After Effects 101 Tutorial: Bringing the basics together

The basis of this tutorial is about taking a path from Photoshop (or Illustrator) and then using it within After Effects to create a simple animation background.

I’ve seen this a lot recently, so thought you might find it useful. The attached files are there with a little extra animation and a PDF to give you the essential instructions on how to make a path in Photoshop and animate it in After Effects.

The next version of After Effects will expand its shape capabilities dramatically, but even still, the tutorial here is an essential skill for After Effects users.

One last note – if you’re pulling these down, let me know if they’re useful or not. Also, feel free to ask for specifics.

Basic Elements Tutorial

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Getting into design? Be a reverse engineer

I’m a reverse engineer when it comes to design. There, I’ve admitted it. I can’t claim to be a fantastic designer, far from it. I’d call myself a functioning (or disfunctional) user. I’m not a super creative guy, though I’d like to be. This is probably why I get paid to show software rather than use it all the time.

When I see what real creative people can do with Adobe products like After Effects and the like, I can take one of two approaches. I can get depressed and think I can never be as good as them. Or, I admire what they’ve done and break the image or composition down to it’s elements and figure out how it was done.

Maybe you’re the fantastic designer or the one that will be with practice and application. If you’re not a design genius but still need to bring up your design chops, I’ve found that the second approach is a lot more fun, enabling and useful – go figure. It’s helped me to be more useful when I do get asked to do a design (friends, church, school, etc.) and also when customers come up to me and ask, “hey, how do you do XYZ?”

A lot of the simpler commercials and print ads can easily be broken down to a couple of elements – bits that you know you can do (or figure out). This is especially true as a lot of design has had a very simple asthetic following the simple design trend typified by Apple campaigns.

So, when you see that commercial, print ad or graphic, stop and figure out how it was done. You’ll be glad you did.

After Effects 101 Tutorial: conTEXTual Blur

Included in the download file is an After Effects Project file for AE7 and a .ffx file which is an animation preset with the right filters.

This file shows what can be done to text with the idea of using it as a motion graphics element. Turn on the CC Kaleida FX to see an even more extreme example.

conTEXTual Blur


After Effects users – remember your Cycore!

The most common issue I find from beginner to intermediate AE users is the fact that they haven’t installed everything that After Effects comes with. With AE 6.5 and 7.0, you have three distinct plugins that you should be installing into your system: Cycore Effects, Keylight and Color Finesse. For the beginner, Cycore is the most handy of the three because it’s a bunch of fun effects, many very useful, some not and some just eye catching.

It’s on the After Effects CD, just pop it in and click ‘install 3rd party plugins’.

After Effects 101 Tutorial: Text Begone!

Here’s an After Effects 7.0 project that is super basic and that will be the theme of some of my tutorials. You should be able to look at these project files and figure it out in a few seconds.

This one simply takes text and blows it up as a bunch of particles. Two layers, maybe ten seconds and you’ve got it!

Titles Begone

It’s out, it’s official – let’s talk

You might be saying, “Okay, finally!” and I would be agreeing with you. We’re all extremely excited about yesterday’s launch and the impact we hope it has on the creative public. Every person and part of Adobe feels like a proud mother with her newest baby which in this case is ‘babies’ as in 13 new products.

Some thoughts and questions:

– The new logos. Gone are the feather of Photoshop which we only had for two versions. Gone are the x-ray type logos of the video products. Everything has a two letter periodic-like abbreviation or rune for a logo. Initially, I was skeptical, but I kind of like it now. What are your thoughts?
– Press coverage. There’s a ton of it and most of it seems very positive. Wade into the sea of HTML, PDFs and print magazines to find the information you’re looking for…
– Master Collection. I’d like to call this the ‘all-you-can-eat’ version. If you’re a single person creative that spans print, web and video, we’ve got the product for you. I’m concerned that some people will buy this and think they can split it up, with web on one computer, print for my buddy and I’m on the video suite on a third computer. Nope. Two activations on two computers which is your standard license agreement. If I were a customer, I might be upset until I think about the price – $2495 is pretty aggressive for all of that product.
– more public betas. It seems that we announced that we would put more of the products on the Adobe Labs site as public betas. Premiere Pro and After Effects will be up around the NAB time frame. Soundbooth and Photoshop are already there.
– the event/webcast. I was actually one of the few Adobe employees that was allowed to be there and despite the technical glitch, it was a terrific event and a lot of fun for our customers and Adobe. Gina, Greg and Bob were all terrific in highlighting some of what makes CS3 go. The location was in NYC was of course, very NYC chic – white warehouse, spartan design and of course the obligatory bars in all locations…Maybe it was that cosomopolitan with the dry ice in the bottom that woke me up early this morning…
– old friends and new. Of course, this event wouldn’t be much without some friends and I saw some old friends and made new. Everyone there was excited and having a blast.

Some of the features that I like best weren’t shown on yesterday’s webcast. Let me run down a couple of them:

In Photoshop – the 3D integration in the Extended version is in my opinion going to change how design for 3D is done. We’re now allowing you to import 3DS, DXF and U3D models among others right into Photoshop so you can apply textures to the models without having to open up your 3D modeling program.

I also saw Russell Brown (A separate post on him in the future!) showing off the Photoshop animation palette. The guy was basically animating like AE in Photoshop! It was crazy, but very cool.

In After Effects – The Shape Layers feature is very, very, VERY practical in my opinion. For the entry level person, this will be a great tool for creating motion graphics designs and elements. Simple, easy, fast. That’s what all level of users need.

Brainstorm – Another innovative way to overcome ‘creatives block’. Select some parameters and let Brainstorm present you some variations on them for you. Very intuitive and visual.

In Encore – Take the same interactivity and output it as a SWF. Interactive web with video from a DVD authoring application…sweet. I also think Mac users who don’t need the scripting of DVD Studio Pro are going to find Encore on the Mac very appealing because of the Photoshop integration which is second to none.

In Premiere Pro – It’s back to the Mac. Let me say it again. It’s back on the Mac! We’re all thrilled to have it back and show Mac people what we can do with Dynamic Link, Clip Notes, color correction, etc…These are old features for PC people, but really new to the Mac community.

The time remapping you saw which is terrific, but I also like a couple of the simple things like flex bins which are allowing users to have multiple folders of media open in Premiere Pro at the same time. Also, the replace clip command which retains keyframes and effects but replaces the actual media.

Rather than go on and on, let me point you to the Adobe website and check out the individual product pages which have all been updated to reflect new versions with flash movies, pdfs, and resources to get you equipped. It all makes for a great Wednesday.

Today’s the day and it’s kuler to use kuler

Though there was some leaked information from Amazon Canada over the weekend, the CS3 launch event is happening today in NYC and being broadcast online, so be sure to tune in by clicking on the link below…

CS3 Launch

Also, the kuler application is just plain fun and if your a designer, just plain useful. We’ve added a Widget if you’re a Mac user. If you haven’t heard about what Kuler is yet, check it out by visiting.

On an unrelated note, I’m trying to work up some tutorials and more substantive articles, but with the biggest launch of creative software in a long time (some might say ever), you can imagine how busy it is over at Adobe.

Happy CS3 launch day,

‘Da Font!’ – great website for fonts and more

I stumbled across this when I needed some zapf dingbat symbols for a composition or a mask, or…well I don’t really remember right now… The point is that this website has some fantastic stylistic fonts that are groups by categories. Most of them are free. Most of them are Mac and PC. Nearly all of them I could imagine using – they’re quite good.

Sometimes inspiration can come from the littlest thing – maybe it’s a new font that inspires you today.

On the local (NYC) front –

If you’re around the NY area and crazy (or just enthusiastic) about After Effects, then come join us on 3/29 for the second meeting. AENY stands for After Effects New York and our first meeting had over 110 people join in.

We give away lots of prizes (and good ones too!) and there’s free food. I don’t think I need to add anything to that, except to say that March 29th will also have a special guest from Adobe showing off something very near and dear to our hearts.

Find out when and where by clicking on the meetings link on the website

March 27th – in case you haven’t heard

For a software company, we’re positively becoming blabbermouths. The Labs website for Adobe has been a real positive for the company and more importantly for our customers. Announcing and posting public betas of Photoshop CS3, Soundbooth, beta FlashPlayers, etc… Yesterday we’re talking up Apollo and now talking about a new webcast with the official launch of CS3. While this information and invitation has been out there for a while, I don’t know how many people have seen it – so enter the little blog that could and add to that list of people who have!

CS3 Launch Event

Labs website is here

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