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January 31, 2013 /Ae & Me /

Ae & Carey Dissmore

careyI’ve always thought it’s good to look back as long as you don’t get stuck in the past. But wow, After Effects is 20! If ever there’s a time to look back, I’d say this is it.

My first exposure to Ae was in 1993. I was 25 years old, freelancing as an editor on a gig within a large corporation. They had an impressive facility with studios, audio booths, and an “online” A/B roll editing suite driving Beta SP video decks, switcher, DVE, Chyron…the works. Computers certainly did not dominate video production back then, but there was one geeky guy in the department who had set up a Mac running CoSA After Effects in a corner of a back room used to store props and boxes. It sat next to an SGI Indigo that had been put out to pasture. He was working on an animated intro for the show I was hired to cut.

What was it like back then? Well, it was pretty cool but required a lot of patience. True computer and video convergence was still years away. We were working at 640×480, which was impossible to play out in real time, so we had to insert edit the animation to tape 1 frame at a time using a Diaquest Animaq. So you had the double whammy of huge render times and very long output jobs. Yet, through it all, I glimpsed the future, and I was very excited about it.

Not long after this, I began to save my pennies to acquire gear of my own, a piece at a time. Ae was near the top of my acquisition list right behind buying a Mac and extra RAM. I fired up my Global Village Teleport modem and dialed into AOL and found a place called the CoSA Café. It was there that I got acquainted with, and later became friends with folks like Brian Maffitt, Chris and Trish Meyer, Tim Sassoon, Rob Birnholz and many more.

This was an amazing time where a real pioneering spirit prevailed. We were blazing new trails in production, and the concept of the boutique post studio was born. The NLE revolution was in full swing, and Ae was at the heart of this.  A few years later a strong community of users had reached a critical mass point and from it, the IMUG (International Media Users Group) was born, along with our annual NAB event, the MediaMotion Ball. As founder of the IMUG, I count myself privileged to have been near the center of the birth of a community that took the whole idea of “keeping secrets” and tossed it aside, in the belief that helping one another and sharing our knowledge was the better path to success.

What has happened since then? Amazing, mind-blowing things have been created all along the way. Computers, drives, hardware and loads of software have come and gone…heck, I switched NLEs 3 or 4 times since then… but in all that change, two things have remained: After Effects and the community of loyal, demanding and passionate users. Also noteworthy is the entire plug-in industry that surrounds it. In many cases, these plug-in companies were founded by members of the very same passionate community of users. The team behind Ae—many of whom I am fortunate to count as friends today— really gets this, and has always gotten it. They have fostered and encouraged these relationships. As long as these relationships continue to thrive, Ae’s star will shine brightly.

Fast forward to 2013…and I’m still using After Effects every single day, and loving it. The MediaMotion Ball is has seen phenominal growth and success:  We’re about to have our 16th annual event! I have basically “grown up” using this app, and Ae has grown up right with me. I’ve even had the opportunity to teach Ae a few times at the film school level, and it is an amazing experience to introduce new students to the powers of Ae…but I’ve never given up on production as my day job, it’s just too much fun!

Looking back, I can’t think of a single tool that has had more impact on my career than After Effects. This single application’s influence on who I am, what I do, my present life, home, etc. are incalculable.

Happy Birthday After Effects!

Carey’s Blog:

MediaMotion Ball:

More info on story of the MediaMotion Ball can be found in this Toolfarm article:

Ae & Me