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Share your After Effects looks quick and easy

How easy (and quick) it is to share your After Effects looks By Kevin McAuliffe

As we all know, Adobe's After Effects is the premier tool for motion graphic artists and editors in television and film today. When you have a large company with many editors/motion graphics artists, you find yourself creating and sharing effects and "looks" on an almost daily basis. For most people, the process for sharing their "looks" consists of saving an animation preset, and either passing it across a network where someone will import (open) it and start to work with it, or if you are sharing it with users across the world (like I will be with this tutorial), I would save the preset off, attach it to an e-mail and send it off to someone who would download the attachment, then open it in After Effects so you, the end user, can see the excellent "look" I created. Man, there has to be an easier way to do this, and there is! I'm going to create a glow in After Effects, and I'm going to show you how easy (and quick) it should be to share your After Effects "looks."

Like I said before, I'm going to create a glow effect using the standard After Effects "Glow," which can be found under EFFECT>STYLIZE>GLOW. To start, we need something to apply our "glow" to, so I'm going to use something very original. My name! Remember, you could conceivably use any clip, text or element when working with this tutorial. Next, let's apply our Glow effect, and give it a cool "look."

I'm pretty happy with how it looks, and in most tutorials, I would now go on to explain exactly how I created it, but since I want you to be able to use this right now as you are reading this, I'm actually going to paste the effect right into this article. I know that may sound pretty bizarre, but stay with me, as it is very, very cool. Ok, for this to work, the first thing I have to do is apply a keyframe in my timeline to each one of the parameters I adjusted, which are:

Glow Threshold
Glow Radius
Glow Intensity
Glow Colors
Color A
Color B

Once I have added the keyframes, I'm going to press the "U" key so After Effects only shows me the parameters of my effect that have keyframes. Next, select all your keyframes by lassoing them, and press CMD+C (CNTL+C on Windows) to copy them. Now, let's say for arguments sake, you want to e-mail this effect to your friend. Simply open your e-mail application, and in the body of the e-mail, press CMD+V (CNTL+V on Windows) to paste the effect, and look at what happens. Your keyframe information has been pasted like a text document right into the body of your e-mail (or Word document, or where ever you pasted it). Take a look below at my effect.

Now I can e-mail this to a friend or colleague for them to use in their After Effects comp. Now I know that the first question everyone will ask is "How do I get that information back into After Effects?" It's very easy, simply select the text from the first line "Adobe After Effects 8.0 Keyframe Data" all the way to the last line "End of Keyframe Data" and copy it with CMD+C (CNTL+C on Windows), and then in After Effects, simply select the clip you want to apply it to, and press CMD+V (CNTL+V on Windows). Voila! You don't even need to tell After Effects which effect it is, as it already knows from the keyframe data we just copied and pasted. The great thing with this technique is that it works with any effect in After Effects including any third party plug-ins you might be using. One last thing to keep in mind is that the keyframe data is forwards compatible by copying and pasting. To move from a current version of After Effects to a previous one (i.e. - AE CS3 to AE 7), you will need to change the "Adobe After Effects 8.0 Keyframe Data" line to read "Adobe After Effects 7.0 Keyframe Data". This trick is another way to share those really cool effects you spent so much time working on quick and easy!

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

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