January 13, 2019

10 (More) Techniques That Will Turn You into an After Effects Rock Star

Want to speed up your After Effects workflow? These 10 tips will help.

As much as we all love editing, we'd all like to spend less time doing it. No, this doesn't mean editing less—it means editing smart, and there are many ways to supercharge your workflow so you can do your work more efficiently.

Last month, Todd Blankenship from Shutterstock shared 10 helpful tips for editors wanting to speed up their work in Adobe After Effects, and now he's opening up his "After Effects Playbook" again to share 10 more.

(The video is a hearty 24 minutes long, but I promise that every second of it is worth a watch!)

Quickly, let's go over the tips Blankenship mentions in the video:

  • Animating Text: Want to give your text a cool stop motion look? Use the turbulent displace effect on your text, then adjust the evolution toggle, jumping a couple of frames each time as you go.
  • Sequence Layers: No one wants to spend time staggering layers on their timeline. Select all of your layers, go to Keyframe Assistant, and select Sequence Layers. Boom! You're done!
  • Bouncy Animation: You can add a cool bounce animation to your elements and transitions by adjusting its scale from 0%, adding a keyframe, then to 100%, adding a keyframe, and then add a keyframe in the middle where the scale goes slightly over 100%. Finally, smooth out the motion with easy ease keyframes on either side with your speed graph editor.
  • DIY Fire Embers: You can create your own fire embers in After Effects. The process is quite detailed, so make sure to follow the tutorial, but essentially you'll use a solid and CC Particle World to create an awesome, semi-realistic/semi-stylized ember effect.
  • Animators and Repeaters: Some pretty cool effects are hidden in a little element drop-down that allow you to repeat shapes, change their dimensions and orientations, and just do crazy, weird stuff.
  • Orient Along Path:  If you want to make an animated arrow that follows a path (for a travel graphic or something), create a line with your pen tool, as well as a shape (probably a triangle since it's an arrow) that you want your line to follow, set it as a center anchor point. Then, copy your line's path to your shape, right click on your shape, go to Transform, select Auto Orient, and select Orient Along Path. Finally, click on your line layer, select Trim Paths, and set your start and end parameters.
  • Save Animation Presets: You can save your animations as presets by selecting all of your effects, open up the Animation tab, and select Safe Animation Preset.
  • Screen Cap Animations: Blankenship shows you how to create 3D screen capture animations, complete with parallax, using the 3D camera.
  • Super Long Timelines: After Effects isn't that great when it comes to working with audio, but Blankenship shows you how to use Dynamic Link to work in Premiere Pro and then send your completed audio over to After Effects.
  • Tricky Motion Tracking: If your composition doesn't have a lot of contrast, it can be difficult to apply motion tracking, since After Effects disregards any color correction you add to give it more contrast. To fix that, Blankenship pre-composes his layer and selects "Move All Attributes". Now, you'll be able to add contrast, add your tracking, and delete your contrast afterward.

What are some other clever tricks editors can use in After Effects? Let us know down in the comments.     

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