the Project panel and choose File > Reveal in Bridge
-To use Adobe Bridge to open template projects, choose File > Browser Template Projects
-To use Adobe Bridge to browse for animation presets, choose Animation > Browse Presets.

Working with Photoshop and After Effects

If you use Photoshop to create still images, you can use After Effects to bring those still images together and make them move and change. In After Effects, you can animate an entire Photoshop image or any of its layers. You can even animate individual properties of Photoshop images, such as the property of a layer style. If you use After Effects to create movies, you can use Photoshop to refine the individual frames of those movies.
Comparative advantages for specific tasks

  • The strengths of After Effects are in its animation and automation features. This means that After Effects excels at tasks that can be automated from one frame to another. For example, you can use the motion tracking features of After Effects to track the motion of a microphone boom, and then automatically apply that same motion to a stroke made with the Clone Stamp tool. In this manner, you can remove the microphone from every frame of a shot, without having to paint the microphone out by hand on each frame.
  • In contrast, Photoshop has excellent tools for painting and drawing.
  • Deciding which applications to use for painting depends on the task. Paint strokes in Photoshop directly affect the pixels of the layer. Paint strokes in After Effects are elements of an effect, each of which can be turned on or off or modified at any time. If you want to have complete control of each paint stroke after you've applied it, or you want to animate the paint strokes themselves, use the After Effects paint tools. If the purpose of applying a paint stroke is to permanently modify a still image, use the Photoshop paint tools. If you are applying several paint strokes by hand to get rid of dust, consider using the Photoshop paint tools.
  • The animation and video features in Photoshop Extended include simple keyframe-based animation. After Effects uses a similar interface, though the breadth and flexibility of its animation features are far greater.

3D objects, 3D models and 3D images

  • In general, After Effects 3D functionality is limited to the manipulation of two-dimensional layers in three dimensions. Photoshop, however, can manipulate complete 3D models and output two-dimensional composites and cross sections of these 3D models from any angle.

Exchanging still images

  • After Effects can import and export still images in many formats, but you will usually want to use the native PSD format when transferring individual frames or stills between After Effects and Photoshop.
  • When importing or exporting a PSD file, After Effects can preserve individual layers, masks, layer styles and most other attributes. When you import a PSD file into After Effects, you can choose whether to import it as a flattened image or as a composition with its layers separate and intact.
  • It is often better for you to do something once to a source image in Photoshop than to have After Effects perform the same operation many times per second as it renders each frame for the previews or final output.


  • After Effects works internally with colors in a RGB color space. Though After Effects can convert CMYK images to RGB you should do video and animation work in Photoshop in RGB.

Working with Flash and After Effects

  • A composition in After Effects is like a movie clip in Flash Professional.
  • The composition frame in the Composition panel is like the Stage in Flash Professional.
  • The Project panel in After Effects is like the Library panel in Flash Professional.
  • Project files in After Effects are like FLA files in Flash Professional
  • After Effects includes a larger set of effects, while the Flash ActionScript language is the more robust of the two scripting environments.
  • Both applications allow you to place graphics on separate layers for compositing. These layers can be turned on and off as needed. Both also allow you to apply effects to the contents of individual layers.
  • Because all drawing and painting in After Effects is done on layers separate from any imported video, it is always non-destructive. Flash has both destructive and non destructive drawing modes.
  • To edit you After Effects content further in Flash, export a composition as an XFL file. An XFL file is a type of Flash file that stores the same information as a FLA file, but in XML format. When you export a composition from After Effects as XFL for use in Flash, it unpacks the XFL file and adds the assets from the file to your FLA file according to the instructions in the XFL file.
  • Flash has a unique set of vector art tools that make it useful for a variety of drawing tasks not possible in After Effects or Adobe Illustrator. You can import SWF files into After Effects to composite them with other video or render than as video with additional creative effects. Interactive content and scripted animation are not retained. Animation defined by keyframes is retained.

Working with Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects

  • Adobe Premiere Pro is designed to capture, import and edit movies. After Effects is designed to create motion graphics, apply visual effects, composite visual elements, perform color correction, and perform other post production tasks for movies.
  • You can easily exchange projects, compositions, sequences, tracks and layers between After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro


Please resume study @ http://help.adobe.com/archive/en/after-effects/cs6/after_effects_reference.pdf

Composition Basics

A composition is the framework for a movie. Each composition has its own timeline. A typical composition includes multiple layers that represent components such as video and audio footage items, animated text and vector graphics, still images, and lights. You add a footage item to a composition by creating a layer for which the footage item is the source. You then arrange layers within a composition in space and time, and composite using transparency features to determine which parts of underlying layers show through the layers stacked on top of them. (See Layers and properties and Transparency and compositing.)

Each composition has an entry in the Project panel. Double-click a composition entry in the Project panel to open the composition in its own Timeline panel. To select a composition in the Project panel, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) in the Composition panel or Timeline panel for the composition and choose Reveal Composition In Project from the context menu.

When working with a complex project, you may find it easiest to organize the project by nesting compositions—putting one or more compositions into another composition. You can create a composition from any number of layers by precomposing them. If you are finished modifying some layers of your composition, you can precompose those layers and then pre-render the precomposition, replacing it with a rendered movie. (See Precomposing, nesting, and pre-rendering.)

You can change composition settings at any time. However, it’s best to specify settings such as frame aspect ratio and frame size when you create the composition, with your final output in mind. Because After Effects bases certain calculations on these composition settings, changing them late in your workflow can affect your final output.

After Effects imports camera data from Maya project files. Before importing Maya camera information, you need to bake it. Baking camera data makes animating with keyframes easier later in your project. Baking places a keyframe at each frame of the animation. You can have 0, 1, or a fixed number of keyframes for each camera or transform property. For example, if a property is not animated in Maya, either no keyframes are set for this property or one keyframe is set at the start of the animation. If a property has more than one keyframe, it must have the same number as all of the other animation properties with more than one keyframe. Reduce import time by creating or saving the simplest Maya file possible. In Maya, reduce keyframes by deleting static channels before baking, and save a version of the Maya project that contains the camera animation only.

Layers and Properties

Layers are the elements that make up a composition. Without layers, a composition is only an empty frame. Use as many layers as necessary to create your composition. Some compositions contain thousands of layers, whereas some compositions contain only one layer.

Layers in After Effects are similar to tracks in Adobe Premiere Pro. The primary difference is that each After Effects layer can have no more than one footage item as its source, whereas a Premiere Pro track typically contains multiple clips. Layers in After Effects are also similar to layers in Photoshop, though the interface for working with layers differs. Working with layers in the Timeline panel in After Effects is similar to working with layers in the Layers panel in Photoshop.

You can create several kinds of layers:

  • Video and audio layers that are based on footage items that you import, such as still images, movies, and audio tracks
  • Layers that you create within After Effects to perform special functions, such as cameras, lights, adjustment layers, and null objects
  • Solid-color layers that are based on solid-color footage items that you create within After Effects
  • Synthetic layers that hold visual elements that you create within After Effects, such as shape layers and text layers
  • Precomposition layers, which use compositions as their source footage items

When you modify a layer, you do not affect its source footage item. You can use the same footage item as the source for more than one layer and use the footage differently in each instance. (See Importing and interpreting footage items.) Changes made to one layer do not affect other layers, unless you specifically link the layers. For example, you can move, rotate, and draw masks for one layer without disturbing any other layers in the composition.

Adjustment layers

When you apply an effect to a layer, the effect applies only to that layer and no others. However, an effect can exist independently if you create an adjustment layer for it. Any effects applied to an adjustment layer affect all layers below it in the layer stacking order. An adjustment layer at the bottom of the layer stacking order has no visible result.


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