Do you remember that feeling you had when you opened Photoshop for the first time? Might have gone a little like this… ‘What kind of witchcraft is this?’ It certainly wasn’t the trusty Microsoft Paint we played with endlessly towards the end of the 90s – eek, children without Twitter and Instagram – we really we’re deprived. Using a new program like Photoshop for the first time can be really intimidating. A million and one options stare back at you, it even appears to be written in it’s own language…
It would be easy for people to be put off learning how to use something new, especially when it appears so dauntingly confusing. I feel like you could spend hours exploring and experimenting with any of the Adobe programs and still find new and interesting ways to use it. My personal favourite is Illustrator but Illustrator can only get you so far… This week I added a new toy to the tool belt – After Effects.
There’s a competition that’s currently running which asks people to create videos and I saw a perfect opportunity to try something new. Up until this point I had previously opened After Effects… stared… shook head… closed and walked away. Yes, AE virgins, it looks pretty intense from the outset. If you’re trying to independently learn something new, looking up videos on YouTube is naturally the way to go.
Looking for the right tutorial or YouTube channel can be a bit of a hit and miss prospect. Sometimes you’ll find exactly what you need; sometimes you’ll have to sift through a few different links to find the perfect fit. Ultimately, I think you should treat it like you would a shopping expedition. Try a few different channels out – each ‘tutor’ has a particular style of explaining and if years of teaching have taught me anything, a matching of personalities can work wonders to your enthusiasm and work ethic.
Once I got the hang of the basics I found myself getting into the swing of things. Something I was wary of was that chronic obsession often shown by teenagers when making PowerPoint presentations… the complete and utter overuse of transition effects! We’ve all seen the slides with the checkerboard, warping and swiping transitions. It’s enough to give you motion sickness.
I think the best thing to come out of introducing myself to After Effects is I now look at Illustrator with new eyes – I’m sure I’ll be looking for opportunities to animate different elements in the future! I’ll share my first AE project soon; I’m just looking at finishing it up as we speak.
Things might appear out of your depth - until you jump into them!