On Wednesday morning, I was introduced into the wonderful world of Adobe After Effects – a piece of software that I never really saw myself using. It was clear after using it that it was to movies that which Photoshop is to images – my mind was buzzing.
Firstly we were introduced to the basic layout of the After Effects panes and general layout. Much like an In Design file, all images and videos must be ‘linked’ in the folder from which you are working on, it is dangerous working on images that are not in the folder that you’re working on – as After Effects is a lot less forgiving than In Design.
The project that you are currently working will eventually be made up of many different ‘compositions’, and when bought all together, these compositions will constitute the overall project. Much unlike any other Adobe package, After Effect file sizes will almost certainly be in the 100MB+ (maybe even bordering on 1GB).
The numbers on the Composition Window (0:00:03:00) relate to hours, minutes, seconds, and frames (not milliseconds like you would assume). To animate an image on screen, the Transform option must be expanded on the Composition Window; by clicking on the stopwatch you create a keyframe on the Timeline – and the difference between two keyframes is animated in the time period of the space on the Timeline between them.
Movies, of course, animate themselves, but the Transform tools can still be used to give the impression of panning, trucking and zooming. On top of animation, After Effects also gives the user the option to add effects to the current media; these effects range from blurs, to colour correction, to twirl effects, to even adding noise – much like its sister-software, Photoshop. Similarly to the Transform tools, these effects can also be animated with keyframes.
On the Effects Control pane, effects can be more easily manipulated and altered to suit the media’s needs. It is often easier to use this pane, as the Timeline can start to look very congested and messy if all of the options are expanded.
Playing with these effects can have pretty limitless results; on this example, Colour Correction, Fast Blur, Bulge, Magnify and Transform were used.
So, now you have manipulated your image and movies into a feature-length masterwork – what now? Well, your After Effects project file is pretty useless, unless the people that you want to show your film to also have After Effects. To beat this, you have to ‘render’ your video into a Quicktime Movie File! Then, your film can scale the walls of YouTube, Facebook – and who knows, maybe get a BAFTA or two.
Wait! Before you render, there are some key things that you NEED to keep in mind. Click on Composition>Make Movie, then check these things: Where are you outputting it? Is it using the correct Time Span (Render Settings)? Is it using the correct Frame Rate (Render Settings)? Is it using all the effects (Render Settings)? Will it be output with the correct compression settings (Output Module)? Will there be audio in the file (Audio Output)?
After Effects seems to be a really, really powerful tool that enables the user to produce anything that they need to through the media of Film. I can’t wait to get into it more, as some of the videos that I have seen that use After Effects are mind-blowing. Thanks for the tutorial Richard!