After Effects is one of the great animation & composition tools used by web designers. Its goal is to help create and distribute animations and special effects of professional quality for television, cinema, web, etc. While it is very useful, the program can sometimes seem a bit difficult to use and even be quite scary to the newbies.

Most of the creative team members at EVO were self-learners. We watched a lot of tutorials, and use some tricks to get the result we were looking for. But that means that a lot of time was wasted on projects because of that.

However, thanks to a 3-day training with Thierry from AE Formations, we are now, Alexandra, Clara, Lorena, Marianne and Sacha, up-to-date and ready to make great things!

Because we want to share our knowledge and our experience with you, here is a little food for thoughts.

What impressed us the most: the expressions or scripts

It’s a small piece a code that allows you to modify a layer’s property along the entire timeline. Doing that, you can link two properties together so that when one changes, the other does too. For instance, you can link the speed of an object to its height and After Effects will automatically apply a script that will make the object grow taller while his speed grow higher. You can also link the height of an object with the music’s volume (converted in keyframes), the possibilities become infinite!
When expressions are used linking a child layer to a parent one, it becomes a very powerful tool that facilitates the creation of more complex animations. And it saves you a lot of time.
Shortcut to open the tool: ALT+ click on the timer icon
Lorena & Marianne

After Effect

What is going to make our lives a lot easier

Being able to reduce or lengthen the amount of time of an animation whilst keeping the keyframes proportionally distant from each other. To do that, click on “Position” to auto-select all the keyframes, hold down ALT and click either the first or last keyframe, now simply drag back and forth to adjust the amount of time and speed of the animation.

BONUS: You can change a series of keyframes, into itinerary keyframes (that will do this automatically when you pull on them) with right-click “Rove across time” option! The “Rove across time” option allows you to produce a constant speed based on multiple position keyframes. This is a bit difficult to do without the tool when you’re working with more then three keyframes.

A small step for mankind, a giant leap for EVO: 3D animation

In the world we live in, it’s impossible not to use this technology. Creating 3D compositions takes a lot of time and patience. Thanks to what we’ve learned during the training we can now work better & faster and be more creative.

The useful object:  the null object

The null object is an invisible layer working as a visible layer. Why is it great? It stays invisible but allows you to use it as an anchor point and/or as a parent layer. So many possibilities ahead of us! If you modify the null object, the layers that are linked to it will change as well.
To create a null object: Layer – New – Null object.

What amazed us

Creating a keyframe in the correct transformation, instead of manually clicking the correct point on the timeline. Set your time, hold ALT and type P to create a keyframe in the layer’s position timeline (or ALT + O for orientation, and so on)!
Alexandra, Marianne

After Effect

The magic trick: tracking

It is used to add an element to a video so that it is properly inserted and follows the movement. This tool allows us to do this integration without having to do it image after image. A wonderful magic trick!
Where can you find it? Window – Tacker – Track Motion
Lorena, Sacha

And then, everything looked different: the “wiggle” option

This function is used to add a trembling effect on any propriety. It adds credibility to action scenes and is really easy to create.
To use the Wiggler option: select two keyframes, go to window – wiggler (only inconvenient: it creates lots of additional key images).
Code: wiggle (frenquency, amplitude)
Clara, Marianne

A real time machine

Simply reversing an animation without manually having to duplicate each keyframe in the reverse order. To do that, select the necessary keyframes, right-click, under “Keyframe Assistant” select Time-reverse keyframes.

The tip that saves lives

Thank goodness that Thierry pointed out that holding down the CMD button while adjusting a light, forces the light to KEEP THE SAME FOCUS POINT!!!

The answer to all our prayers: the shortcuts

Whether you need to go from one keyframe to another or you need to duplicate a layer, there’s a shortcut you can use to do it faster than the speed of light. Such a time saviour! Make a list or memorise them all 😉

As you were able to see, our training gave us the opportunity to get a broader knowledge of how After Effects works and of how to make it work with other programs like Illustrator, Cinema 4D, Media Encoder, etc. And now, we can make our clients benefit from this new expertise!