Artists have a tendency to rely on their favorite brush. A digital artist is no exception. If you’re a Visual FX artist, Adobe After Effects should be in your quiver.
I animate and create visual effects (Vfx or Visual FX) for a living. It goes without saying that, for any project, Adobe After Effects is where I spend most of my time.
Here are 5 reasons why it’s a staple in my toolkit:
1. It’s the Most Affordable Vfx Software
If you are buying the software for yourself, Adobe After Effects will cost you $30/month per license. However, if you’re just getting into it, students can get the entire Adobe Creative Suite including Photoshop, Illustrator, and more for $20/month for the first year.
The cost of entry on other apps can be prohibitive for many people. For instance, another popular Vfx software used in the industry, Nuke, costs approximately $4,500 for a single license.
2. Wide Range of Capabilities in Visual FX
While each software package might boast its own unique features, none of them performs more tasks easier than Adobe After Effects.
Whether you want to color correct a music video, replace a green-screen in your footage, or make fireballs shoot from your hands, AE helps you do almost anything.
My favorite out-of-the-box feature is the 3D Camera Tracker. With a single click After Effects can determine the exact movement of your camera from a piece of footage.
Once the footage has been motion-tracked, it’s possible to seamlessly place an object directly into the scene as if it were there from the beginning.
3. After Effect’s Shallow Learning Curve
Getting started within After Effects is easier than you might think. Because of its intuitive layout, beginners can often animate bouncing objects or make footage appear slow-motion within the first hour.
There is a never-ending supply of free online tutorials to keep your skillset sharp. Most notably, the website Video Copilot gives step-by-step instructions on how to create some powerful visuals.
Adobe’s entire suite of applications have been powerfully useful for years. While they are constantly adding new features to the Creative Suite, most older tutorials still have lots of value.
4. It’s the Industry-stand Vfx Software
If you’re looking to be hireable within the Vfx and motion-graphics industry, you should be proficient in AE.
Fluency with the software is especially important for those looking to work on collaborative projects.
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At most Visual FX jobs, files are frequently exchanged between designers. Limiting the software used on a project streamlines workflow.
In most cases, this means you’ll be working with Adobe products. In fact, companies in the creative domain will likely have the full Adobe Creative Suite on their machines. Just the by-subscription Adobe Creative Cloud alone had 12-million active subscribers at the end of 2017.
If you’re able to work with their existing software, the company can save on business expenses. That’s if they hire you without Adobe product experience in the first place.
5. Tons of Plug-ins for Visual Effects Artists
Many of After Effects’ limitations can be remedied by 3rd party plug-ins.
Typically, AE is best-suited within the scope of what’s known as “2.5D”. This means that a 3D effect is merely simulated using 2D layers in parallax.
Fortunately, one such plug-in, Element 3D, allows users to import 3D models into their scene with minimal effort.
If you want to spice up your project with organic-looking particle effects, Trapcode Particular is another great plug-in to have.
It should be mentioned that these plug-ins can sometimes cost several hundred dollars. However, the speed at which they enable designers to create stunning effects makes them a must-have for professionals.
There is a case to be made for using other software in lieu of After Effects for specific tasks. Additionally, After Effects can’t do every task alone.
However, designers looking for a robust and flexible tool to have in their creative arsenal would be well-served to take on Adobe After Effects.