Video editing professionals all recognize
the importance of matching the right application with the right
task. In fact, knowing both the capabilities and limitations
of any application is an essential characteristic of all good
editors. For these reasons and others, most Final Cut Pro cutters
recognize the important role Adobe Affect Effects plays.
Inside After Effects 6, by Magnetic Media,
is a basic introduction to Adobe's latest incarnation of After
Effects, perhaps the premier software-based cross platform animation
and compositing program available today. The Director-based DVD
provides in twenty-four lessons a simplified introduction to
After Effects 6.0 in the context of developing a specific project,
which is included on the DVD. This is not an explanation of AE's
new tools in version 6. Instead, it introduces After Effects
The DVD is divided into three separate
categories Animation, Compositing and Finishing (your project).
As the tools and features are introduced, they are used to develop
the project. This approach is refreshing and instructive, because
it teaches in real world environment, rather than simply introducing
tools. For those of us who suffered through years of Electric
Image manuals, you'll know what I mean.
After Effects expert Jurgen Miller does
a good job of explaining the basics of this intensive program.
What Jurgen does not do is explain the intricacies of every filter,
effects, and capability of AE6, which is consistent with the
introductory approach this training DVD assumes. If you want
an in depth learning aide, you might want to consider the much
pricier offerings on After Effects from Total
The Animation section contains introductory
materials on the After Effects interface including how to import
files, and set up project settings for use in D1 output, including
Final Cut Pro. Because AE is keyframed based, Jurgen spends some
time explaining both concept of keyframing within the program,
and how parameters for FX and titling can be keyframed. A segment
on the new titling and text capabilities introduced in AE6 is
Additional sections instruct on the use
of velocity curves to provide realistic motion in animation,
the use of modes and switches to affect appearance between layers
of video and text, and controls used to render your compositions
to your target video codec. A section is included on how to set
up a render setting for movies intended for Final Cut Pro NTSC
The animation session does not detail
the use of every filter or effect provided in After Effects.
Rather it explains how specific filters are utilized to achieve
a look in the project file provided on the DVD.
But principles taught here apply with
equal force for any filter or effect in After Effects, or in
FCP for that matter. Basic instruction on AE's Wiggler and Parenting
capabilities are provided as well as the importance of nesting
when applying effects. The latter section is useful in understanding
the same concept in the FCP interface.
The Compositing section deals extensively
with the use of masks, track mattes, and blend modes. As with
the other sections, Jurgen's comments are augmented by on screen
graphics depicting modifier keys, and examples of before/after
application of effects. It also includes information on the need
to prerender nested compositions to speed production.
Perhaps the least useful section, in
my opinion, is "Finishing" your video. I state this
because it deals with the final steps necessary to achieve what
the Jurgen wants to achieve in the supplied project composition.
Much of what is discussed is duplicative of earlier materials.
Frankly I think this section should be shortened and a primer
on available filters and their use should be added. But this
is a minor criticism. The final chapter on "rendering for
different purposes" demonstrates how to set up a template
for rendering for use in NTSC DV.
As I have previously stated, I prefer this style of DVD-based, random access, interactive teaching. FCP cutters unfamiliar with After Effects capabilities or those seeking additional tools to augment their video arsenals will find this teaching aid useful. But remember that this DVD is only introductory. Nor is it an in depth examination of the new capabilities of After Effects 6. While it introduces some new features, that is all it does. But for those unfamiliar with AE6, the price is right, particularly at the LAFCPUG store.
Copyright ©2004 David
Purchase in the lafcpug Store
A. Saraceno is a motion graphics
artist located in Spokane, Washington. He has written for DV
Magazine, AV Video, MacHome Journal, and several state and national
legal technology magazines. David also moderates several forums