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Aaron Fisher reviews: After Effects H

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Aaron Fisher reviews: After Effects HOT (Hands-On Training) for After Effects 5.0 & 5.5
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review



Aaron Fisher reviews: After Effects H•O•T (Hands-On Training) for After Effects 5.0 & 5.5
Aaron Fisher
Aaron Fisher

Cox Media Kansas, USA

©2003 Aaron Fisher and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Aaron Fisher reviews: After Effects H•O•T (Hands-On Training) for After Effects 5.0 & 5.5 and published by Peachpit Press. Aaron concludes with, ''If you're a beginner wanting to quickly get up to speed on this great program, this is the book for you.''


Click on the graphic to purchase at amazon.comAfter Effects H•O•T (Hands-On Training) for After Effects 5.0 & 5.5 is a CD-ROM accompanied book designed to teach After Effects to the beginner. The book is a series of step-by-step lessons, each focusing on specific aspects of the program. The chapters are well organized, and each is accompanied by projects included on the CD-ROM that are easy to follow. Also included on the disc are five short video training movies. They range anywhere from 55 seconds to just over four minutes, and cover some points of After Effects that are hard to convey with words.

The book starts out with brief explanations of some video basics such as defining “animation” & “compositing”, explaining what makes up digital images, and the differences between After Effects and non-linear editors. Then it get “hands-on”, as the reader can load the projects for each chapter, and follow along with the book. The chapters cover some of the more newbie-confusing topics such as expressions, 3d, time remapping, and render settings. The chapter on effects only covers a few specific effects, but does a nice job of covering how effects work in general.

I don't have many negative things to say about this book, but there are a few things that stuck out to me. The biggest disadvantage with this book is that it is printed in black and white. I don't know if this hinders the reader’s learning, because AE’s interface is very monochromatic, so color screenshots most likely would not serve as a helpful reference. However, I have a problem with any book covering graphics (or the software used to produce them) that isn't printed in color. At the very least, I think the absence of color can lead to some early boredom for those with less-than-average attention spans.

I was disappointed with the complete lack of “goodies” on the accompanying CD-ROM (although a free AE 5.5 Tryout is included). We all love free stuff, and the addition of at least a few demo plug-ins or effects favorites would have been welcome. Finally, one minor point of annoyance was that all the screenshots were taken on Mac OS 9. The authors explain that they started writing the book before AE 5.5 came out (version 5.0 does not run on OSX), but for me, staring at the ugly OS 9 interface is a painful reminder of the past!

The things that I found exceptional about this book were its organization, and the general flow and teaching methodology of the book. Everything is explained in a logical order, and each chapter builds on knowledge gained from the previous ones. The tests at the end of each chapter are a good way to quickly refresh yourself on what you've just learned (if you have a test-o-phobia, you can always skip them). I believe that this book can teach After Effects to anyone, no matter if he or she has been struggling with the program for a year, or just opened the box.




Conclusion
If you're a beginner wanting to quickly get up to speed on this great program, this is the book for you.
I give After Effects H•O•T (Hands-On Training) for After Effects 5.0 & 5.5 3 1/2 Cows!


Aaron Fisher
4/11/03



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