Learning After Effects Fundamentals

After Effects



1. Design ideas and design process

Having used After Effects very little before this task (under 2 hours), I wanted to make sure my design ideas covered a wide range of skills and complexity. I needed to develop my software skills in After Effects so that I could better understand the programme. My first design idea was a simple fade from black to orange, and I experimented with some basic text animation.

My second design idea was much more refined, making use of more intricate features such as layer mask and smart animating the text to create a custom effect.

My third design idea was based upon my experiences from existing media. I remember seeing an advert on YouTube for a speed reader that had words flashing in the same place. I liked the effect it caused, it was memorable and got the message out very quickly, in an understandable manner for any audiences.

I think my most effective idea was the second idea, although I liked the third one the most because I made it without a tutorial, which meant it was rewarding when I encountered problems and solved them. Design idea 2 made use of some more intricate features of Adobe After Effects, such as utilising layer masks and animating objects. The design featured the title of the podcast, ‘Type Talk’, and from behind that the words ‘a podcast’ emerged. The tutorial I followed for design idea 2 taught me how to use layer masks to create layering effects in After Effects, encouraging me to play with the settings when animating with the mask applied. I considered the use of colour in my design, with the title being more dominant as white, and the extra info being dark grey. This created an interesting composition because the focus of the gif is on the moving object, however the colour hierarchy suggests that the focus should be given to the title, which was not animated.

I began the process by making shape layers and adding text [fig 1 & 2]. I needed to get all the design elements on the page before I could start animating. I added the line in the middle as a shape, and the text where I wanted their final positions to be. I followed a tutorial explaining how to set up and use layer masks and the track matte feature [fig 3 & 4]. This allowed me to use the animation features [fig 5], hiding the secondary text behind the primary text, creating the effect of the secondary text sliding out from the white line in the middle [fig 6].


Creating a shape layer [fig 1]
Editing text in the character panel [fig 2]
Creating a layer mask [fig 3]
Using the track matte feature [fig 4]
Using the animation features [fig 5]
Using layer masks to hide the secondary text [fig 6]

2. Software tutorials

I primarily used software tutorials to develop my technical ability. I had minimal experience of Adobe After Effects before this task, so I used tutorials to speed up my learning curve. In the first design that I created, I used the fade tutorial to show me the basics of adding effects to objects and how to make two effects run simultaneously. (After Effects CC : How to Fade in and Fade Out) This tutorial helped me understanding how to apply effects, and to begin to understand how to use keyframes to change an effects properties.

For my second design idea, I chose a more complex animation to create, but chose one with a tutorial I could follow closely. (After Effects Simple Line Text Reveal Intro Animation Tutorial ) This would allow me to understand some of the more complex features of After Effects, further developing my software skills so that I could create my own animation without any help from tutorials in my final idea. I also had to use tutorials to help me solve smaller technical issues, (How to Enable Track matte in after effects CC) such as when following the text reveal tutorial, he had an option selected that was showing track matte, but I had to click on some buttons to be able to access the track matte feature.

The most comprehensive tutorial I followed was the After Effects Simple Line Text Reveal Intro Animation Tutorial, as it had chapters describing what was happening in which part of the video, and that enabled me to return to the video to see what I did not understand fully and have a recap. One area of the video highlighted that I did not understand was using the graph editor on individual keyframes. Consequently, if I wanted to develop my After Effect skills, I would look for a more specific tutorial or article explain how the graph editor works.


3. Design resources and articles

As I stated earlier, I had little experience of using After Effects before this task. I used the articles below to refresh my knowledge of what After Effects was used for and what it was capable of. Both articles proved useful in explaining to me what After Effects did, making me feel like I understood its capabilities more. Consequently, this meant I felt more confident in creating my GIFs, either when following a tutorial or creating my own idea.

What is After Effects | Comprehensive Guide to What is After Effects?

How to Use After Effects? | Basic After Effects Skills You Should Know 

I used this forum to help me solve a specific problem I was facing. When trying to create the desired ‘buzz words’ effect for my third idea, I was struggling to apply the animation correctly. The forum below helped me correct the animation, meaning I could edit how fast the buzz words appeared.

Solved: Pop Buzz Words – Adobe Support Community – 9821097

My inspiration for ideas was based upon general media that I had seen before. The third idea, which I believe was my most independent and creative idea, was based upon some previous advertisements I had seen. I cannot remember the brand, but it was for a speed-reading tool that made text you were reading appear in the same place. The theory of the advert was that you could read faster when words flashed in the same place, upping your words per minute. I remember thinking the effect was successful and wanted to replicate it in one of my designs.


4. Learning throughout the module

Throughout the module, I definitely improved my skills in After Effects by a large margin, improving a wide variety skills. I began the module with little experience and ended it with three pleasing designs and several extra hours experience spent using After Effects. I learnt how to perform basic functions like adding layers and editing keyframes, as well as exploring more complex features such as using layer masks and combining that with an animation.

On a broader note, I noticed an increase in my results on the scored quiz between the start and the end of the module, as well as an increase in confidence in my ability on certain areas in the quiz. I would say that overall, this module was a success as I developed my technical abilities significantly. I feel that sometimes I could have made more coherent designs, however when remembering that I was deliberately choosing areas of design that I am weaker at, I am pleased with my designs.