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Adobe After Effects


Adobe After Effects (AE) is a video and image compositing program that is also used to create motion graphics, and special effects capable of interpreting 2D footage and assets into 3D space. It can also be used to make simple animations.

Understanding UI and Tools

Important: all assets you use are NOT embedded into the file; After Effects loads footage (image or video) and audio from the location at the very time you import something so therefore, save yourself any stress by putting everything inside a folder, before importing it into the file. By default, AE will look for footage in the same location the project file is found (everything in one folder).


By the default "Essentials" workspace, AE will open with three main windows and two other windows at the side. Your Project window at the left side contains every single bit of footage and audio you have imported in the file, and is where you can find everything. Your composition window is in the center and is where you will be compositing and doing all your stuff. Your timeline is at the bottom which contains everything you have put into the current composition.

Press CTRL N to create a new Composition, which is essentially what it sounds like. lt is a composition of your works, anything and everything you animate or place in the timeline, you can separate with different compositions. Standard HDTV sizes with square pixels are:
  • 1920 x 1080
  • 1280 x 720

All ratios are under Presets.

You can edit the composition any time by pressing CTRL + K. For every piece of footage (besides audio) you bring into AE, you can animate with a few basic parameters; press the corresponding key to open that parameter up to change the value.

  • P - Position (x and y values)
  • S - Scaling (x% of the original size; clicking the link off will let you scale them improportionately)
  • T - Opacity/Transparency (x% opacity values)
(to see multiple parameters at once, hold SHIFT and than press the next one, such as P, SHIFT S, SHIFT T to open up all three at once)

Every single thing in AE with a stopwatch button is a parameter that you can animate and set keyframes on. Click it to set a keyframe, and change times on the Timeline to set another keyframe. It will set keyframes automatically if you simply change values too.
Press the U button two times quick to expand all parameters that you have edited, as well as hide them.

You can also work and animate your stuff without changing some numbers around. Using the Selection Tool (V) to select and move things around, Rotation Tool (W) to rotate things, and by clicking and dragging the square corners of objects to scale them (hold Shift to retain proportions).