Book Review: Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, 5th Edition

August 22, 2010 1:53 am

Tags: Adobe, After Effects, book review, CS5, Focal Press, motion graphics

file_457993.jpgBook Review: Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, 5th Edition

A few months back I reviewed After Effects Apprentice by Trish & Chris Meyer, which I found to be absolutely wonderful. Now, here I am reviewing Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, also by Trish & Chris Meyer. Released in July, and now in its 5th edition, this book is fully updated for Adobe's After Effects CS4 and includes info on CS5, within the book, as well as in bonus chapters on the included DVD.

But, before I get further, it should be noted that Trish and Chris Meyer are highly regarded in the field of motion graphics, having an extensive background (some 17 years) and a plethora of professional work to their credit. A look at their website, Crish Design, would definitely be worth your time. They are also very active educators, with their online training at and CINEVERSITY, as well as speaking and teaching engagements abroad. They also continually update their now standard books on After Effects After Effects Apprentice and Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, which is being reviewed here.

At over 750 pages, this book is packed (and I mean packed) cover-to-cover with information. And while reading through it, I had to wonder just how many hours the authors must spend to be able to continually update this title so well. Seriously, there is so much covered in this book and I already have it riddled with sticky note bookmarks.

Organized into parts, the book takes you from the first part, where you are formally introduced to the After Effects interface and begin making comps and basic animations, through parts on working with cameras, effects, keying and tracking, and onto integration with other apps and advanced rendering. And organized as it is, it is a logical progression to learn After Effects, but at the same time, easy to find what you are looking for if you need to brush up on any particular skill. And I must mention there is also a fantastic section on how to effectively use the new Roto Brush introduced in After Effects CS5.

Here is a quick glance at how the book is organized:

  • Part 1: Animation Techniques
  • Part 2: Layer Management
  • Part 3: Modes, Masks, & Mattes
  • Part 4: Cameras! Lights! Action!
  • Part 5: Building Hierarchies
  • Part 6: Text Animation
  • Part 7: Effects & Presets
  • Part 8: Color & Keying
  • Part 9: Time & Tracking (including a section on how to use the Mocha Shape effect in After Effects CS5)
  • Part 10: Drawing, Painting, & Puppetry (includes an excellent section on the new Roto Brush in CS5)
  • Part 11: Working With Audio
  • Part 12: Expressions
  • Part 13: Importing & Integration
  • Part 14: Exporting & Rendering

Now, just as I had said about After Effects Apprentice, this book is also a real classroom-style learning experience. The authors state in the preface of this book that their goal is to "give you insight into how After Effects thinks," and this statement is absolutely true. You certainly get plenty of information on the hows and whys, as well as learning real-world problem-solving skills. But, more than that, you get continuous encouragement to further your learning on your own and find your own creativity.

Also, like the Apprentice book, there are plenty of tips, gotchas, factoids and challenges sprinkled throughout, as well as plenty of highlighted sections for deeper learning. This book is so well-rounded, it will also serve as a perfect After Effects reference you'll surely be reaching for again and again. And, in that vein, even if you are quite familiar with After Effects already, you'll certainly find some gems in here.

The book itself is in full-color and very well illustrated. Printed on quality paper and with a great binding, Focal Press certainly does a great job and should be commended for this, as well as for all the fantastic books they offer.

There is a DVD that accompanies this book, which is just as packed as the book itself. It includes all the project and source files for the full learning experience. There are also several bonus chapters, in PDF format, included on the DVD:

  • Effects Roundup (Tips on using many of the effects that ship with After Effects CS5)
  • Color Difference Keyer (Tutorial on how to use)
  • Audio Effects
  • Deeper Modes of Expression
  • Scripting Overview
  • 3D Channel Effects

The authors' combined experience with After Effects clearly shows through in this book, and I must thank them for continually updating this work. Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects is an absolutely wonderful book that teaches you everything you need to know to get the best out of After Effects and use it in real-world situations. I highly recommend picking this up if you have an interest in After Effects or in motion graphics in general. Whether you are new to After Effects, or have been using it for years, I guarantee you will want to have a copy of this around.

Price: $69.95 (USD)

For more info, see the book description on the Focal Press website.

Check out the related title, After Effects Apprentice, Second Edition, and be sure to read my review.

Also, be sure to read Sergio Rosa's review of After Effects CS5.

Nick C. Sorbin is a digital artist, sculptor, writer, and Managing Editor for Renderosity's Front Page News.
Renderosity Homepage


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