Advice To Editors: LEARN AE!

Creative COW by Kevin P. McAuliffe

Wow. Hard to believe After Effects (AE) has turned 20. Looking back on my experiences with AE, it's become a tool that I cannot live without in my daily editing duties.

I get tons of e-mails from people asking me questions about "Which NLE should I choose based on theses criteria?" I always say the same thing....."In my opinion, I would recommend INSERT NLE HERE, and make sure you get a copy of After Effects as well." Unless I'm doing a basic title, I'm in AE with just about every project I work on, on a daily basis and for me, it's basically become one and the same with my Avid Symphony NLE.

I have had people ask me before how I got started with AE, well here it is.

Probably about 16 years ago, I was an editor at Edge Productions, a division of MacLaren McCann advertising here in Toronto, Canada, where we did commercial work for General Motors, Coca-Cola, McNeil Consumer Products and a whole bunch of other top companies. I worked with Art Directors and Copywriters every day, and always ran into the same situation. Whenever we needed to do a "visual effect" of some kind, they would always go to a "high end" compositing facility to do the work.

In most cases, this work was being done on a Quantel HAL or Henry system, and it got to the point where when I went with them, I would look at the work these guys were doing, and think "There's gotta be a way that I can do work like this in-house, and we can bill for that money that's going to an outside facility."

I had After Effects 3.5 on my system, but had never really "used" it. I had played around with it, and had learned the masking tool pretty well, but never really had a chance to use it in a "production" situation. Then, a commercial came through (I remember it vividly) for the Pontiac Trans Sport Minivan, and it had Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner in it. At the end of the commercial, the Coyote reached across the screen to pull an element over to reveal the truck's logo and website information. We needed to replace the US creative with Canadian creative and, of course, the AD and CW wanted to go out of house to do this.

As soon as I saw the spot, my first thought was "I can do this in that After Effects program!" They had the session booked for a Friday, and it was Tuesday now, so without saying anything, I got to work trying to do the work in-house, and prove to those outside the four walls of our little "internal" post facility that we can play with the big boys. read more...

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