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View Full Version : How did you learn, really learn After Effects



drummer_shell
09-10-2013, 06:14 AM
I have got back into looking at After Effects.

Last time around 2 years ago I did all the Video Copilot basic and a lot of the more advanced tutorials, I don't remember a great deal apart from the real basics, the tools and parenting things to spinning objects etc.

I've now done the Essential training on Lynda.com and am working through the Meyer - Apprentice tutorials on Lynda.com

But my aim is how to learn After Effects, so that I can do all these cool things without needing to reference tutorials or forums.
Following tutorials is one thing, I can follow along and create things, and deviate a little from the tutorial and try a few different things, but I get the feeling that I wouldn't be able to do a lot with no internet or books to go to for help

So my question, is how do you learn it, really learn it??

Bruce Watson
09-10-2013, 06:48 AM
So my question, is how do you learn it, really learn it??

You know the answer already. You really learn something, anything, by using it. The more you use it, the better you get at using it. Reading about it will help, but the only way to truly learn it, is to use it.

drummer_shell
09-10-2013, 07:17 AM
so doing a tutorial, repeat it again and again. eventually needing to reference the tutorial less?

and i guess spend time trying to actually understand why they do it a certain way?

Bruce Watson
09-10-2013, 07:20 AM
so doing a tutorial, repeat it again and again. eventually needing to reference the tutorial less?

NO! Use the thing to do your own work! You don't learn to make pots by watching someone else make pots. You do it by getting your own hands dirty.

drummer_shell
09-10-2013, 08:25 AM
NO! Use the thing to do your own work! You don't learn to make pots by watching someone else make pots. You do it by getting your own hands dirty.

but you will learn to make pots by copying someone make pots, to understand the basics?
I always follow along the tutorials (and make a few changes), I don't just watch.

although i think we're saying the same thing, use a tutorial for a technique but apply to my own work, repeat and i'll gradually need to reference a tutorial or the web less...

David Jimerson
09-10-2013, 09:01 AM
No, drummer_shell, he's saying that you need to get your hands dirty with your own projects, decide what you want to do with them, and figure out how to do it in After Effects.

It seems like you asked a question to which you only wanted a particular answer.

Tutorials have their place, and yes, you want to learn the why behind the how. But, ultimately, you will learn After Effects most effectively by doing your own work in it.

Al MacLeod
09-10-2013, 09:09 AM
Drummer_shell, you have the right idea. The time honored apprentice system, watching the master at work, doing what he or she does and trying to duplicate it. The difficulty is there's a lot of stuff to get down pat to start to do what you want to do. Chin up...forward into the breach!

Bruce Watson
09-10-2013, 11:18 AM
although i think we're saying the same thing...

We are not.

Did you never learn to ride a bike?

drapeama
09-10-2013, 11:27 AM
You can always watch how others are doing some stuff, but it should be used only as inspiration. Once you know how a technique works for something, you can always adapt it to something else.
But the only solution is to play in it, trial and error. I don't push After Effects to it's limit, but I'm using it for many things, like end credits as it's way easier to add effects to the texts, add layers and control everything separately that I wouldn't bother doing it in a NLE software.
Use the right tool for the right job.

Paul F
09-10-2013, 12:44 PM
Copying a tutorial will not generate 'muscle memory'. You need to run your own project or exercise. This way, the methods will be embedded in your mind. Refer to the tutorials only to find out how techniques were done.

Make up an exercise that involves text, particle effects, and stabilization (or any 3 or 4 techniques). Don't copy anything from a tutorial. Make it unique. Then watch the tutorials and adapt each technique to your exercise.

Andrius Simutis
09-10-2013, 12:47 PM
David Jimerson is right. YOU need to do it. Think up a project and make it. Find a motion graphic you like and try to recreate it. After Effects can be tough, but once you've conquered a few problems on your own you'll start to really get an understanding of how it works. I've been using AE on and off for something like 15 years now and I'm still learning every time I use it.

drapeama
09-10-2013, 04:20 PM
After Effects can be tough, but once you've conquered a few problems on your own you'll start to really get an understanding of how it works.
With a minimum of tutorials on how to achieve some more specific stuff, you start from there and can apply & adapt these techniques to pretty much everything you need.

danjenkins
09-10-2013, 11:18 PM
Think of tutorials as a way to learn the technical side of AE. It's a very complex piece of software and there are at least a few ways of achieving a given effect. So yes, do tutorials (VideoCopilot's are wonderful) but then apply those technical skills to your own artistic creation. Watch some of FreddieW's videos for inspiration and try some of your own variations. When I was first learning I was constantly in my yard or driveway filming some sort of plate to use for a shot. Not everything you make needs a story at first, don't start by trying to make some sort of long form piece. Just make some simple shots to build your comfort level with the program and techniques. Then build from there.

greymog
09-11-2013, 01:13 AM
Animation. I would do it by hand, frame by frame. First thing I learned was image sequence. Then masks. Then I was hooked.

Andrius Simutis
09-11-2013, 10:53 AM
Layers. Keyframes. Masks.

That is the foundation of After Effects. Learn those, master those, then it all comes a lot easier.

drummer_shell
09-13-2013, 07:07 AM
thank you so much for responding, i'm sorry i haven't replied until now, i've been snowed under at work

Yesterday I started working on a real project at work. A little video that I'm using AE for. Now I've just this to get stuck into I am enjoying playing around, finding how to bring the ideas in my head to life. I'm using the idea from a tutorial I did, with the anchor points to pan through a massive panoramic still image. Fast pans, then drifting etc.

I then wanted to add lines that animated on, taking me from image to image (which i've layered on top of the main photo), so I found how to do that on a tutorial, messing with adding some masks too. Found an old tutorial I remembered, so I could get text to appear as from no where using a mask too

It was really useful to go through a bunch of tutorials for a couple of days though, to get the basics and to find some of the tools and cool effects that are there

If I am made redundant, which I was told on Monday is likely then at least I will use my time productively whilst searching for a new job - After Effects, After Effects, After Effects!

Thank you so much for the comments guys

Michael Carter
09-13-2013, 02:45 PM
I tell most people to get Mark Christensen's book for whatever version you're using. Really about the best "creative software" writer there is out there.

I watch lots and lots of tuts. I don't try to replicate them, but I take plenty of notes. Which I keep in a folder, and use my mac's search function on (this is a great way to get familiar with scripting, too).

I've fully storyboarded (in my head at least) more music videos than I can count. Why? Because so few of 'em come through, especially an effects-heavy idea. But... I'll think my way through an effect sequence that I'm psyched about, think about the plates, the stacking order, tracking, masking, lighting... what's practical, what's generated. If there are aspects of an idea I don't know how to do, I'll find those little bits in tutorials. if I'm bored, I'll do some tests. For every shot I've completed and delivered, there's 100 I've produced in my head or done little bits of.

That above paragraph? That's the way people who are sort of joyfully obsessed with something function. You're trying to sleep while thinking about tracking some idea, or how Particular might help. The next day, you're googling tutorials that may have 20 seconds that apply to what you've imagined. If you can keep yourself in the software often, and experiment, you'll learn. And man, I try to save a LOT of notes...

drummer_shell
09-16-2013, 03:45 AM
I tell most people to get Mark Christensen's book for whatever version you're using. Really about the best "creative software" writer there is out there.

That above paragraph? That's the way people who are sort of joyfully obsessed with something function. You're trying to sleep while thinking about tracking some idea, or how Particular might help. The next day, you're googling tutorials that may have 20 seconds that apply to what you've imagined. If you can keep yourself in the software often, and experiment, you'll learn. And man, I try to save a LOT of notes...

Man, I was dreaming I was compositing/animating the other night, literally I was keyframing in my sleep lol.
I will check out Christensen too :)

El Director
09-18-2013, 07:30 PM
My story:
http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2013/03/ae-el-director.html#more-3275 (http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2013/03/ae-el-director.html#more-3275)