May 4, 2009
After Effects Expressions
Written by Marcus Geduld
Review by Steve Douglas
I'm not done reading and working my way though this book, but I certainly intend to do so.
Expressions in Adobe After Effects are just like the many tools you find within the application, but are different in that instead of manually adjusting the tools with sliders, rotational clocks and the like, you type in what you want the tool to do with both words and numbers. Numbers? I hated Algebra, barely squeaked by Geometry, and failed Trigonometry, twice. On my first day of college I told the counselor I wanted to be a paleontologist and she ran out a list of math classes I would have to take. In one felt swoop there was the end of my paleontological career. So when I first skimmed through this book and saw all these weird commands like:
Darn if I didn't think I had gotten in over my head. How could I ever review a book that was going to have me doing things I barely knew existed? However, Marcus Geduld's easy reading style of writing went a long way towards creating a safe learning environment when learning to stretch the boundaries of my editing skills and knowledge. He starts off slow and very easy, and I had little difficulty following along. You don't have know how to read Java Script or be a programmer to use this book. Just reading along and following the clear and precise directions brings a familiarity to what you are to do next. It's a matter of developing an understanding as to how expressions work in After Effects that brings you the confidence to keep going.
Nothing's perfect and there are some things to be considered. Instead of a disc containing the media used in the many examples and exercises, a reference url is given where you can find the media and project files you need. A big complaint is that when you open the project files, the various expressions you are supposed to type in, are already done for you. Can't see what good that is? Neither can I. The url also does not seem as ordered as it should be. I don't know why a DVD was not included with the book as most others of this nature are.
Never the less, there is a great deal to be learned with this book and it is fun too. I never even heard the term 'pick whipping' until I read this book and what a great way to connect effect parameters to each other. Marcus Geduld's writing style is full of humor, wit and reassurances. The various steps and functions are then, if you continue to practice, very applicable to any number of projects you might have on your editing bay plate.
We all have our workflow habits and style of editing. You might not take the avenue to convert to being a complete After Effects expressions user, but there are truly many tips and tricks which will find you using the expressions tools you've picked up to make editing in Adobe After Effects that much quicker.
Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, and productions for National Geographic and the History channels. Steve is also feature writer for Asian Diver Magazine and is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition. He is available for both private and group seminars for Final Cut Pro and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Micronesia for the Manta Fest in 9/09, the Red Sea and Egypt for Nov.2009, Truk Lagoon and Yap in Micronesia for July, 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com
copyright © Steve Douglas 2009
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