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After Effects Tutorial: Basic Toolbox Series

After Effects can do just about anything – trust me, I’ve seen talented people do it.  However, for mere mortals like myself, I know that I have a few tools in my toolbox that I can use to create a variety of different looks from a simple animation. 

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t show the detail needed in animation so it’s up to you to download the project file and preview the quality that’s there.  Hopefully, the video isn’t so crappy that you can’t get the basic idea.

I’ve decided that this has the potential to be a series and so (hopefully!) this is the first of several offerings to give you the idea about specific filters and effects that you can use to create different motion backgrounds and animation elements.

The project file is pretty straightforward and I’ll let you dig into it. Given time (a most precious commodity right now!) I will try to write it all up since I haven’t done so in quite a while.  In the meantime, let me breakdown the seven animations included in this project.

  • Basic Toolbox #1: This is the basic animation and underscores how vast and cool Fractal Noise can be.  Repeat the mantra with me, "Fractal Noise is your friend!"  Very good.  You’ll also notice that the Find Edges filter can be used to great effect and moreover it highlights the idea that you can use a single effect more than once to get different results.  Tritone and Glow round out the list of indispensible filters that you should know about.  Please note that I applied a simple wiggle expression to the glow threshold to give it a undulating feel.
  • Variation #1: This just shows the same animation with a mask, illustrating the fact that you can take any motion background and populate other elements like a lower third or transitional wipe.
  • Variation #2: Mr. Mercury is just plain fun, which is why I did it. Gives it a liquid like look with shine and did I mention it’s fun?  I played with the parameters a bit (gravity and type) to give it a different look
  • Variation #3: CC Fast Blur… Gotta have it. Use just horizontal or vertical to create something neat.  Add Emboss to make moving brushed metal. A must have for any AE user.
  • Variation #4:  CC Kaleida.  Pretty straightforward right?
  • Variation #5:  Scatter gives you a pointalism look and I include it as something a bit different
  • Variation #6: Film strip is still a popular effect in the right place and so knowing when and how to apply the Motion Tile effect will allow you to make this a snap!

I whipped this up in less than an hour and it should illustrate the idea that all you need to be successful with After Effects is an imaginative mind and a little free time. 

One final note – if this is something you want to see more of, please comment and let me know. The goal of any blog like this is to provide information, content and tutorials that appeal to users.  If I’m missing the mark, please let me know!  So, take the hint, and please comment! ;-)

Here’s the project file: Basic Toolbox #1

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