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John Dickinson's AE Techniques By Ko Maruyama
Toolfarm, a portal known historically for its collection of plugin sales for motion graphic and design software, has started offering a collection of tutorials.  Authored by long-time After Effects pro, John Dickinson, the walkthroughs are more than simple steps to producing a project.  Creative Background Design tutorials are premium online lessons.

Now I can't claim to be unbiased.  John Dickinson is a fantastic guy.  Anyone who has met him can agree.  Knowledgeable, willing to help, hard working and creative, John is known to many in the professional After Effects community.  John has taken express care to produce a top-of-the-line series of downloadable tutorials.

Having looked at, and had created a few tutorials myself, I can safely say that I can appreciate what kind of preparation and work goes into making a tutorial.    These video tutorials are excellent and will appeal to a wide range of users; from beginner to advanced - the training imparts a steady and even explanation of several levels of process.

More than just the simple lesson captured on screen, Creative Background Design features chapter marks embedded in the QuickTime movie, allowing viewers to jump to various sections of the instruction.

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During the video presentation, the cursor movement and value manipulation is easy to follow, with visual aid to help the audience to follow.

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There are other parts of the tutorial where John has made custom interface pop-up windows, which at times contain important information describing an action, or contain values for parameters whose windows do not fit neatly on screen by themselves.

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Accompanying the lesson movie, each download comes with additional materials, including documentation and project files.    In the documentation you'll find information about what elements are included in the download package as well as a PDF explaining the major points of the lesson.  The overview is uniquely helpful for those who like to read along with the lesson, or print out the materials for reference later on.

The first lesson, Basic Fractal Loop, is currently available for free at  I  strongly recommend it for all After Effects users.    These lessons are especially important for those After Effects artists who have learned the basics, and are looking to add more tricks to their arsenal.   To seasoned users, these lessons are a time-saver, containing timelessly useful tricks as well as the whole project itself.  You won't spend time reproducing the steps - the entire project is intact.

  At  $5.00 (US) each, these tutorials won't break anyone's bank.  Furthermore, special coupons packaged with the lesson can help you to save up to $47 (US) on selected software from ToolFarm.

A version of the first tutorial that will include Japanese subtitles is planned for the near future.

The second lesson, "Award Night" is available now, and contains more great tips and tricks.  The third lesson, "Venetian Blocks" will release in August.

You can purchase the lessons (or download the free versions when available) directly from Toolfarm by clicking here.

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:ToolFarm, Plugins, Tutorial After Effects, Creative Background Design, John Dickinson, Ko Maruyama, Lessons


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