Book Review: After Effects Apprentice

March 21, 2010 11:37 pm

Tags: Adobe, After Effects, book reviews, Focal Press

file_449942.jpgA 'Must Have' for Learning After Effects

Over the past year, my eyes have really opened to the field of motion graphics, with the likes of such wonderful tools as CINEMA 4D's MoGraph module and Adobe's After Effects. Likewise, I found myself wanting to gain a deeper understanding of these tools, not just merely the cool stuff you can do with them. Enter a wonderful book titled After Effects Apprentice (2nd Edition) by Trish and Chris Meyer.

Trish and Chris Meyer are highly regarded in the field of motion graphics, having an extensive background 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. Add in the fact that they continually update their now standard books on After Effects, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects (currently in it's 4th edition) and After Effects Apprentice (now in it's 2nd edition covering CS4, and what is being reviewed here).

Upon my first look inside After Effects Apprentice, I immediately knew this was going to be a worthwhile experience. This is a full-color, beautifully designed book aimed at giving the reader the foundation needed to truly understand and effectively use After Effects to its fullest potential. This is not a round-up of flashy one-off tutorials, but a real hands-on, classroom-style learning experience from start to finish.

Though, admittedly, I'm only partially through actually applying the skills presented in this book, I have read it through once already. The reading is easy and the work is very easy to follow. There are plenty of full-color screenshots throughout, so you won't find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out the information that is being presented.

The table of contents gives you a quick glimpse of how After Effects Apprentice is organized (Note: the Pre-Roll section is a detailed look at the After Effects interface and the Appendix is an excellent guide to choosing render output):

  • Pre-Roll
  • Lesson 1 - Basic Animation
  • Lesson 2 - Advanced Animation
  • Lesson 3 - Layer Control
  • Lesson 4 - Creating Transparency
  • Lesson 5 - Type and Music
  • Lesson 6 - Parenting and Nesting
  • Lesson 7 - Expressions and Time Games
  • Lesson 8 - 3D Space
  • Lesson 9 - Track and Key
  • Lesson 10 - Paint and Puppet
  • Lesson 11 - Shape Layers
  • Lesson 12 - Final Project
  • Appendix - Rendering

However, the topics listed in the contents do not tell the whole story of After Effects Apprentice, as there is so much more to be gained from the pages within this book. Not only do you have a complete basic course of instruction, but also plenty of further learning along the way, and I absolutely loved that about this book.

First, within each lesson, you also get a healthy sprinkling of sidebar tips and factoids, advanced techniques and things to watch out for, as well as highlighted sections further explaining related info throughout. Then, there are the Idea Corner sections, as well as what the authors call 'Quizzlers' at the end of the lessons. The Idea Corner encourages trying out different approaches to what you have learned, while the Quizzlers involve looking at provided video clips to see if you can figure out how they were made.

The final lesson in this book is a full production project from start to finish, where you really learn how to put the knowledge gained from the previous lessons to work.

This book also comes with a DVD which contains all the lesson files, as well as the video for the Quizzlers I mentioned. Further, there are also 'Guided Tours,' which are basically as the title suggests, video clips that help guide you through some of the lessons in the book.

I couldn't be more excited to have found this book, and I thank the authors for continually updating this work. This book gives you a solid foundation in After Effects while encouraging further learning with plenty of thought-provoking and creativity-stirring challenges. I highly recommend picking this up if you have an interest in After Effects or in motion graphics in general.

Price: $44.95 (USD)

For more info, see the book description on the Focal Press website. Note: if you register at the site, you can access chapter samples for this as well as other Focal Press titles.

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


March 29, 2010

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