Video Tutorial: 5 Crucial Tips for After Effects Beginners

New to After Effects? No idea what you’re doing? Check out these 5 tips about the program to get started on the right track.

When you first start using After Effects, it can feel like learning a completely foreign language. Every button and all the layouts are so vastly different than any other editing program you’ve used, and it can be daunting to figure out how everything works. Thankfully, Todd Blankenship over at Shutterstock Tutorials has laid out the 5 things you need to know when getting started in After Effects, and once you learn those, it’s all downhill.

1. Motion Blur

Video Tutorial: 5 Crucial Tips for After Effects Beginners — Motion Blur

When you add motion to your animation, does it look blocky and unrealistic? That might be because you don’t have motion blur turned on. Motion blur adds a faint tail-image to your animation that smoothes out the motion and mimics how cameras capture motion in the real world.

To turn on motion blur for your layer, click the three-circle button on the top of your timeline. This will enable a clickable box on your layers with the same logo. Click that box to enable motion blur for that layer. If you want to customize the amount of motion blur in your project, go to Composition > Composition Settings. From there, click the Advanced tab, and you will be able to adjust the shutter angle either up or down for more or less motion blur.

2. Keyframes

Video Tutorial: 5 Crucial Tips for After Effects Beginners — Keyframes

Keyframes are the building blocks of After Effects. They are the language you use to tell the program when and where to do what. When you put two keyframes onto anything in your composition, After Effects will automatically connect those two positions by creating the information between them.

There are easy ways to manipulate keyframes. For example, if you want to move your keyframes in your timeline without having to move each one individually, you can highlight all of them with your cursor and drag them through the composition. To compress or expand your keyframes, you can hold the alt key with the keyframes selected and manipulate the timing of the sequence while keeping the relative timing the same.

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