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Book Review: After Effects in Production

Companion book for Creating Motion Graphics a great followup By Stephen Schleicher
After Effects in Production by Chris and Trish MeyerA few years ago I reviewed Trish and Chris Meyer’s book, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects. A few weeks ago I was able to get their follow up tome, After Effects in Production. With so many new people jumping onto the After Effects Bandwagon, I decided to give you some thoughts on this companion book for those Adobe After Effects users who want to learn more.

Trish and Chris are well known in After Effects circles as writers for a well-known magazine in which they highlight their deep knowledge and understanding of all things AE. In addition to writing articles, they teach at the American Film Institute and run their own motion graphics studio, Cybermotion, with such credits as The Talented Mr. Ripley, Now and Then and numerous other projects for ABC, NBC, HBO, FOX, etc. They also often post information and tips in the After Effects Mailing List, which is a wonderful communication resource for AE users around the world.

Like Chris and Trish’s previous work, After Effects in Production is 334 pages of full color information. Why is having a full color book so important? Being able to see highlight and color changes, detailed screenshots, and complex charts and diagrams is important when trying to grasp concepts and examples that are talked about in the book. This book would be terrible in black and white, and the publishers should be commended for going the extra step to make this a full color piece.

Atomic Cafe Tutorial
One of the first tutorials in the book has the reader creating a trippy 60's themed logo
Unlike the previous book, which gave detailed explanations about how After Effects functions and what each feature does, After Effects in Production offers step by step tutorials on how specific effects are achieved. As an added bonus, the reader will also further their knowledge and understanding of how key features of After Effects work by following the process through to completion. This is not a rehash of previous tutorials that have appeared in other places. These tutorials are all fresh and new for this book.

334 pages may not seem long enough contain much/enough information that the twelve tutorials cover. This is simply not true. Every page is packed with clear and concise information, and enough images to ensure that a novice does not get lost. Because Adobe has done such a great job at making both the Mac and Windows versions alike, screenshots are not confusing, and Chris and Trish explain how all keyboard shortcuts for both platforms.

Motion Tracking Tutorial
Those who find Motion Tracking in AE troublesome, will have everything cleared up by reading this book
The book is also full of sidebars, which contain tidbits of information that are invaluable to any AE users (keyboard shortcuts, hidden features, and links to other information). The tutorials cover just about every major feature of After Effects, but specifically focuses on:
    Sequencing Layers
    Time Remapping
    Importing Premier projects as compositions
    Vector Paint
    3D features in AE
    Motion Tracker
    Excellent explanations of 3:2 pulldown
    Luminance Ranges
    How to properly combine multipass renders from a 3D application
    Using Effects
    Exporting for Flash animations

Two of the tutorials are written by guest authors, Alex Lindsay of DV Garage, who talks about using After Effects to and multipass renders, and animator Kristin Harris, who creates children’s animations for Flash output.

If twelve tutorials were not enough to grasp how After Effects can be used effectively in production, the After Effects in Production also contains six chapters of case studies from a variety of production houses. While these are not step by step explanations of how each of these spots were created in After Effects, enough detail is given for the reader to deduce the necessary steps for themselves.

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After Effects in Production also comes with a CD-ROM that contains all of the tutorial projects and elements as well as project files for each of the case studies. There are also several bonus tutorials that just couldn’t fit in the book. Probably the most valuable for AE users are the Hidden Gems and templates that Chris and Trish have included. Another excellent addition is the expressions section written by JJ Gifford. JJ is constantly updating the content for this information and you can find those updates at To fully pack the CD-ROM, a tryout version of AE 5.0 is included, as well as several free plug-ins from Boris FX, Pinnacle Systems, Media 100, The Foundry and Trapcode.

If you got a lot of valuable information for Creating Motion Graphics and refer to it regularly, then After Effects in Production will be the second most referenced AE book on your self. I give this book a DMN Strong Buy Recommendation.

Stephen Schleicher is the producer for Digital WebCast and Digital Animators. You can reach him at [email protected]

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (, where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleâ??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnâ??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at [email protected]

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