After Effects, the Fall Quarter Project

Screen Shot of After Effects Project
Screen Shot of After Effects Project

Today is the presentation day of the quarter for my special topics project. This has been a turbulent quarter. I won’t say that I am happy about this class. It has caused me stress. There were days when I couldn’t seem to do anything right and I closed the program, stared at my desktop and then realized that I made a commitment to this topic in some way and that I had to break through the cloud of confusion.

I could have picked drawing, but instead I wanted to “ride the After Effects Train” and unfortunately it never left the station. I wanted some help with After Effects and I felt that the only way to do that was by doing it Fall Quarter when a handful of others also took on the project. We’ve all been figuring it out separately and perhaps for the best. Today will be illuminating as to what else can be done with this program. I’ve kept close to the Kinetic type route.

My work

After some small starts, trying to figure out masks and importing photoshop layers, I realized that my lack of  imagination was stopping me from exploring After Effects in a way that could keep me going all quarter. It was then I devised the test. I created some music samples and then asked everyone to draw some sequences that represented what they saw in their mind’s eye when they heard the sounds. I got back a surprising amount of good and interesting lines and shapes that I then was inspired to make a music video of abstraction.

The workflow

I did not keep a log of how long this project took. Next time I will. I estimate that it took about fifteen hours from creating the .aep file to posting it on YouTube. First (after listening through the song a few times) I wrote down the text for the opening words. Sentence by sentence, I arranged the words in Illustrator.

(Also see previous kinetic type project) For this: Make an illustrator file the same res as your video (super important). type the sentence. Create outlines. Ungroup. Arrange the sentence, nest words, consider emphasis. Then, group the letters word by word. In the layers panel there’s a drop-down menu where it says “send groups to layers” or something like that, I just look for the word (Sequence). Then take the layers out of the original layer. Delete the original layers. Then save.

Then import your .ai into After Effects. Always use the Illustrator/eps checkbox option and the keep the layer size option. Then create a new composition, drag your ai folder into the comp panel (see here for a diagram of names for panels) then right click and enable time remapping. Then bring in the audio file and show the waveform and align the words to the blips on the waveform.

I repeated this about twelve times for this project, though I only found out about the waveform bit near the end. The next thing I did was create shapes using the shapes panel. Every shape in the video is done in After Effects.  Inspired by this tutorial, GreyScaleGorilla.  I made a series of sequences where I used the previous sequence as a starting point, creating more complexity.

Here’s what I ended up with.

Here’s my presentation. I’ll miss these presentation days. The little things that people say when they are scriptless and describing their process. “Pulling a Nathan” means withdrawing efforts from learning After Effects. “How do to aerobics in a corset” is how Liz described the book she found on in-house designers. And the apt description of her fish friendliness indicator app “Fissues” (rhymes with issues).


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