Join Ian Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the interface of After Effects, part of After Effects CC Essential Training (2015).
- Now the first time you launch After Effects You'll probably see this welcome screen. I don't want you to panic becuase I have a bunch of different things down here that you may not necessarily have in your welcome screen. This list in the lower left corner here will open the most recent project you've had open. Other than that I want to kind of draw your attention to the default settings of this welcome screen. At the top here I have settings that will synchronize my preferences from my After Effects project to my Creative Cloud account.
So anytime I go to another computer and log in with my Creative Cloud account the preferences for After Effects will sync to that new machine. On the right hand side here I have some shortcuts to do things like create New Compositions or open New Project. To be honest I never use these. I rarely ever use the Welcome Screen. Most of the time I just go ahead and deselect this option to show the Welcome Screen at startup and I go ahead and close the panel and start working in After Effects. Now I know the first time you launch After Effects the interface may seem a little bit overwhelming but let me break it down into some common terms if you're familiar with some of the other Adobe Creative Cloud applications.
I like to think of After Effects as a blend between Photoshop and Premiere Pro. So to show you what I mean, if we look in the Project panel in the upper left hand corner this allows me to import any external files. Now this works in a similar fashion to importing footage inside of a Premiere Pro project. When you import a QuickTime file or a layered graphic element into your After Effects project, After Effects doesn't actually embed that file in the project file, it's always going to be looking externally for that file.
So if you move that file anywhere else After Effects may lose the link. So it's really important to just pay attention to how well your files are organized. In the Project panel I've organized things into folders. You can easily create new folders just by coming to the bottom of the panel and creating a new folder. Inside my top 01 folder here I have this thing called a Composition. If I click on it once in the top of my Project panel it will show me the pixel resolution, the duration of the composition and the framerate. So when I double click the comp it opens up this timeline down here and my Composition panel.
So my timeline on the right looks very much like a timeline in a Premiere Pro project. This thing that looks like a guitar pick is my current time indicator. If I click on that and drag that I'll get a preview as to what's going on in my composition up here in my Composition panel. On the left hand side you should notice this looks very similar to Photoshop. I have my eyeballs here that control the visibility of the layers as I turn them on and off and I have blend modes right here, which are very much like layer blend modes.
If you're not seeing these modes there's a button in the bottom of the interface that will toggle between these switches and these modes. But like I said, these modes are very much like the modes or the blend modes that you would see in your After Effects project. Now over here on the right side of the interface you'll notice I have an Adobe Creative Cloud libraries panel. Any files that you've saved to your Creative Cloud library should synchronize right into here. And then we have our Preview panel where I can press play and stop or just use the spacebar on my keyboard to play and stop.
This'll load up a preview of my project and I can see exactly how my graphics are building into my scene. I'll press the spacebar to stop playback. Now in the upper left corner you'll see all the different tools that we can use to create elements. So if I wanted to create text I could grab my text tool. If I want to add a square I could grab my square shape tool. You get the general idea. The tool bar is up here. If you look in the upper left corner of each one of these panels you'll see a name and that's the name of the panel.
And whenever a panel is active you'll see a blue line around that panel. If I want to move my panels around the interface, say I want this Project panel to be on the right side of the Composition panel i can click on the text and drag it over to the right. Notice I get these highlights. So here with this highlight to the right of the Composition panel I'll let go and now my project is in a new place. So the interface is very dynamic. You can move between panels, you can resize things, you get the idea.
Now if you want to close a panel you can click these little lines to the right of a name. So here, I'll click on the Project panel here and close the Project panel. Now as you move the interface around, things might get a little jumbled. If you want to reset your panels you need to actually go to the Workspace pull down in the upper right corner. So I'll click on that and I'll choose the Standard Workspace nine times out of ten. But since I've been working in that workspace I actually need to reset those panels. So here, I'll click on the pull down and I'll choose Reset Standard.
It's gonna ask me am I sure? Yes. So if you ever find the interface of After Effects looking a little strange, make sure to go up to the Workspace and reset your workspace. Like I said earlier, nine times out of ten when I'm working in the application this is the pre-built workspace that I'm going to be working in. Now this was a rather cursory overview of the interface of After Effects so don't panic if you don't remember everything I just told you because we'll spend plenty more time diving into the process for creating animations and motion graphics with application.
You'll definitely get more familiar as we continue on.
- Building graphics such as lower thirds, logos, and credit rolls
- Repairing and retiming video
- Keying green-screen footage
- Animating a 3D logo
- Motion tracking
Your guide, Ian Robinson, wraps up the course with some project management techniques that will help you merge projects from multiple editors, and get you in the habit of archiving completed work.