Useful Tips

I stumbled upon a recently published list of Tips for motion graphics folks by Computer Arts. There is tons of great advice I’m sure you will find useful. So I started thinking, without restating any of these tips (intentionally), I could make a top 10 list, maybe even 20. So here it is! -5 more.

1. Make Proxies of Elements

Designs can be complex, often times an element is used or reused that can be very heavy on rendering. For example, this circular element contains a heavy radial blur that renders very slow. Other parts of the design still require work and you should not have to waste extra time. So I created a full resolution proxy of the element I could output as well.

In the render settings, there is an option for the proxy use, to use none or current settings. Of course if you really need to change the design element, just disable the proxy and have at it. This is also a great idea for pre-comps and things that are somewhat “finished”.

2. King of the Kaps lock

Have you ever noticed how fast you can move around in After Effects with the Caps Lock on? It’s because rendering is disabled however, you can still do almost everything. In big compositions (even small ones) this can save time navigating, editing clips and even keyframin’ without any tax. There is also the Live Update button but this way is much better. Practice using your pinky and toggle on!

3. Watch your Video Someplace Else

Change your scenery and watch a quicktime on another computer or on your desktop outside of AE, perhaps in the presence of another person. You will look at things in a new way revealing aspects you may have overlooked and you might even get some constructive criticism too. At which point you tell your wife to get here things and leave.

4. Safe Experimentation

Do you like what you have created so far but want to try something risky? Duplicate your composition and continue working from the copy. No regrets just a free and open mind.

5. Be Ambitious but not Unrealistic

When working for a client, plan your project carefully. Don’t put all your time into 1 shot and assume the rest can be pulled together last minute. Leave extra time to finesse the end result. For example, a 3d scene can look great with some GI and refractions and all that jazz but rendering will be a nightmare and re-rendering is a nightmare you can actually die in. You can make things look great with standard rendering and creative lighting so don’t be lazy here.

A commercial isn’t usually judged on the best part but rather what is lacking. Remember this, with today’s technology, you can create anything imaginable, but deadlines are a reality and you don’t want to shoot and miss.

8 years ago
I'm Sorry Shape Layers! I love you!
I must confess… I was never a big fan of shape layers…  we just didn’t get along.  I was used to using masks but suddenly (around AE CS3) the same mask tool began creating Red vector shapes. At first, they seemed cool enough but after accidentally adding shape layers to my comps, instead of masks, I lashed […]
Visualization Experiment and new Renders
Just playing around with a new After Effects experiment without using any 3rd Party plug-ins! I need to refine some parts of the effect but I really want to make a tutorial for it ASAP! Here are some other projects you may have missed! Using Element 3D bump mapping to create some Gold coins and […]
New Tutorial: Realistic Rain Drop FX!
In this tutorial we’ll use After Effects to create a realistic water effect without any 3rd party plug-ins! Great for adding atmosphere to a rainy scene or title. This effect is fully customization and can be used to create many cool FX! In this tutorial: Create a dripping water displacement map Simulate realistic camera DOF […]
Destruction Experiment!
What is this thing! I’ve basically combined a bunch of stuff into one experiment! I might have been inspired by the amazing planet explosions from The Force Awakens but wanted to see if I could get a cool version inside Element 3D. Few Notes on this experiment; I added smoke elements, shockwaves using CC Sphere, and even […]

5 years ago
Hey Thanks Andrew. For all your stuff. You are very helpful..
5 years ago
I'm certain that last tip is gonna help me. I'm starting a college course in Media, after my entire life homeschooling.

Not used to deadlines
donald nwali
6 years ago
thanks for the useful tips. but i have a do i get my final project rendered or exported retaining the transparency of the background? thank you.
Nate Bro
7 years ago
Very helpful. Both the 50 tips article and your tips. The practicality of art is a tricky balance. :^)
8 years ago
It's cool to hear you talk about the business aspect of After Effects in #5. I have never had the opportunity to hear anything about the Client/After Effects challenges. I expect they are not to far from any other program, but my render time in Photoshop is not even something I think about. I guess this may be like spending all your time retouching one eye on a beauty shot and not having enough time to do the other one, though.
8 years ago
i am a web designer and so far have been working on flash only, andrew i must tell you that so far i found your tutorials to be the best all over the internet, i am amazed at your capabilities brother, keep up the good work..
8 years ago
thank you very much Andrew!!! I like those tips...
8 years ago
Feliz Anho..
realmente eres grande Andres
gracias por tu talento y bondad.
Tu hija tiene al mejor hombre como padre.
8 years ago
Thank you for tips.Happy New Year for Videocopilot team .Romania is with you Andrew !!!
8 years ago
[ Sorry You have big talent*]
8 years ago
Hey Andrew and everyone . I want wish you a Happy New Year you great . I have big talent. I speak that re most of you. Sorry without my bad english ;p . Happy New Year
8 years ago
Andrew - In case you're still looking for the December 08 issue of Computer Arts Projects, there's one on ebay (Item number: 140284842519)

...or the back issues department can be contacted on +44870 837 4773 (that's what I'm going to do!)

I would've thought they could've chucked a freebie your way - still... that's business.
8 years ago
very nice article. computer arts, huh?
keep new tutorials coming, since there haven't been any new ones lately
8 years ago
I got that Magazine.
There's two pages dedicated to Andrew's work on fringe and what he found challenging
You The MAN Andrew.
8 years ago
use precaution with #4. when i was just starting out, i would dup my master comp and experiment, not knowing that the nested precomps are being altered also. if you dig into your precomps to make changes, make sure you dup your precomps as well (CS3).
Thorsten Miess
8 years ago
I actually do tip 4 all the time, but sometimes forgetting to duplicate ...
8 years ago
Thank you.
8 years ago
Nice work Andrew
8 years ago
And Good Work
8 years ago
p.d: all the best from ARGENTINA!!!!!
AGUANTE VIDEO COPILOT, ANDREW SOS EL MEJOR!!! (this is in Spanish, jeje)
8 years ago
thanks a lot andrew! your tips are the best! you are my best teacher EVER!!!!!!
8 years ago
nice, again andrew you are my hero
Luc D.
8 years ago
Super Tips!

I just saw THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, and half way through, I noticed the VIDEOCOPILOT news bg plates in one of the shots. Just goes to show how far your free training goes: all the way to Hollywood!
8 years ago
Great tips. In my experience, the best tip is the tip on deadlines. If you miss deadlines, you won't get hired again. Unfortunately, I learned that one the hard way. :o(

Hopefully, at some point, they'll give me another chance to not make the same mistake twice.

8 years ago
Just Amit
8 years ago
Great tips : )

really liked the last one. Buy the way, since everyones talking about fringe, i love that show. I always think of VCP when i see those 3D text labeling the areas.
8 years ago
Thanks for your great advice
8 years ago
a- I use that tip of experimenting in a copy of the comp I'm doing all the time. That's an awesome tip so if you mess up ou still have the good one ot go back to. However I usually find that I do cool stuff that way and it works. Either way you're safe. Good tip there.

b- Yeah Fringe kicks butt. There were a couple episodes in the beginning I didn't love, but I like the show overall and by the fall finale I was hooked =). I hope it stays around a while.
8 years ago
If only I had read these back in freshmen year...

I do agree with all of them. Thanks for posting these, I'll tell my friends to give them a read.
8 years ago
Sweet tips, I'll check the article in a second.

Andrew- you see your stuff in The Day The Earth Stood Still yet? For all I know you worked on it.
8 years ago
Andy, great tips. You must have read my mind. Deadlines, deadlines... I will work on it.
I sincerely appreciate your generosity.
8 years ago
Yeah, I also thought there was a bit in the same issue on your Fringe titles.

It was the special Motion Graphics issues of Computer Arts Projects - the same issue had the 50 motion graphics tips which is up on their site now:

You would think if they went to the trouble of contacting you about FRINGE that they would have also asked you for a tip or two.
8 years ago
Really ggod tips andrew, but i have a question for You.
when coming the new tutorial? :D:D i have bought all bundles, but now it time to create a new tutorial..!! :P
I jocke... you are the best....

I wait for new tuts
8 years ago
Ha! Actually I can't seem to get my hands on that article! Arggg.
Fat Elvis
8 years ago
LOL, Stumbled upon......were you not in this issue? Your FRINGE title sequence got a mention and a quote from yourself.

Don't be shy Andrew, it's ok to read about yourself LOL

Very useful tips indeed.
8 years ago
Cool beans Kramer
8 years ago
another one, which applies to actually ANY piece of software these days: Learn the keyboard shortcuts. It'll make you feel like you have 4 arms.
8 years ago
Cool, only i knew most of the things already, gonaa sleep now, its 2.00Am in Europe right now!
Flim By Tim Productions
8 years ago
check out my videos I used your tips
8 years ago
Awesome tips andrew THANKS! :)
Zohein Sharma
8 years ago
Dude these are great tips... Proxies...
8 years ago
Thanks for the awesome tips!