More advanced After Effects Tutorials

Have you found yourself wanting to do more with your video?

Not sure how to do it with Premier?

That’s because you probably can’t.

Adobe After Effects is where all of the cool stuff is at. And if you familiarize yourself with it, you can do some incredibly impressive things. I’m not going to pretend that I understand all of it well enough to explain it to you, so I’ll give you an awesome link instead:

That’ll show you how to do almost everything you could ever want to do with After Effects. Some of them are quite advanced and might take a while to get worked out, but it can also help you to better understand the basics and how to apply them (I know that’s what I’ve been using them for).

Have fun!


Video Transitions and You!

A good video narrative needs some transitions much like a good written narrative needs transitions. Without them you’re video and your writing will be bland and seem monotonous. I’m going to focus on five different types of transitions, and hopefully I’ll be able to explain when and where to use them.

1: The Cut (Or Jump Cut)

This is your basic run of the mill transition. Some people may argue that a cut isn’t truly a transition, but it is. This is simply when you go straight from one clip to another. Clip one. Clip two. Just like that.
This is a good choice when you don’t want to give the idea of passing time such as when combining two clips of one monologue or when two scenes are happening at parallel times. The only great concern that must be faced when using a cut is that you shouldn’t go from a scene with sound to one with silence or vice versa. If your first clip ends with someone talking the next should begin with someone talking. If your first clip ends with music your second clip should begin with music. Etc.
2: The Crossfade (Dissolve/Mix)

As you may have guessed, this is a fade between two clips.  Crossfades tend to be relaxing and slow, so they lend themselves to videos that are going for a contemplative or melancholy mood. As with cuts you must also be conscious of audio changes between clips in a crossfade, but to a lesser extent. The crossfade will allow you to transition smoothly between clashing audio, but using crossfades to often to rectify clashing audio tends to make a video seem disjointed.

3: The Fade

This is something like the crossfade, but instead of fading into another clip the fade fades into a single color. This is usually used to begin or end separate scenes. Since the scene fades out to a color the problem of clashing audio is completely avoided with the fade.

4: The Wipe

The wipe is related to the crossfade, but it uses a geometric pattern to switch clips. A wipe tends to signify a change in location, and they work well as powerful transitions, but they tend to look like a gimmick if they appear to often throughout a video.

5: Digital Effects

The digital transition is a very broad category. It’s anything that hasn’t fallen into one of the previous four. They are called digital effects, because they were incredibly difficult to utilize before the advent of digital film. These can be used however they can be, and it is up to you to decide what is right and wrong.

I hope that this made transitions a little clearer, and at least helped to explain the terminology.

Special Effects in Videos

Ever wondered how special effects in movies or even some independent videos are made? The process is generally too complex and situation-dependent to make this a tutorial, especially if you intend to make and use your own custom effects, but I will give the general concept of how it is done. The techniques can be used in the video or independent projects in a simpler way.

The software I will be focusing on is Adobe After Effects. First, here is a video giving a general idea of what After Effects is capable of.

As you can imagine, with a sophisticated set of effects and a lot of work, it is possible to achieve movie-quality special effects with After Effects. However, the first step before trying to insert any effect into a video is to first have the full animation of the special effect you want to achieve. The hardest part would probably be obtaining a special effects animation clean enough to have the background filtered away leaving only the effect behind, otherwise there will be an obvious box surrounding the effect. Many effects can be purchased, but usually they don’t come cheap, and would likely be too much for amateur editors.

Assuming you have a special effect on hand, you now need to import the video into After Effects for use. Just like layering effects on images in Photoshop, a special effect video or animation is layered on top of an existing video. Because videos are much less predictable than static images, it may take a lot of effort keeping the effect in the intended positions across frames, depending on the amount of movement in the original video. In order to make it convincing, filter and mask layers may also need to be added to change the lighting on the effect and hide any parts that may be hidden due to it being behind an existing object in the video.

As an idea, with enough effort and dedication it should be possible to create your own special effects in Photoshop and After Effects itself, but it would require some mad artistic skill if you want a really eye-catching animation. Simple but effective compositions can be made with still images and clever manipulation of transformations within After Effects, but don’t expect huge explosions, lasers, or lightning strikes to happen easily.

Tick Tock – a unique take on a simple concept

What will you do when you know you only have a few minutes left to live? This question is explored in Tick Tock, a short film made by Ien Chi.

First, I will start off with an overview of how the story is presented. Right from the start of the video, it should occur to everyone that something is off about it. The most obvious first cue would be that the clock is ticking backwards. In the next few seconds, you will notice all the sound has a strange echoing, dreamlike quality, as if everything is happening with altered perception. Subtitles are used for all dialogues, even though it would seem that they are speaking English in the first place. Some people may realize it immediately, while others may need time before the situation becomes clear – the entire video is being played backwards. We are taken through the story in reverse time, starting from the final scene and going back through the main character’s desperate attempts to do everything he needs to before he collapses. The viewers are left to piece together the story by themselves, as going through events backwards will definitely lead to some confusion. This technique is really effective in keeping viewers’ attention on the video, as watching the story unravel backwards is really intriguing. In the end, the message of the video is presented through a quote, and did leave an impact on me.

The video is shot from eye level, most probably with the cameraman always running alongside the actor with a handheld camera. This gives the feeling that the viewer is right in the scene with the main character, giving a feeling of closeness with the story. The way the camera is handled makes the illusion that the viewer is next to the character stronger, moving and behaving like a real person would, except that it does not directly interact with the scene.

Another point that gives this video a strong sense of reality and strengthens the closeness of the viewer with the scene is that the entire video appears to be shot with a single take. There are no cuts in the video, but the emphasized sound effects, constant movement of the camera, soundtrack and probably the reversed audio give a sense of urgency that continually draws viewers in. This also gives an idea of how much preparation was needed before shooting the video. Because of the scale and number of actors required, very precise coordination between all actors was likely needed to successfully present the story in one shoot.

Although the concept behind the video is simple – what someone would do if they knew they only had a few minutes left to live, it is presented in a very creative yet simple way, resulting in a video that is interesting and gives a strong impact at the same time.

Narrative Short Film

The title of the short film I will be analyzing is “You Are Loved.

This five minute video tells the story of a young man with a big heart who wants to make everyone feel loved on Valentine’s Day. The film starts off with the man on the floor, counting money, and then taking a trip to the florist to buy 100 roses.  When he gets to the store, he realizes he doesn’t have enough money and sadly walks away.  In the next scene, he is on the floor again creating origami flowers out of paper.  The camera cuts to a calendar displaying February 14th and follows the smiling young man as he gets dressed up and brings the paper flowers to orphans and elderly women on Valentine’s Day.  He is smiling the whole time and so is everyone else around him.  The film ends with the camera panning out on one of the paper flowers, attached to it is a note that says “You are loved.”

Even though this video is short, it is incredibly moving.  The actor playing the young man brings such emotion to his facial expressions that no dialogue is needed to interpret his mood.  The only song that plays throughout the film is “How He Loves Me,” by The Glorious Unseen, which features simple percussion, guitar, and vocals.  Like the film, the song is simple but full of emotion.


Most of the scenes in the film are less than ten seconds long, which keeps the action moving. But the way they fade in and out, and occasionally blur together gives the narrative a slow, gentle rhythm.