I’m an author and motion graphic artist based in the UK (http://www.angietaylor.co.uk/). I studied Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art and then spent 15 years producing animation, visual effects, and motion graphics for television and film. I started out making props and models for TV and film. One day, I went into the VFX department at BBC to drop off some props and saw someone using Adobe Photoshop 1.0. I immediately wanted to find out more about digital technology. After playing around with tools such as Cubase, Deluxe Paint, and Corel Draw, I went to a party and met someone there who had a Mac. He worked for Adobe and told me if I bought myself a Mac he would help me buy Photoshop. He also told me that if I really wanted to animate I should check out Adobe After Effects.
After purchasing my first Mac and going back to school to learn more about Photoshop and graphic design, I tried After Effects 3.0 and fell in love with it. I spent six months learning the software using Total Training with Brian Maffit. I then began freelancing as a motion graphic designer. At the time, there weren’t many people in the UK using After Effects. I would go to production companies and tell them that I could do motion graphics with After Effects and they would laugh. Eventually, some clients gave me the opportunity to show what After Effects could do. It was great to be there at the beginning, when After Effects was first taking off in the UK broadcast industry.
Before I started working with After Effects I was unsatisfied with my career, I went from one job to another—prop making, DJ, cartoonist, etc. I would stick at a job for a couple of years, get bored, and then move onto the next. After Effects helped me not only focus on a career, it also gave me endless creative possibilities – now I’m never bored! I’m always excited when I open After Effects up to begin a new project, it’s very flexible creatively. It has a life of its own and conjures up ways of working you wouldn’t anticipate. I’m constantly surprised.
In addition to freelancing, I’ve worked regularly as a product specialist with Adobe showing software at trade shows and seminars including MacWorld, NAB, and IBC. I also started writing books and making training videos for After Effects, and that has become a big part of my professional life. I’ve written a number of books and produced tutorial videos about digital art, design, and animation. Sharing knowledge with other people is enormously rewarding. It has also helped me learn the software inside and out. Even though I enjoy the really technical features in After Effects, my favorites are still the workhorse features I use every day.
Keyframing in the timeline is definitely number one for me. It hasn’t changed since the first version, but it still gives so much flexibility. If you learn how to control keyframes in the timeline you can do anything; it’s the backbone of After Effects. I also love Expressions. In my opinion, After Effects 5.0 was the most groundbreaking version because it introduced Expressions, Parenting and 3D, which opened up revolutionary new ways of working. With Expressions, I like to connect properties together and allow one to control another. For example, you can have something that rotates and changes color simultaneously with one property reacting to another. You can do so much more than just keyframing, and you don’t have to animate everything individually.
There are also some more recent features I really like, such as the ability to convert vector art into shape layers and the ability to create real 3D extrusions with bevels, reflections, and transparency. Persistent Disk Caching has helped speed up my workflow tremendously and I do love to use the 3D camera tracker in my motion graphics work. I also love what can be done with scripting and have a huge amount of respect for the people who provide us with endless expansions to After Effects at AEscripts.com.
With the ongoing evolution of the product, it’s always great to see how professionals in the industry are breaking new ground when it comes to visual effects. Jayse Hansen’s recent screen design work for The Avengers is outstanding. Mark Coleran is another incredible screen designer who work can be seen in the blockbusters Mission Impossible 3 and The Bourne Ultimatum. And Dan Gies is an award-winning artist who creates the most amazing fully-rigged 3D puppet animations. I can’t wait to see what these guys come up with next!
As for me, I spent years working on projects for other people, so I’m now trying to find time for my own animation projects. I’m working closely with GenArts as a creative director and I’m cutting down the time I spend working with others to three days a week, leaving me two days to work on my own projects. I’m in the process of re-learning Cinema 4D and can’t wait to explore ways to integrated it with After Effects. I’m also very excited about Veejay technology. The Resolume software is very exciting as are technologies such as OSC and WebGL. My aim in 2013 is to get involved with creating effects and animations for live events – watch this space.
YouTube: Angie Taylor