14 After Effects Video Editing Skills Professionals Can Develop

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

People who aim to edit videos for personal or professional uses have an abundance of video editing software from which to choose. One of the most popular programs is After Effects, which supplies a variety of tools and functions to allow users to manipulate, edit and animate their footage. If you're looking for new editing software or are interested in furthering your knowledge as a video editor, consider exploring After Effects as a viable option.

In this article, we explain what After Effects is and provide 14 skills that can prove useful in the editing process.

What is After Effects?

After Effects is a video editing program that allows its users to apply motion graphics, compositing, animations and visual effects to their footage. The software is versatile and has many features such as masking, layer creation and video manipulation. You can use these tools to achieve your ideal visual effect goals.

Related: How To Become a Video Editor: Definition and Steps

14 After Effects video editing skills

Even though After Effects is an accessible program, there may be some skills necessary for seamless user function. Here are some of the essential skills for video editing in After Effects:

1. Creating a composition

A composition in After Effects allows users to create the final frames for a movie. To create a composition, you can import your selected video clips to add to a timeline. From there, you can cut or trim these video clips into your composition as you desire. Once you've imported and edited your desired footage into your composition, you can arrange and manipulate layers.

Related: How To Learn Video Editing (Plus Tips for Starting Your Career)

2. Manipulating footage

Another key skill when editing with After Effects is the ability to manipulate footage. This includes having knowledge on altering video clip speed, adding markers and blending modes. You can use any of these elements to change the visual display of your film.

3. Arranging layers

Moving your layers occurs within your composition. After Effects offers several types of layers, such as text or shape layers, that allow you to create animations. Arranging your layers vertically builds your composition, and when placed horizontally, you can adjust them to make an animation. Being knowledgeable about layering techniques is likely to help you save time during the editing process.

4. Animating layers

Creating an animation occurs when you manipulate the layers you've arranged horizontally in your composition. Some adjustments you can make include position, scale, rotation, opacity and anchor point of the layer. You can also create masks to hide layers you don't want to see. Once you've edited your layers into an animation, you can create keyframes in your timeline and use the graph editor to smooth them for a seamless result.

5. Adding effects

Adding special effects to your video can create engaging imagery and elevate its overall narrative. For instance, you might see a glitch effect in a horror or science fiction movie to create a warped sense of reality. Some other effects you can include are immersive effects for 3D or VR films, augmented reality effects and lightning and fire effects.

Related: How To Get Into the Film Industry: Steps, Benefits and Typical Jobs

6. Creating and animating text

Animating text layers can be an essential part of video editing in After Effects. Title sequences, end credits and brand logos are all examples of animated text in a film. For example, you can use masks on the title text to mimic the flow of natural handwriting and insert the animation over your video clips to create a unique and interesting introduction.

7. Repairing imperfect footage

Sometimes, editors may decide to enhance video clips by adding a warp stabilizer to the footage. This helps smooth any shakiness in the shots. You can also sharpen individual frames with the camera shake deblur tool and apply color correction to improve the visuals of your project. Consider browsing through the different color effects to find your ideal visual display for your film.

8. Transforming video backgrounds

There might be times when you want to change the background of a video clip for your film. After Effects allows you to manipulate backgrounds in a variety of ways, such as making them transparent. You can also use animated graphic elements and looping techniques to create an animated background. These options usually grant you some flexibility with video placement around text or images.

9. Creating 3D compositions

Creating a 3D composition may require some knowledge of rendering and layering techniques. For example, you might want to understand how to enable 3D elements on a layer and put 2D layers into a 3D space. You can also add lights to 3D compositions to dramatize and add a sense of depth to your video. Consider studying different lighting techniques to apply the appropriate mood to your clips.

Related: Learn About Being an Animator

10. Applying transitions

You can use shape layers to build animated graphics and make a layer transparent to create a custom transition. Interesting transitions can be helpful when furthering a film's narrative and capturing the audience's attention. One good example of this effect is applying a dissolve transition to two video clips to create the illusion of visual or narrative connectivity.

11. Tracking motion

Easy motion tracking can be an effective skill within After Effects. Capturing the tracking data of a moving object in your footage can allow you to combine several elements and objects to match the actions in the clip. This is usually helpful when tracking faces in your videos, and you can even track specific details such as a subject's eyes, mouth or nose for added flexibility in editing.

Related: How To Become a Film Editor in 2022

12. Rotoscoping

Rotoscoping entails separating the background of a video from the subject by using a series of mattes. It usually involves working frame by frame to focus on a specific character or object in a video clip. You can also use rotoscoping to create lifelike animations by tracing and tracking live-action footage. Taking the time to animate frame by frame can result in an organic and professional animation.

13. Capturing for motion graphics

After Effects offers users the option to capture and save custom colors, brushes and shapes for their animations. For example, you can save a handwritten signature as a custom shape and convert it into an animation with motion graphics. This can help you refine your individual animation style and provide a unique appearance to your work.

14. Rendering your work

One of the most valuable After Effects skills is the ability to render your work. Rendering is the process of publishing your work to make it viewable outside of the After Effects application. You can make multiple renders for each composition depending on the type of media file you wish to create. While the default settings are typically fine for high-resolution output, you may want to change other aspects such as the name, audio settings or file size for your optimal, custom result.

Please note that none of the companies or products mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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