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Sean Cusson reviews After Effects 6.5 On the Spot: Time-Saving Tips and Shortcuts from the Pros

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Sean Cusson reviews After Effects 6.5 On the Spot: Time-Saving Tips and Shortcuts from the Pros
A Creative COW Book Review



Sean Cusson reviews After Effects 6.5 on the Spot
Sean Cusson
Q media design
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

© 2004 Sean Cusson and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
In this article,
Sean Cusson takes a look at After Effects 6.5 On the Spot: Time-Saving Tips and Shortcuts from the Pros by Richard Harrington, Rachel Max, Marcus Geduld, CMP Books and concludes "... even a seasoned After Effects Artist can find quite a few new tricks from this one." Read Sean's complete report to find out if you should get this book.


Picture this.

You're sitting at your computer, staring at the blank workspace you've just created in After Effects when someone walks in to your office, pulls up a chair and says “Wanna see something cool? Try this….”

And then your friend proceeds to teach you 4 or 5 little tricks that actually stay with you. Practical things like hitting Alt + Home (Option-HOME) while a layer is selected will send its in point to the beginning of the timeline, or that J and K will allow you to travel back and forth between keyframes. Leaving you thinking “Why didn't I know that already? I've got to write this down! I know I'm going to forget this.”. But you don't write it down and yet somehow it still stays with you. You're now hitting Alt+Home as naturally as you would hit Ctrl+C and then Ctrl-V (which is copying and pasting for those of you who may be scratching your head). Well that's what my experience with this book was like. I have at least 10 more favorite keystrokes and a cleared off spot on my desk where this book will be sitting for quite a while.

First things first. How much? The After Effects 6 On the Spot: Time-Saving Tips and Shortcuts from the Pros came in at 38.95 CAN / 27.95 US / 19.99 UK, which is pretty affordable when you consider what you walk away with after having read it. Most of the books I buy are around 70.00 CAN so I was happy to give my bank account a bit of a break (I think my wife was too).

Cons: I'll get this part out of the way right now. The gripes. I only have a couple.

1. B&W images. I know this is done to keep the price down but frankly, I would have paid the extra $ for some color. As well, at times the images were so small that the content became difficult to read.

2. Spelling and grammatical errors. I have a real problem with this. I don't know what the proofreading process is before something goes to Press but someone dropped the ball a bit on this one.

Pros: And now for the praise.

Aside from the above mentioned issues, I thought this was a great book. As someone who's been using After Effects for at least 5 years, I've become pretty efficient with the software. I can think my way through most design challenges, and the ones I can't, I know are probably addressed in some wonderful book, misfiled in the wrong section of some fantastic Latte infested bookstore. This is not that magic book. After Effects 6 On the Spot: Time-Saving Tips and Shortcuts from the Pros, in my opinion, is much more useful because it's “Packed with over 400 techniques.” to take a quote directly from the back cover.

Each page can contain anywhere from 1 to 4 tips. With simple titles like “Centering Text Around a Point” and “Keylight: You Don't need a Ph.D.”, I was pulled in pretty quickly. I found myself resisting the urge to just skim through the pages until something caught my eye. Instead, I sat at my desk with After Effects running and felt compelled to go through each and every tip, afraid to miss anything and wondering how I was going to remember it all. Now, like many books of this nature, a lot of the tips were fairly basic. I say this since most users know that Ctrl-R will show Rulers and Ctrl-N creates a new composition.


SUMMARY:

At the risk of sounding elitist, even a seasoned After Effects Artist can find quite a few new tricks from this one. A lot of the tips include working with Photoshop, Illustrator and even Encore DVD. There's a great section on expressions which even includes a few sample scripts. Overall my experience with this book was a good one.

I give it 4 out of 5 cows. If not for the gripes, I would have given it a 4.5











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