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Jim Harvey reviews After Effects for Windows and Macintosh by Anthony Bolante

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Jim Harvey reviews After Effects for Windows and Macintosh by Anthony Bolante

A Creative COW Book Review

Jim Harvey reviews After Effects for Windows and Macintosh by Anthony Bolante

Jim Harvey Jim Harvey
JHV Digital
New York, USA

©Copyright 2004 Jim Harvey and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved
Article Focus:
In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey reviews After Effects 6.5 for Windows and Macintosh by Anthony Bolante and published by Peachpit Press, 736 pages, Published Sep 22, 2004; Copyright 2005,
ISBN: 032119957X. "Anthony Bolante knows After Effects. Let me revise that, Anthony Bolante knows virtually everything there is to know about After Effects! This book is 700 plus pages of the inner workings, nuts and bolts of possibly the best compositing and effects program ever made (yes, I'm prejudiced). Think of this book as one of the definitive reference works ever published on the subject, and owner's manual if you will..."

After Effects for Windows and Macintosh by Anthony BolanteAfter Effects 6.5 for Windows and Macintosh by Anthony Bolante is NOT a creative work. By that I mean there aren't any High Zoot tutorial sections that will show you how to make an open for the nightly news, or how to create killer demo reels. There isn't a companion CD with lots of project files for the reader to open and work through in order to see how a particular composition is constructed. What this book does is cover virtually every single tool and process available to you in after effects and then explain exactly how to use it. The creativity will still have to come from your own brain, but the tools to convey your creativity will have been expertly described and explained.

That said, the book takes us step by step into the process of working with After Effects and the various means of getting our footage into the program and then manipulating the footage and compositions through the use of the available tools provided by Adobe. From the beginning, Bolante gives clear and accurate advice on how to deal with still images, alpha channels, and importing Photoshop and Illustrator files into AE as either footage or composition and explains the difference. This will help new users begin to understand what is going on in the program and how the program can relate to the files that are imported. Good solid basic structure.

The book is up to date enough to cover 24P video as well. This is still a bit of a 'weird science' area for a lot of people. If you are toying with the idea of shooting 24P, this book will give you at least a basic to intermediate understanding of how AE will be able to work with your footage. Some good advice on your audio as well when working with 24P.

If you were to read this book conventionally (from front to back) and work out all the explanations, I would venture to say that your understanding of AE would increase dramatically. Even those who are experts with AE would find something in this book that might make them say "Ah HA!" Bolante really dissects AE down to the core components. Every tool in the toolkit is gone over and explained with accompanying mini exercises. Each chapter deals with another aspect of AE and tears it down to the basics of the how's and why's. With 18 chapters in the book that take us from the initial import of our file to the final output of the project, the mysteries of AE are stripped away and the nuts and bolts are explained in a very non technical and non threatening manner. I particularly enjoyed chapter 12's discussion of animating text. It covers almost every little nuance of manipulating your text to perform the magic that you want. Formatting, fonts, fills, scale, kerning. All are covered and explained clearly. Throughout the book, the author drops little tips that will either make it easier for you to remember something or a little trick to utilize a specific tool or technique. (I love Tips & Tricks and this book has lots of them)

One of the nice things about a book like this is that you aren't confined or constrained to read it in a linear fashion. You can jump around and scan sections to see the parts of the program that interest you and concentrate on those sections rather than having to read 1..2..3.. in order to understand the flow. Each chapter stands on its own merit and can be taken as a "mini lesson" to help you work through the learning curve of AE.

The only real complaint that I had with this book was that the section on Expressions was a little light. Although Bolante DOES go through the expressions section and provides some insight into the actual use of them, I would have liked to see some more in depth examples. I think that expressions are perhaps the one thing that most AE users are still uncertain of. A few more pages would have been a good thing.

In Conclusion

Buy it Button
I give After Effects for Windows and Macintosh by Anthony Bolante 4 cows. All in all, Bolante's book is another example of something that should be on your shelf. If for nothing more than a clear and very complete reference work that you can occasionally refer to, in order to refresh those stagnant brain cells. Beginners will benefit from the clear writing, and step-by-step format. More experienced users may find the book a little tedious as a sit down and read it book, but as a reference, it would be hard to beat.

COW RATING: 4 COWS A good solid text..


©Copyright 2004 Jim Harvey | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


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