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Beginner’s Guide to Adobe After Effects

After a video project has been edited, there’s still a lot of work to do before it’s ready for an audience. After all, Harry Potter wouldn’t be exciting to watch if the characters were just sitting on brooms in front of a green screen, right? Making that kind of movie magic is where Adobe After Effects comes into play.

After Effects is used for creating motion graphics, animation, and other special effects for video content. It is commonly used in the post-production process for film and television once editing is completed. This program helps stories come to life by adding appealing graphics that help to enhance the video and captivate the viewer.

Basic Features of Adobe After Effects

Post-production in filmmaking is when the project starts coming together, and After Effects is an industry-standard when it comes to special effects and animation. One important thing to remember is that After Effects has some elementary video editing tools, but it is not exclusively designed for that purpose. Using it in tandem with Adobe Premiere Pro usually makes for the most efficient workflow. But enough about what After Effects can’t do. Let’s learn more about some of the most impressive things that it can do.

Rotoscoping is a technique used in animation that has been utilized well before computers were around, but After Effects make it much simpler. This technique involves filming live actors acting out a scene, then animating the scene based on their movements to make it look more realistic. With After Effects, the principle is the same but the software traces the movements for you. Rotoscoping was used during the development of a lot of early Disney films, and the beloved Rocket Racoon character from Guardians of the Galaxy was done by rotoscoping a trained live raccoon!

If you’ve seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy and were especially moved by the character of Gollum, you may have wondered why. Motion tracking is partly the answer. Motion tracking allows for the camera to follow any moving objects that will be altered in post-production. What makes characters like Gollum unique is that they aren’t fully animated, nor are they actors wearing makeup or prosthetics; they capture the essence of an actor’s performance and are enhanced by powerful tools like After Effects. 

Compositing is the process where many effects are brought together to design something new. This can be something as simple as putting together the best takes from different performers, or as complex as creating an entire battle scene with hundreds of digitized characters. After Effects also allows you to use compositing with a green screen. We see green-screen effects in our everyday lives in movies, television shows, and even weather reports. Fun fact: the green screen was first used in 1988 for the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Pros and Cons of Adobe After Effects

Those who use After Effects regularly have several positive things to say about the program. Primarily, it allows the user to have total control over their effects and animation. Everything about the graphic, from the speed to the scale and so much more, is in your hands alone. Equally valuable is the sheer amount of features available in After Effects. Many users report that they never get bored of exploring the program and feel there is always something new to learn, even after working with it for several years. While beginners might find the program initially overwhelming, there is no shortage of online resources and tutorials to help solve just about any problem you come up against. 

There are some disadvantages to using After Effects to be aware of as well. One of the major drawbacks to After Effects is the price. Because Adobe is a subscription-based software, there are no options to buy a program for a one-time fee. Customers need to have an active subscription at all times to use the programs. Like other Adobe programs, After Effects takes up a great deal of space on a computer and requires a lot of processing speed to work properly. Being able to review your project in real-time can be a challenge if the program lags. Another thing to consider is that while After Effects has some 3D animation capabilities, this is not the program’s primary focus so those who want to boost their skills in 3D may want to look elsewhere. 

Careers That Use Adobe After Effects

You can probably guess that many careers requiring proficiency with After Effects involve film, animation, or television. While this isn’t the only prerequisite for a career, it’s a great place to start.

One option is to work as a Visual Effects Artist. Here, you’ll work with a team of artists to tell exciting stories through video games and other forms of media. This career requires a strong sense of teamwork and problem solving since you’ll often have to change your ideas quickly to ensure they mesh with the overall vision of the project. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports an average annual salary of $77,700 for VFX artists, and they predict these jobs will increase in demand over the next decade.

A Motion Graphics Designer is another example of a career path that requires skills with After Effects. These professionals are responsible for blending text, sound, and motion to create eye-catching animations that quickly grab the attention of an audience. Motion graphics are typically used in film and television, but they can also be used anywhere that animation is needed. Many motion graphics designers work in areas like advertising, social media, or video game design. A career in motion graphics pays an average annual salary of $77,000 and these jobs are projected to grow in demand by approximately 16% in the next ten years. 

Learn Adobe After Effects with Career Centers

Want to learn more about creating stunning graphics and animations with After Effects? Check out the Adobe After Effects classes offered through Noble Desktop, a partner program of Career Centers. If you’re looking to quickly learn the basics, the After Effects in a Day program might be for you. This six-hour beginner course will teach you to animate GIFs, create logos, and more. For something a bit more substantial, you can check out the 18-hour After Effects Bootcamp

If you’d prefer more comprehensive video editing or motion graphics training, Noble Desktop can help. The school offers a Motion Graphics Certificate and a Video Editing Certificate. Both of these programs cover Adobe After Effects, but they explore other skills that are required in these fields such as audio editing, Adobe Audition, and Premiere Pro. If you’d like to learn more about all of these things, you may want to look into their Video Editing & Motion Graphics Certificate, which combines both curriculums at a reduced cost. 

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