Why YOU really need to learn After Effects!

Anyways, before I get off track I want to talk you through why you really need to be able to use After Effects, because after all, who wouldn’t want to be able to make some kick-ass fight scene in a movie, or a professional looking title introduction for a video.

We start with probably the one thing that After Effects is the most well known for, and that is that you can create stunning visual effects, I mean who wouldn’t want to make their own version of the Avengers whilst sat in their living room, ok, maybe you can’t do that, or at least not yet, this is why you need to learn it.

After Effects can create truly impressive visual effects, hence the name After Effects. This truly is where the program shines – as a compositing tool. Just in case you don’t know a composite is when you take multiple visual elements and combine them to create the illusion of one single visual. As with everything else in After Effects, compositing can be very simple, or incredibly complex. There are a number of different tools that can make it that little bit easier though, including the chroma key, tracking tools and far more.

So, whether you’re reporting the weather on the local news, or you want to put an actor in a location where it is impossible, so let’s say in this case space, the greatest invention in all video, the green screen can come in handy, if done properly of course. In fact, working with green screen, well if you have done it correctly can be as easy as adding a chroma key effect to a layer and then selecting the green colour with a picker tool, and voila your actor is now in space.

Another big part of visual effects is tracking, tracking is a big part of visual effects, and After Effects has tonnes of different tools to get the job done, ain’t that bloody fantastic. For instance, if you are using a green screen shot that has any camera movement at all, you will need to use the tracker to match the shots in the composite. Trying to accomplish this in an NLE would prove too be very, very, very difficult indeed, so yeah you will need to learn it.

The tracking tool can also stabilise a handheld shot, or help you to create your own simulated handheld camera shake, although I’m not sure why you would want to too be honest. If you want to really take over your video, then use tracking in conjunction with masks to really take full control. In After Effects, you can mask out areas of your screen with shapes or paths. Masking is great for hiding unnecessary areas of a green screen, or isolating areas of the frame. Create a mask with various shape tools or draw a custom mask path with the pen tool. Animate the path of the mask to follow the action within your scene.

All three of these compositing tools are very versatile, and can create amazing visual effects when used alone or in conjunction with one another. So, are you convinced yet? Well, to be honest I have only scratched the surface of After Effects, and you can find out more about video editing next Wednesday when I talk about how you can use Premiere Pro to further save time.

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