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February 7, 2013 /Ae & Me /

Ae & Terry Coolidge

Ae & Terry CoolidgeI enrolled as an Illustration student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in the early 90s specifically to pursue a career as a computer graphics artist. My primary interest was 3D animation, so I took as many Alias classes in the SGI lab as I could. Since I had room in my schedule for a few other computer classes, I signed up for Interactive Media Design with Lynda Weinman.

Lynda was a fantastic teacher which led me to look and see what else she taught. “Motion Graphics” sounded interesting since the course description mentioned “animation,” so I figured I would give it a try. I had never heard of CoSA After Effects, but Lynda’s course gave me a firm foundational understanding of the program. I enjoyed the class but soon returned to focusing on 3D thinking I wouldn’t be using After Effects again.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I had just finished my first significant 3D visualization project for Walt Disney Imagineering following a year of creating 3D environments for Disney Interactive. As I was listening to a fellow Imagineer describe what he wanted out of me by the end of the next month, I thought, “there’s no way I can pull this off in 3D in the amount of time I have.”

A computer lab at WDI had a copy of After Effects (now an Adobe product), and I convinced myself that I remembered enough from my class with Lynda at Art Center to jump in with both feet. I had a blast pushing what I could do with AE in a real-world project scenario, and I started to realize just how powerful a tool this really was. I was so grateful that I had taken that class!

The video I created for that second WDI project was quite different from what had originally been envisioned, but it was a huge success and was a highlight of a major presentation. Before long I was doing more and more with After Effects, eventually using it to create many animatics and all of the mock-up “out the window” footage for what would become the Mission: SPACE thrill ride attraction at EPCOT Center in Flordia. AE had become my primary tool as an Imagineer.

From Disney I moved on to Cyan to work on Myst-related video games as a 3D artist, but I still was called upon to utilize my AE skills working on a number of trailers and E3 demo videos. After five years of working as a game artist, I decided that I wanted to try working independently. My first step was acquiring my own copy of After Effects 5 off of eBay.

After nearly eight years of working as a freelance motion graphics artist, I can definitely say that After Effects has changed my life. This incredibly powerful software tool has made it possible for me to have a career that I could never have predicted. I love what I do, and I love spending my days learning and creating. After Effects is an amazing application that empowers me to execute just about anything that I can imagine. It truly is awesome to feel like you can do anything.

I look forward to seeing how After Effects continues to play a part in my career as we move forward together into the next 20 years.

Ae & Me