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An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks

CreativeCOW presents An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks -- Adobe After Effects Feature


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It may surprise some to know that I didn't actually start using After Effects until CS3 -- and I was past 40, proving that you can teach new tricks to old dogs!!

My background up to that point had been writing, recording and production for radio using what was then 'Cool Edit' and later became Adobe Audition. I started to transfer from just sound to moving picture by using Premiere Pro, which I quickly fell in love with.

But then, I realised that there was another piece of software that was even more powerful than Premiere Pro and - to be honest - was a complete mystery to me because I needed to 'Cross the Rubicon' of understanding the difference between editing and compositing!


AE Ray Tracer
AE Ray Tracer


To be honest, what started me learning and using After Effects was pure curiosity. It quickly became apparent that there were some very powerful tools to help take my video work to a whole new level especially with things like Chroma keying with Keylight and animated motion graphics - which started to push my use of After Effects.

I didn't fall in love with After Effects quite as fast as I did with Premiere Pro mainly because I started by (for quite a long time) sitting in front of the UI shouting at both it and myself for not knowing which tool to use and where the blinking tool was in the first place!! It didn't take long to realise that knowledge is king with AE. The more you know the tools, the more you can do, and that time invested in learning its powerful features quickly pays back.

When you get over the whole 'knowing the tools' issue and you just get to using the software, creative opportunities seem to find you, be they your own projects or a special need that arises with another project others are working on. What it has meant for me, bearing in mind that I now mainly teach rather than do a great deal of production, is that I'm allowed to be more of a creative problem-solver, although usually more as a consultant than the final editor, allowing others to run with alternative solutions.


AE Global performance cache
AE CS6's Global Performance Cache


MAKING TUTORIALS
How did I get into making tutorials? The short answer is by chance.

The longer answer starts with my own learning process. Like most people, once I started with After Effects I went out of my way to watch as many tutorials as I could and get my hands on any books that looked like they'd be helpful. Some of those books were indeed helpful but others were beyond me and ended up thrown to the back of the bookshelf to gather dust.

I quickly learnt that I'm a visual learner in that I tend to learn best from video tutorials rather than books. I also learnt that once I had a handle on something I would happily spend time playing with it and getting to grips with what it can do in general and also in my own work. I also found myself asking the question, "What's the best way to teach this to others?"

I quickly found out that there are two basic types of video tutorials available for After Effects. The first is the type I found most helpful, what could be called the 'show & tell' type of tutorials. They simply explain the tools and show you how to use them. These are by far the most valuable to me and, unfortunately, also the most rare.

The second is what I call the "whizz-bang" type of tutorial, where an expert rushes through a complex technique and you sit there in awe as you watch but can't really follow along. Or, you can follow, but only to re-create what they've done without really seeing how the techniques can translate into your own projects.

The real power for learning After Effects is in being able to translate techniques you've learnt to solve your own problems, so while these 'whizz-bang' tutorials make good eye-candy and can give some help, I quickly found that I didn't have enough time to spend watching to many of these.

Again, rather through chance, as I started to progress in my use of After Effects I was encouraged to become an After Effects Adobe Certified Instructor (ACI) to go alongside my Premiere Pro qualification. I worked hard to get that, and I achieved it towards the end of the CS3 cycle.


Andrew has produced hundreds of tutorials for Creative COW for After Effects, Premiere Pro and Adobe Encore.
At that time I felt that the "Classroom In A Book" didn't reflect how I wanted to learn After Effects, so I opted to create my own classroom training course, which has been the basis of the way I teach After Effects ever since: teaching my students how to use the tools, which they can apply to any projects they have to deal with.

My next problem was that, as a fairly new trainer based in the North of the UK rather than near London (where most of the work is), I didn't actually have a great deal of training work. So, while working on projects, I also started to look for other products that I could teach to try and get more training work. This led me to contact a UK reseller (who shall remain nameless) of Techsmith's excellent Camtasia Studio to ask, if I were to buy the product and learn how to use it, could they use me as a trainer? Up until the point that I actually parted with my money they were very encouraging. Once I had parted with my money, though, they didn't want to hear from me!

Initially I was pretty angry, but then I realised that I had everything I needed to start to produce my own video tutorials. I had Camtasia Studio to do all my screen captures, I had all the latest Adobe products to teach, and I had my own courseware, which I was constantly refining in class with my students as they asked questions, and I learned more myself.

At first it didn't occur to me to post any tutorials on the COW, because I simply didn't think I would be able to produce anything of that quality, or that my work would be of any value. I guess you quickly forget just how far you've come on your own journey as you learn a product.

So to start with, I produced some tutorials and put them up on YouTube. When I later got in contact with the COW to ask if they thought my tutorials would be of any help, they asked for the tutorials to be exclusive to the COW. So I took them down from YouTube, and was simply amazed at how many more views I got than I had gotten on YouTube! This in turn encouraged me to put up more tutorials, and I am pleased to say that they are continuing to be viewed, making me want to produce even more!

Lastly, since starting on Creative COW I have at times felt a little like a fraud, especially as I now spend most of my time training rather than in production. This has made me wonder how credible I am. I talked to another COW leader about how I felt, considering him to be far wiser and more experienced than me. His response was really helpful: "We're all fakes! We all only know what we know, and there will always be people who know far more than we do. But that shouldn't stop you sharing what you do know, and helping others to grow in their knowledge."

And so to Adobe for all their products and especially After Effects, Creative COW and you -- thank you!







Comments

Re: An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by Michele Klinkman
Hello Andrew,

I watched most of your tutorials on Encore Basics and was able to make a vacation DVD (something I have wanted to do for a long time). Now I am finishing the Premiere Pro Basic series because I want to make a version for android with chapters. I can't tell you how much I have learned and how very appreciative I am! After I finish the Premiere Pro series, I am going to move right on to your After Effects Basics series.

I wanted to mention that I almost NEVER come across a teacher that is so thorough and that speaks in terms that are very easy to understand. I am a musician/composer (in a band called Treesome) and want to make professional music videos as soon as possible for my creations. I have a vast knowledge of all sorts of digital musical equipment (including midi based devices) and sound engineering techniques. I am currently using Cakewalk Pro Audio (newest version is Sonair) for recording and was wondering how it stands up to Adobe Audition.

Last but not least, I am also a computer power user and have a degree in programming. I primarily use my programming skills for navigation techniques on all of my websites as for now. I do however, and always have had a strong interest in flash as well. I have read that Samsung currently uses Action Script for all of their TV apps.

So I wanted to do a HUGE THANK YOU for your outstanding training. If there are any more training series that you offer and think I may be interested in, please let me know.

Again thank you so very much and god bless :)

Michele
Re: An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by Clay Couch
Andrew,
If you are a fake, then God knows the rest of us are totally screwed :). Andrew you teach the tools and techniques that will stay with us for as long as we use the software they apply too. The whiz bang tut makers, who show us how to composite ourselves inside of Avatar teaches us nothing, other than a great way to waste 2 hours of our lives. However if they detailed the tools required and the techniques to use those tools in "Andrew Devis Detail" then ya it would be a great whiz bang tut, but guess what? If it did that, it wouldn't be in the category of whiz bang now would it? :)

I have always loved your tutorials, you are as excellent in your delivery as you are in depth, with the tools that you teach. It would be great if you could come to our Creative Summit in Atlanta thats coming up. Maybe you could speak with Walter Biscardi about it? I would love to meet you and would absolutely go through a workshop if you put one on!

Best wishes moving forward !



Clay Couch
@Clay Couch
by Andrew Devis
Hi Clay

Thank you for your encouragement, I do sometimes wonder if people get a little frustrated that I can take a while to get to a point. However, if I do take a while it is usually because I'm trying to explain something first - at least I hope so ...

As for the summit, I wish I could come but this year has been a little mad for us as a family and so for now I am trying to keep being away to as little time as possible. Who knows .. let's see how things are going next year?

Thanks again, and all the best to you and your family.
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
Re: An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by stephen ssali
Well to say the least am very inspired by yo background to using Ae , caz I entered this filming thing 3yrs ago. when i was 33yrs of age but the way am enthusiastic about it is like i was blind but now i can see and reading yo background am really encouraged and i see the sky is the limit. special thanks to Andrew devis yo tutorials inspire me a lot because u really know how to explain things(the whys and how).
+1
@stephen ssali
by Andrew Devis
Thanks Stephen much appreciated :o) The sky is the limit so keep at it and keep growing your skills.
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
Re: @stephen ssali
by Kuhnen Brown
Andrew you have been our bridge to Premiere Pro. The depth you go to combined with your magic narrative makes you a genuine article. The others don't come close. When you hand us the tools I feel like we can hand in the work. Thanks for building bridges. I look forward to crossing over to the Adobe CC adventure with your Cow lessons.
Kuhnen
@Kuhnen Brown
by Andrew Devis
Hi Kuhnen

Thank you - I am really pleased that you have found the Première Pro tutorials helpful and that you are able to take the skills and get going with your own work :o)

As yet I don't have any Première Pro CC tutorials planned, but I am hoping to work on a SpeedGrade CC series in the next couple of months which should be a valuable skill to go alongside your Première Pro skills.

Thank you for taking the time to let me know that you have found the tutorials helpful - it is genuinely appreciated.

All the best
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
@An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by Ann Baldwin
It was so interesting reading about your journey. You come across as so English in your tendency towards self-deprecation (I'm English, too, so I know about that). The effort you have put into understanding what a student of After Effects and Premiere Pro really needs to know is truly amazing. You are NO fake!!

Ann Baldwin
http://annbaldwin.zenfolio.com/
'Art Changes Lives'
@Ann Baldwin
by Andrew Devis
Dear Ann

Thank you :o) I really appreciate your input as I do try and get into the head of people wanting to learn AE and PP. Actually, as far as possible I try and ask, 'What did I need to know or want to know about this subject' when I start a tutorial. I know I don't always get it right, but it is very encouraging to hear your thoughts.

Thanks again
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
Re: An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by Markus Wolff
Andrew, thank you so much for your great tutorials! I'm following you since my first beginning with AE some month ago and i'm still stuck in the mentioned "sitting in front of the UI shouting at both it and myself" - but i'll keep going and every tutorial of yours is motivation for me.
I'm still fascinated by the huge amount of features, AE provides and i'm celebrating every new step that i've learned through your tutorials.
So thanks again and keep going! ;-)
Best regards,
Markus
@Markus Wolff
by Andrew Devis
Hi Markus
I'm really pleased to hear that you're making progress with AE - and you have my full sympathy with the shouting phase of learning AE ... it can last a while ...
I'm planning to continue to make more tutorials in the AE Basics series, it's just that I seem to be really busy with training elsewhere so it's taking time to produce the tuts. They will come in time tho ..
Keep working through your projects and enjoy the small victories and then before long you'll be the expert :o) (at least in some things).
Thanks for the message
All the best
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
Re: An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by Michael Cox
Andrew:
From one old radio fellow to another, the thing that makes you tut's work is your narrative -- head and shoulders over anyone out there. Frankly if the subject I need help on isn't covered in your repertoire, I simply slog through it on my own. I am a former radio producer as well and I started on CS in version 4 at age 60-something. I produce digital signage content and training videos for an American company called -- Tilted Kilt. Oh I do their swim suit video as well. To you, Andrew, on the Cow anniversary, I quote Sir Alec Guinness in his reaction to the site of the Bridge on the River Kwai, "Good show."

Michael A. Cox
Burro Creek Pictures
Arizona, USA
@Michael Cox
by Andrew Devis
Hi Michael

Thanks for the comment, I believe that audio is the most important part of any video production and so my radio background has been a real blessing to me for tutorial production.

You have my respect for getting into the Creation Suite at the time you did, but if you are good technically (which you will be because of your radio background) then I can understand how you managed to make a sucess of it.

I will be sure to look up 'Tilted Kilt'- love the name!

All the best
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
Re: An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by Andrew Devis
Hi Gabriel

Thanks for the comment; you had me laughing out loud with your 'poor mortals' comment. The 'light' does great brighter in time ... we just need to be patient and keep clicking the buttons ;o)

All the best
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
Re: An Old Dog, Learning New Tricks
by Gabriel Sanchez
Thanks Andrew for you "show and tell" tutorials, they have really helped me lot of times, i´m so glad people like you exist, sharing their knowledge and letting us poor mortals see the light!
Regards


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