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The beginner's guide to After Effects

Dive into After Effects and start editing your home movies like a pro. Our After Effects tutorial can give you the basics.

Published onMarch 10, 2020

Some people may think of Adobe After Effects as the Photoshop of video. It can take your VFX and motion graphics to the next level if you learn how to use it correctly. All you need to get started is an After Effects tutorial.

We’re here to help you get over the initial challenges and start making your masterpiece. Welcome to the beginner’s guide to After Effects, where editing doesn’t have to be challenging.

After Effects tutorial

Before you even open a project, you have to get the lay of the land. After all, you wouldn’t go camping and set up your tent the first place you see. The After Effects interface consists of four main sections: Project Files, the Composition Window, Effects, and the Timeline. These areas contain every element that you’ve either imported or already exists in After Effects.

There are also tons of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to save time, but we’ll hold off on those for now. Once you’re ready to start, you’ll see that there are two main file types that you will use: Projects and Compositions. The Project file is your entire video and it’s made up of each Composition you create. Basically, your compositions will come together to form your project.

Save time with presets and templates

As you dive into a project, you don’t have to create everything from scratch. You can use presets and templates to spice up your video without having to create each element. Presets are styles, transitions, or effects that are already built and can be applied to your footage with ease. You could kind of compare them to Instagram filters. Templates are similar to Photoshop templates, where you can simply add your footage or change a text layer to customize it.

Learn to love layers

Beginner's Guide to After Effects

If you’re already familiar with Photoshop, you know that everything is made of layers. Your compositions in After Effects are no different. You can use masking layers on top of your content layer to emphasize some elements while hiding others from view. Layers are also what you use to create 3D text effects. After Effects already features many pre-built text animations in the Animations > Text Menu dropdown for you to choose from.

After Effects also features Shape Layers, which means that you can use it almost as a mini Adobe Illustrator. Just like in Illustrator, once you create a shape, you can use shape layer tools when you expand the shape layer in the timeline.

The power of plugins

Even though After Effects is an incredibly powerful and flexible application, there are still things that it cannot do. That’s where the huge range of plugins comes into play. There are different plugins for almost any additional feature you can think of: Element 3D helps import photoreal 3D models, Magic Bullet changes the color palette, and the list goes on from there.

What else can I do with After Effects?

You’ve already read some of the basics on what you can do with After Effects, but our After Effects tutorial are just the tip of the iceberg. You can use tons of other advanced features such as the 3D Camera Tracker — all it takes is a little bit of training. If you’re ready to take your video production game to the next level, we’ve found a learning kit on Tech Deals that might be just right.

You can work through over 45 hours of hands-on content in the Complete Videography Bundle: Beginner to Expert and turn your passion for film into a future. As well as After Effects, the learning kit also includes modules on Camtasia, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro to help you get comfortable with a variety of platforms.

after effects beginners

The kit includes a total of ten modules that help to start you out at a beginner level and build up your skills. It has a retail value of nearly $2,000 but you can grab it on Tech Deals right now for just $29.99. With over 400 lessons, you’ll be editing like an expert in no time. Check out the details via the widget below.

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