After Effects – CS5 Projects and Workflow

By Tom Womack

After Effects was an early leader in special effects and media development and it continues to innovate today. So many things have changed since its first release and this ease and versatility make your job so much easier.

Our computers have become much more powerful and the ability to share information seamless. These two single factors cannot be overstated and they are especially true for media applications such as After Effects. The tasks of media applications is to blend media so having an application for photography, for music, for video was the world it would blend. Having powerful tools from all of these applications such as the ability to adjust reverb in your audio or create bevel and shadow for your text or adjust colors make it something of a ‘one stop shop’ and we haven’t even gotten to the effects yet!

If the Web redefined our media experience in the 90′s, media is redefining the Web experience of our new century. Hulu TV? Skype? Online shopping? Can you remember the first time you nervously made your first online purchase? And perhaps sadly, the only news organizations that remain vibrant are those who have set priority on their Web presence as their paper circulation dwindles.

What does this have to do with After Effects? Everything. After Effects is the tool of choice for motion graphics, visual effects, and compositing. In this world you find marketing, education, special effects video, and animation. How will it help you? Pick a project.

My experience with After Effects is that it provides so much it can be overwhelming. There were times I created a ‘need to know’ list to learn techniques I deemed important but maybe the best way to find your way around town is to to pick a project you want to portray. Consider the resources you will be working with. You can do enormous presentations with video. You can take advantage of easy to use keying techniques to blend you or your subjects into other video or create backdrops that ‘send your message’.

You will also find that video, even relatively short segments, produces very large files and even in this time of ever increasing bandwidth, this file size and extended render time is a consideration. However if you flirt with animation, creating your own images, using text and symbols and icons to portray your message, you will be amazed at how much you can say with very little, very little file size that is.

There’s nothing like a practical application to help you seek out the possibilities of any software so whether you are doing a presentation, an advertisement, or dressing up your website, this is a great way to discover the tools and special features of After Effects CS5.

Full Moons, Dogcreek, think globally, act locally.

Web Designer Tom Womack uses Adobe Creative Suite 5 and Cinema4D creating dynamic sites with rich media.

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