Adobe After Effects Tutorial #1: Basic Tips for Beginners

Are you looking at different video software products and wondering if Adobe After Effects is for you? We at KidLit TV are publishing a mini series of articles to teach beginners how to rock this popular Adobe video editing program. And for those who already have experience with Adobe After Effects, you’re in luck because we’ll be sharing tips that go above and beyond the basics, too!

Chapter 1: Basic Tips for Beginners

Before you begin, think about these important questions:

  • Do you know the proper videography terminology?
  • Have you had any experience using video editing software in the past?
  • What’s your minimum/maximum budget range?

Now that you’ve answered these questions do you think Adobe After Effects is your best videography software choice? If you answered “yes” to the above questions then these tutorials are for you! 

But, not to fear if your answer was “no”! We’ve created tutorials on low-cost, easy-to-use options on our KidLit.TV website:

If you were to search on Google or Youtube you’ll see thousands of tutorials about After Effects. But it’s difficult to find tutorials that that teaches the basics.

A few of the best tutorials that the KLTV team recommends are:

There are also hundreds of After Effects basic video tutorials on the Creative COW website. If you search for AE tutorials you’ll be introduced to a wide range of features! Now, for those of you interested in learning about Adobe After Effects here are five tips to get you started:

Think about what kind of work you’ll be doing.

Image features Dr. Anthony Manna's 'The Orphan' book trailer. Illustrations by Giselle Potter
Image features Dr. Anthony Manna’s ‘The Orphan’ book trailer. Illustrations by Giselle Potter

There are millions of possibilities you can conduct:

  • 2D and 3D animations
  • Create your own effects or choose from a wide range of free effects
  • Render in 1080p (high definition) and create Hollywood-like home videos

Take the time to think about what your project needs to focus on and take your time.

Render Queue
Render Queue

Term used: render — To generate a video production in its final form, including transitions, effects, and superimposed tracks. You can render portions of a Timeline in order to preview your edits at that point, or render the entire production before exporting it in its final form, to a disk file or out to tape.

Keeping Your Project Organized

It’s not surprising how easy it is to get disorganized with your Project Windows and how difficult it can be to locate your source files in a clutter. If you don’t keep everything organized then it will be like you’re on a scavenger hunt without a list or map.

If you’re using After Effects for a professional project, keep yourself organized. If you are disorganized you can spend hours looking for a source to edit and end up creating a project that’s horrendous and unorganized. If you’re a freelancer like me this is especially important because an organized editor has a higher chance of getting hired.

Organization skills differ with every video editor, but overall it should be a basic skill. Sometimes editors don’t have time to be organized because they have a tight deadline. So here’s a tip that will save you and your colleagues a lot of time when editing a project.

Term used: Project window — The main window, used to import and save clips used in the program you are editing and organize them into bins. You save each editing activity in a separate Project file, including the imported material and editing context.

One tip to keep After Effects organized is to keep your files stored in bins and name each bin after categories. These include:

The Audio Bin:

  • Music
  • SFX (Sound Effects)
  • VO (Voice Over)

The Footage Bin:

All project footage goes into here whether it’s Raw, Movie, Television, Etc. Within it can be a subfolder named Stills for titles, adjustment layers, logos, motion graphics, stills, etc.

Reference Bin:

This can be where you store reference projects, photos or even tutorials to keep up-to-date with your project.

 Familiarize with terms:

When I was taking video editing classes this website helped me memorize videography terminology so I wasn’t left in the dust when starting my projects.

Learn Keyboard Shortcuts:

Productivity is also important when using After Effects and what’s better than learning as many keyboard shortcuts as you can? In the vast video-editing world keyboard shortcuts are essential. Here’s a link for a complete list of After Effects Shortcuts.

Some of the key shortcuts are:

  • V for Selection,
  • H for the Hand tool,
  • Spacebar to temporarily active the Hand,
  • W for Rotate, and so on,
  • 0 (zero) on the keypad for RAM Preview,
  • Control-0 if you don’t have a keyboard with a keypad.
  • A for Anchor Point,
  • P for Position,
  • T for Opacity (think of it as Transparency),
  • R for Rotation,
  • S for Scale,
  • E for Effects,
  • M for Mask,
  • F for Mask Feather.

Now that you’re familiar with the first basic importances of Adobe After Effects we’ll start going over the fundamentals next week. Tell us what you’d like to learn, and share your own tips and tricks with us while we continue this series. Until then make sure you study what we’ve discussed so by next week you’ll be ready to begin your first project!


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