7 basic things you should know as a beginner in After Effects

7 basic things you should know as a beginner in After Effects

Here I come with the few points you should know while opening the After Effects panel for the first time.

1 – Check the configuration of the system on which you are using After Effects

After Effects is a heavy application in itself that the specifications of your system matters a lot.
I personally used AE on Mac of 4 GB RAM in the starting of my learning phase. But after some time when I started to do heavy projects, I shifted my system and went for Windows having 32 GB RAM. It depends on the size of the components of your project. Either you are running scripts inside your project or you are importing so many compositions in it, then definitely this will lead to slow rendering process and in the next step AE may lead to an error “After Effects : cached preview needs 2 or more frames to playback

So here is quick tip:

If you are just learning AE for small projects

  1. Which do not contain moving characters
  2. Which do not contain so many precomps
  3. Which do not use complex templates

then may be you can run your projects on systems containing 4GB/8GB RAM.

But if you are using After Effects for making professional, heavy videos then you need to work on your system configuration.

Quick tip :

If you have read this already

System requirements

Then please do read

Recommended Systems for Adobe After Effects .

This is somewhat complex but you might find it helpful. Now we will move to the next point..

2 – Importing illustrator files into After Effects

The next problem you might face while learning After Effects is that you do not know Illustrator and you are quite afraid of designing the elements as well.
Don’t worry my friend. I went thru the same problem initially. Then I came to know that freepik provides illustrations for free. But the only condition is you have to give attribution. If you are just learning the AE panel then it is okay to use them and animate them. But if you are using them on your site or in commercial videos then you have to give them attribution.
The next problem is how to start animating in AE if you download any vector file from Freepik or from any other site.
You can read it from here 

If you already know this then you can skip this.

3 – Learn some basic tools like pen tool and shape tool

The next thing is you need to have the detail information about the pen tool and shape tool.
If you are not the illustrator person then you can try to create basic shapes by using shape tool and pen tool.

You can watch some good YouTube videos for that like
After Effects Tools
Shape tool & Pen tool
Or else you can read articles like
After Effects Tools
mask vs shape layer

4 – Get some mandatory plugins

Download some necessary plugins like motion v2, Animation Composer.

Motion v2 is very helpful in dealing with keyframes and is super duper helpful plugin to organise your project.

I recommend to have Animation Composer which is a very helpful to motion designers.
It contains Motion Presets, Precomps, Sound Effects, Keyframe Wingman, Anchor Point Mover, Transition Shifter and a lot of other useful options.

5 – Learn some important AE Shortcuts

You should know some After Effects Shortcuts as,

1. For transforming the elements(for keyframing) :

A – Anchor Point
P – Position
S – Scale
R – Rotation
T – Opacity

2. General Shortcuts

F9 – Keyframe Easy Ease

J & K – Jumping between keyframes (from one keyframe to the next)

UU – See all the keyframes

* – Adding markers to the timeline

Shift+ F3 – Display Graph Editor

opt+cmd+home – Centre the anchor point of shape layers

U – For viewing all the keyframes of position/scale/rotation/opacity/anchor point

You can learn remaining shortcuts here.

6 – Organise your AE Project

Organizing the folder structure is very necessary though no one but you are going to handle it in future.
It is like the organized bookshelf. You will find a particular book from bookshelf if it is well organized. Otherwise it will kill your time.

You can organize your project by precomposing the layers and naming them properly.
The motion v2 plugin will help you in cleaning your project panel.
Creating folders and sub folders will really help in organizing the project.
Here are some videos in which they have described organizing your workspace in AE.
Organising Your Workspace in After Effects
After Effects: The Ultimate Organization Guide
Maintaining Good After Effects Project Organization and Workflow

7 – Get Motivated….

If you are totally familiar with the above mentioned points then it is time to create some funky animations…right?
But from where to start?
Okay….I recommend, you go and visit the YouTube channel of Mt. Mograph, Ross Plaskow, MOBOX GRAPHICS.
They have some amazing videos and tutorials there!
You can play with the same videos first and then can create brand new videos using your own creativity.

I might extend this article if I find some more points to share for the beginners.

PS: If you find this article really helpful, help others by a like and share. Your sweet, valuable comments will be appreciated 😉

Cheers 🙂

Quick Tip: Replacing Imported Illustrator layers

Quick Tip: Replacing Imported Illustrator layers

Here is the quick answer to the query that is very often for those who are quite familiar with After Effects i.e. replacing imported Illustrator layers in After Effects.

While I was dealing with one of my projects, I wanted to import some AI files from my other project which I had created a couple of weeks back. But the illustration I wanted to import wasn’t a single AI file. It was a composition with a lot of AI layers. So I needed the whole composition containing AI layers for my current project. It is easy to import it. But the toughest part is to change or replace some layers of that composition with the newly formed AI layers keeping the keyframes unchanged. Furthermore, I wanted to replace all my imported illustrator files in one shot rather than selecting each individual file/layer. I was getting frustrated as it consumed my 2 to 3 hours.

Steps to replace Layers keeping keyframes unchanged:

And now what I can say about this requirement is you have to replace them layer by layer. For that have a look at the steps mentioned below :

#1 You have to import your previous illustration as a composition in your new project.

#2 Bring that composition inside your work area/timeline.

#3 Open up the project panel inside which you have the newly created illustration and the layers of it.

#4 Now click and drag the layer of the newly created illustration while pressing the option key (if you are using MAC) or Alt key (if you are using PC).

#5 And drop it on the top of the selected layer in the timeline.

Now you can see the original layer is replaced by the new layer.

It will not change the keyframes. And the newly replaced layer will have the same keyframes as the original layer.

Here is the quick demo of how to execute above mentioned steps.So please have a look.

If you are using Images or Flat Photoshop/AI files you can try to replace footage from the project panel. It will be updated without affecting the animation you have created.

Here is the demo of how to replace a layer from the project panel.

I know this is not the detailed post talking about the path and the footage. But at least it tells you about the quicker way to work with the replacement of  any illustration containing layers.

I hope this article  helped you and  saved your valuable time. If you find this quick tip useful then please don’t forget to mention it in the comment box below and  try to share this post with others to save their time and energy as well 😉

Have a wonderful day!

Steps to Sharpen the Blurred Adobe Illustrator Vector Files in After Effects

Steps to Sharpen the Blurred Adobe Illustrator Vector Files in After Effects

Blurred or Pixelated images inside a video may spoil the effort. If the illustration created in Adobe Illustrator (AI) was not properly imported inside Adobe After Effects, such scenario may happen.

Adobe After Effects is a pixel based platform whereas Illustrator is vector based. To keep the vector images sharp inside the After Effects, it is important to follow the following steps. These steps will make sure the vector image (.ai) files are sharp and not blurred in the final rendered video produced out of AE.

Import Lossless AI Files in After Effects

Step #1 Import the .ai file in After Effects. If the .ai file contains layers, then you need to import as a composition and not a footage

Import illustrator file with layers in after effects

Step #2 Drag the AI file (Or a composition containing the AI layers ) in composition.

Import illustrator file in after effects

Step #3 Select Continuously Rasterizeoption which looks like the sun.

If you can’t see these options you’ll need to press the “Toggle Switches / Modes” button at the bottom of the window.

continuously rasterize option in after effcets

If the composition is containing AI layers then make sure to select “Continuously Rasterize” for all the layers inside that composition. Most of the video producers forget it but is very important for keeping the vectors sharp and not blurry.

continuously rasterize option in after effcets

Now you can scale the vector inside After Effects without loosing the quality. This method works for all types of vector files including PDF, EPS, AI etc.

If the vector image inside the AE is still not sharp and appearing  blurry, check the following points and make sure you follow these.

Cases and Scenarios

#1 If you have applied any effects like Shadow, blur in AI file that will overwrite your “Continuously Rasterize” option. First of all remove all those effects and after importing .ai files in after effects you can apply their counterparts in AE. If the problem is about rasterization, then edges would be jagged, not just blurry.

#2 AI document should be in RGB format and not in CMYK (really Basic, but Important) .

#3 If you are viewing the composition at half, third or quarter resolution then you may find your AI files Blur.

#4 There can be hidden, unnoticed adjustment layer or effect acting on the vector layer.

#5 If you have set any transparency to a particular object in AI and you are using it in AE, you may find it blur .

#6 When you zoom in the illustrator ,you may find it blur. But it is normal.When you scale a layer with continuous rasterization, the vector information is converted into a new set of pixels to make things sharp. When you just zoom in a preview, you’re not actually changing any pixels in the composition; you’re just zooming in on the existing pixels for a closer look.This apparent pixelation for zooms does not affect scaling of layers or rendering to final output. 

So if you are creating an animation with character vector image taken out of Illustrator, and seeing the image blurred in the final video, follow these steps.

If you find this article helpful or you have some other cases and their solution then please mention them in the comment below.

Solved – Error “After Effects : cached preview needs 2 or more frames to playback”

Solved – Error “After Effects : cached preview needs 2 or more frames to playback”

I am not the Pro in After effects right now and it is true but as a beginner I can tell you guys, this error really made me sick. I kept getting error message as “After Effects error: cached preview needs 2 or more frames to playback” while seeing the preview of the project. It took me hours to fix the error and after reading on different forums and trying different possibilities, I came up with the following solutions. I hope they will help you too.

List of Solutions for After Effects Error

#1 First I tried to Purge the different memories (Edit -> Purge ->All Memory and Disk Cache then purge image cache memory). It may work for few cases, but for my case, it didn’t work. Well, you can try this step anyway.

#2 Then go to Preferences -> Media & Disk Cache -> Choose the option Empty Disk Cache and Clean Database and Cache. Probably this will do the disappearing of blue line which you can see while rendering the comp.

Next Step,

#3 One important thing but really ignored is that you should check the Work Area Bar whether it is covering the area of your Comp which you want to Preview.

#4 Check your system configuration as Heavy Projects in After effects need more RAM (sysmet memory) to render. You can find a helpful article on this with precise information about After Effects System Requirements for Mac OS and Windows
#5 Try to minimize the preview quality of your Footage. This is not a required step but it will help in rendering the footage media.

#6 Check out the alloted RAM memory given to the After Effects Application from the complete system RAM. You can see it by going to After Effects -> Preferences -> Memory

#7 Confirm that all heavy applications are closed while working with After Effects if you have crunch of RAM.
#8 Make sure that you are using Latest Version Of After Effects.
#9 Keep an eye on the working of your Chrome Browser if it is running some applications in the background.That will slow down the working of AE.

This Solution Worked For Me

#10 Last But not the least is that allow Dynamic link manager access through your firewall.

For Mac users

  • Go to the folder “/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Common/”.
  • Inside that folder right-click and select the File -> Get Info
  • Then make sure that the Lock icon which is present at the bottom right corner is not activated.And after deactivation ,it will ask for the system login details (username and password). Put there the information asked.
  • Slightly scroll down and you can see the permissions.Change the permission to read and write for the current user.
  • Below that select the small “sun-shaped” setting icon and select “Apply to enclosed items”
  • At the end re-lock the folder.

As I am using After Effects on Mac, I can share some pictures of How-tos

For Windows OS

Here is the step by step solution.

  • Navigate to the folder “C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\”
  • Then right-click it to access its “Properties” menu.
  • Select  the “Security” tab and grant your current user “Full Control” of the folder.

I am quite confident about these solutions as it worked for me and solved the error message “After Effects : cached preview needs 2 or more frames to playback”. I can assure that one or the other will help you get rid of this error. If this article helped you, please share it with your friends and colleagues. Off course if you have other solution for this error, you can post it in comment so that it will be useful for other readers.