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Prisoner To My Passion

CreativeCOW presents Prisoner To My Passion -- Adobe After Effects Editorial


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My name is Rob Mize and I am After Effects dependent.

I don't know if it's addiction or adoration, but one way or the other, I'm hooked on her. The signs are all there: the obsession with After Effects, the inability to function without After Effects there next to me on my laptop, waiting to be clicked. And the torment of each moment spent suffering any separation from my cherished compositor. Is it any wonder that I, a once innocent naïf in an analog world, now find myself enraptured by this non-linear, digital Delilah?

My story begins some 30-plus years ago, as a part-time production technician at WMC-TV in Memphis, Tennessee. It was a great time to be at a great station. We produced a lot of local programming: Newscasts, remote special events, public affairs shows, a kids' magic show, even live studio wrestling.





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Dad & Lad
Consequently, my production experience was an eclectic, hands-on, linear/analog experience. Eventually I became Production Manager and transitioned our station to digital production, but, as a manager, I missed the work of a producer/director/editor that had first drawn me to television. So, after 20 years in broadcast TV, I left to become a freelance producer, and in so doing, entered the realm of compositing and motion graphics... a virtual universe composed of layers and running on key frames... a place of infinite possibilities all there within the After Effects Comp Viewer Panel.

However, realizing these possibilities was no easy task. For although she is tempting and seductive, After Effects can play very hard to get.

I was somewhat discouraged by my early encounters with After Effects... clicking clumsily toward frustration. And then I discovered CreativeCOW.net where I studied the great works of the Masters: Rabinowitz, Harrington, Park, Maltaannon, Stern and Kramer. It was during this virtual "self-apprenticeship," that I began to consider After Effects in terms of the actual Space Time Continuum in which we exist. This was the epiphany that helped me grasp the purpose and practice of using key frames to animate layers in XYZ Space along a Timeline.

My understanding of this universe began to grow, and so did my ambition. And thus it came to pass that, blinded by my own artistic aspirations, I was enraptured by the irresistible allure of After Effects.

I became hopelessly dependent on AE, using her to entice and acquire potential clients. I targeted non-profit organizations, as their projects were frequently under-valued and attracted fewer competitors for what was incorrectly presumed to be inferior or low budget work. These clients appreciated even modest efforts to improve their media. Spending only an hour or two with After Effects, I could surprise my client with a logo treatment that was immediately recognized as a value added feature of my work. Ironically, this temptress that had so bewitched me now helped charm my clients.

I continue to benefit from the efforts of the AE artists who so generously share their time and talents. Their tutelage has encouraged me to produce several After Effects tutorials of my own, an exercise which has proven instrumental to my own AE development. In my enthusiasm to engage the audience, I am compelled to consider my production choices and to explore possible alternatives.

I find viewer expectations to be an impetus toward the further reaches of competence and creativity. These tutorials are not intended as an exercise in mimicry. Rather my hope is the process will reveal techniques that are recognized, remembered and revised; and eventually applied to some project yet to be conceived. Viewer response to these efforts has yielded a number of pleasant, productive, and even profitable associations - as well as some rather barbed criticism - and I am glad to have them both. Taken as a whole, I find the dialog generated by these tutorials to be overwhelmingly constructive and I appreciate it very much.

Neither AE, nor any other software, will be the right approach for every project or the solution to every problem. But for me, After Effects is the best combination tool kit, paint box, life-ring, spice rack and Swiss Army knife in the world of motion graphics compositing. Sometimes I even do print work in After Effects. I just calculate the pixels in the composition to equal 300 dpi and save the frame as a print friendly format. I find that with AE, I can often get closer to where I want to be more quickly.

I know that AE may have a few shortcomings. Sure, I wish she would library and apply text attributes for me, but I admit it... I'm crazy about her just as she is. For in the mastery of her mysteries, AE can be the method and the means to enlighten, enable and inspire. So if I have become a prisoner to my passion, I have done so willingly, even joyously. So regarding my devotion to my beloved After Effects, I think there is virtue in this vice.









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