- When you're working in After Effects, it's extraordinarily important to make sure that your preferences are set up properly. So to do that, let's open our preferences. On the Mac, you can go up to After Effects and choose Preferences, and go to General. On Windows, you would just go up under Edit and go to your Preferences for the General section. Now you may notice there are many boxes that are already selected and some aren't. I have a personal preference that I like to enable when I'm teaching people when they first get started in After Effects. And that's to enable Default Spacial Interpolation to Linear.
This option is just gonna make our animation process a little bit easier and I'll explain this more clearly in the animation chapter. Let's go to the Previews section. In here, this is where you can enable GPU processing. Here if we go to the Fast Previews section, I want you to go ahead and click on GPU Information. In here we can enable graphics processing versus CPU processing. On supported computers, you wanna go ahead and enable the GPU processing.
This really only comes into play when you enable Ray Tracing, but again, I'll explain this a little bit more later. I just want you to see now in your preferences, this is an option that you can go ahead and enable. Most Nvidia cards are supported. If you wanna chance it, you can enable untested or unsupported graphics processing if you want. I recommend just leaving that deselected for now. If you don't have the option to enable GPU processing, don't worry about it. After Effects works fine processing directly off your processor.
The graphics processing just allows for a little extra heavy lifting when we enable 3D. So I'm gonna go ahead and cancel out of that. And let's move on to the next section. In the Display section, I want you to go ahead and enable Hardware Acceleration for the Composition Layer and Footage Panels. This is an option that most modern computers can support perfectly well, it's just gonna make things move a little bit more quickly. If we go to the Import section in here, we have an option for Still Footage.
Now if you use After Effects to animate still images, you may wanna change the default duration that that images when it goes ahead and imports into a project. By default it's automatically going to make the duration of the still the entire length of your composition. I'll just go ahead and leave that default setting for now. If you are dealing with 24-frame footage a lot as opposed to 30-frame footage, you can actually set the default setting for image sequences that you can import into your project.
But I'll show you how we can adjust that later on. One of the most important things to get right is this area down here. Media & Disk Cache. You wanna make sure that your Disk Cache is enabled. Which it will be enabled by default. But one of the things I recommend you do is to go ahead and choose a different folder on a separate drive from your system. The default settings will just set your cache right on your local drive where your operating system and your application is installed. For optimum performance you wanna go ahead and choose a folder on a separate hard drive.
And preferably you wanna have three hard drives to work with. What do I mean by that? Well an optimum setup is to have your source footage, any video that you think you're going to be using in After Effects on one hard drive that's separate from your computer or separate from your CPU and your system drive. And then you wanna have another hard drive that's set up as your cache hard drive. So you can have three hard drives. You'd have the one that has your system and the application installed on it, one that has your source footage, and a separate one for cache.
Now that's an optimum setup. Most people just have one or two drives. I recommend at least using two drives and just when you click Choose Folder, choose a folder on a separate hard drive, separate from your system. Now you can do the same thing down here with your Media Cache as well. Every once in a while if you notice After Effects behaving strangely, you may wanna come in to your preferences, under Media & Disk Cache, and choose Clean Database and Cache. This is just going to remove any extemporaneous files.
And sometimes those files can get a little funky. So like I said, if things look strange, go ahead and clean your database and cache. Another good practice every once in a while is to empty your disk cache. I'm gonna go ahead and click that. Notice I have an extra gig of hard drive space that I can free up just by emptying this disk cache. Now let's move down to the Appearance section. This is one of the things that you may notice with this most recent version of After Effects 2014.1. The interface is significantly darker and now all the highlights are blue instead of kind of an orange-gold color.
If you wanna change the brightness, you can go ahead and just click on the slider and change it back to a lighter interface if you like. Now I happen to prefer the default setting so I'm gonna go ahead and just click Default and make sure that that's set up that way. One very helpful feature is auto-save. In here you can set up After Effects to automatically save your projects for a specified duration. I generally recommend saving every 15 minutes so I'm gonna go ahead and just choose save 15. And again, this is very much like setting up your cache.
Yes it'll default to saving next to your current project, but for safety's sake, I recommend choosing a custom location and choosing a hard drive that's separate from your system. That way if, heaven forbid, your hard drive should crash, you always have a backup of your projects saved in a remote location. Let's go to Memory & Multiprocessing. The most important thing to understand in this section is that memory is shared across all of these different applications. I currently am only running After Effects so it's using all of the RAM, but if I had Photoshop open and Premiere Pro open, it would actually distribute the RAM across all of the those applications.
Now you can specify if you want RAM reserved for other applications outside of Adobe Creative Cloud. One of the things you may want to enable is Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously. This will take advantage of multicore processors. Now if you do enable this, I do recommend just leaving this next selection selected. It'll go ahead and make your RAM previews that much more fast. Now notice once Render Multiple Frames is enabled, I have an option down here for my RAM allocation per CPU.
The way you wanna think about this depends on the resolution of the footage that you're working with. If you're working with 1920 by 1080 footage, or higher, you'll want a larger RAM allocation per CPU. If you're working with relatively low resolution footage, you can go ahead and decrease this number. If you decrease this number, it'll actually distribute the processes across multiple CPUs. Now like I said, the higher resolution the footage, the higher you want this RAM allocation per CPU because you can kind of not hit that sweet spot if you don't give each CPU enough RAM.
Now since I'm only working on eight gigs of RAM I'm just gonna go ahead and turn off Render Multiple Frames for my system. But you can definitely leave it enabled for yours. Now the last setting I want you to check out are the Sync Settings. This is where you can specify whether your settings are automatically going to sync up to your Creative Cloud. This allows you to log in to your Creative Cloud account on any other computer system and it'll automatically download and install your preferences to that new system. Now that being said, what if you wanna just save your preferences to a hard drive or a thumb drive? Well you can do that if you go to the General section of your Preferences.
Down here, I can click Reveal Preferences in Finder, or if I'm on Windows, Reveal Preferences in Explorer, and I can just copy that preference file to an external drive. Now there's one last thing I want you to know about preferences. If you ever think that you need to delete your preferences, which sometimes you will if After Effects is acting up sometimes you can just delete your preferences and that'll fix the issue. So if you tried emptying the cache, and things are acting strangely, delete your preferences.
And the way you do that is to hold down command-option-shift on the Mac as you launch After Effects. Now if you're on Windows you wanna hold down Control-Alt-Shift, then After Effects will ask you "Are you sure you wanna delete the preferences?" And you can say "Yep". And it will go ahead and reset your preferences back to the default settings. Now we can just go ahead and click OK because our preferences have been updated.
- Video terminology
- Creating your first composition
- Using layers, masks, blend modes, and track mattes
- Parenting objects
- Building complex objects with Pre-compose
- Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
- Understanding the order of effects
- Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
- Lighting a scene
- Animating type on a path
- Using Keylight for green-screen footage
- Archiving projects
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added new movies to the "Fundamentals of After Effects" chapter, reorganized and re-recorded the "Up and Running" and "Keying Green Screen Footage" chapters, and added new movies on Color Finesse 3 and masking individual effects.
Q: When I try to open a project file, After Effects tells me I need to update my system, since the file was made with version 13.0. But I already installed the most recent After Effects update. Why can't I open the project?
Q: This course was updated on 11/03/2014. What changed?
A: We updated 25 movies to reflect changes to the Creative Cloud 2014 release of After Effects. This includes the new optimized user interface and enhanced Cineware and CINEMA 4D Lite pipeline. The new movies are labeled with the "(CC 2014.1)" tag.