After Effects for Beginners: Getting Started with After Effects

30/11/2021
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Adobe After Effects is certainly a high quality program that can work with professionals.  But believe it or not, with just a few quick tips and tricks, After Effects can also be an efficient tool for beginners. Here’s some tips for getting started with Adobe After Effects.

Start small.

There’s no reason you have to be a champion of After Effects animation in a day.  Professionals have worked years with this program to get the results they want.  By making sure you set reasonable expectations for yourself, you’ll be more likely to stay committed.  A great goal for After Effects for Beginners is just to complete a project. Think less of the quality of the project, and make your primary goal simply to complete it.

Find or Make Content.

A key tip for After Effects for Beginners is to trust the name of the program.  After Effects is not where you will be creating your content.  After Effects is merely the program you’ll be using to put your ideas together cohesively.  If you don’t want to create your own video and photo content, there’s a lot of options online for stock photography and video.  Try Pexels if you’re looking to get out of this for free off the bat.  When you’re ready to move beyond After Effects for Beginners, you may eventually want to pay for stock photography and video from another company like Envato.  When you’re ready to make the move into higher quality content, you can even pay someone to provide this quality video or photo content.

Upload your media.

Once you open the program, you’ll want to drop in the content you’ll be working with into the Project window on the left side of the program. When you’re just starting out with After Effects for beginners, you may not need to manipulate a ton of files.  As you work your After Effects animation skills up, you may want to organize the files by type.  Many professionals separate out their media to help make the rest of the process a little smoother for them. Consider this an essential part of the process- like a painter getting out their paintbrushes and palette.  While you’re not creating anything just yet, After Effects for beginners means setting your set up for success just like a professional.

Make a composition.

While After Effects will let you add a lot of neat elements to your final project, the first step is to make sure you’re working with something.  You can add After Effects text animation or other special effects without first having your initial layer of video or photo content. Click “Create New Composition” and fill in the command prompt with your preferred information. You can enter a time here for how long you’d like your clip to last.

If you’d like your composition to last the specific length of one of your video clips, simply create the composition by right clicking the video in your panel.  This will automatically create a clip length the same as your original.  When you’re working on After Effects for beginners, it may be a good idea to just work with this way of doing it to keep your project scale something you can handle.

As soon as you begin working on  your new composition, you’ll see it pop up in your project panel. A great tip for After Effects for beginners is to make sure to rename your new composition so you can tell which is your original video content and which one is the active project you’re working on. When you start adding After Effects animation or even After Effects text animation to your project, you’ll be grateful it has a different name so you can tell your work apart.

Just like other Adobe products, and a lot of applications for photo editing, Adobe After Effects uses layers to create final compositions.  You’ll see that when you add additional photos or videos they will appear on the bottom timeline in a stacked formation.  Don’t fret if what you want to see isn’t on the composition screen.  Odds are your varied content is just layered up. 

One of the ways professionals use layers the most is by using masks.  When you’re looking at top ways to improve skills for After Effects for beginners, using these masks is one of them.  This is how many Youtube stars edit their picture-in-picture videos for gaming or other digital tutorials. You can even create some interesting amalgamations of a couple videos like seen in this clip:

When you’re learning something new, there will be times when it gets frustrating. When it does, it’s a great opportunity to get tools and inspiration from other artists!

Play around with other effects.

On the far right of your screen you’ll see other effects.  The truth is the extent of what you can do with After Effects is exhaustive.  After Effects text animation can provide captions and title screens.  Other After Effects animations can give special effect like qualities to even your most mundane content.  Playing around with these effects is the best way to learn to use this tool.

Remember that at the end of the day, using After Effects for beginners is still a creative process.  While you may be inclined to follow tutorials on YouTube, every professional animator has their own strategies and techniques they like best.  By playing around, you’ll develop your own creative approach to using After Effects animation.  Don’t feel compelled to have your content look identical to others.

Render your creation.

When you’re done playing around, make sure you save (and share!) your creation.  By saving your learning projects, you’ll be able to see how your projects develop in complexity over time.

Go to the “Composition” tab and find the “Render” option.  From here, you’ll be able to pick the quality of your video and the file type you’re looking to create.  If you’re using After Effects for beginners, try out a simple mp4 file.  This one will easily upload to YouTube or wherever you’d like to share your project.

Keep going.

After your first After Effects animation, just keep trying!  Watching more YouTube tutorials can help you with niche skills for just the type of project you want to create.  For example, if you’re interested in After Effects text animation, try looking up some videos just to help you with that.  You’ll be better able to learn the specifics of what you’re trying to do after you have some basic knowledge. When you’re ready for the next level challenge, check out this article on another feature of After Effects, motion tracking. And just keep creating.

If you like publishing in lottie format- which is great for quick load times on your website, we encourage you to read up more about that here.  Rendering new file types can be a challenge, so we at Vidalgo wanted to provide a clear tutorial on how to get you up and running with the efficiency of the lottie format in no time.

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