I like to play about on my PC and see what it can achieve with a little help from some good software and of course my innovative genius. One such way of doing this is by experimenting with video and editing. There are numerous programs on the market to enable even a novice to produce some excellent results, but if you are totally serious about doing this then there is no other package on the market that can produce the dramatic results achieved by using Adobe After Effects. The problem here of course is that the initial outlay is in the region of £1000 yep that's right about a grand to edit videos.
Not having a spare £1000 at hand I was fortunate enough to know someone who did have that kind of cash to splash out on a piece of software, and he was kind enough to let me try it out. After a fairly lengthy installation I was finally in a position to see what this greatly talked about product can do. And I was totally gob smacked.
There are several really good websites around that will teach you how to get the best from this program and indeed on many sites you can download plug ins which will enhance your project. 2 of the most popular sites are creative cow and videocopilot.net My choice here is dependant on what I actually wish to achieve, but in general videocopilot has an easier mode of learning and a huge bank of files from which you can enhance your experience. If you are lucky then you can also download videos to teach you the vast complexities of this amazing piece of software.
The basic principle of use is very similar to other software titles, that being that it is menu driven. This does makes things a lot easier especially once you have mastered exactly what each menu option actually does, which can take some considerable time and patience. However being a hands on kind of guy I just get tore in and try everything and see what happens.
The screen is split into three main sections across the top of the screen with the additional portion at the bottom which is a graph type effect showing what you have added to the original video. The project info is held in a box on the left hand side, to its right and in the middle of the screen is the preview window or composition screen where you can view each effect as it is added. Furthest right is the control section where you can there are playback controls and menus to where you add and delete effects. The list of effects is a drop down menu system which is easy to get used to. It is the actual contents of this section that create your masterpiece.
The list of effects in the initial load of the program is quite large and as you download plug ins it becomes monstrous, and sometimes even quite intimidating. By selecting an option from the effects menu and dragging onto the main screen you will have added that effect to your project. A quick click on the small playback control section and you project will play with the effects in place. You will notice after dragging the effect onto the main screen you will be presented with it's details in the project window, where further drop down menus enable you to edit the parameters of the effects.
1. Animation Presets
2. 3D Channel
4. Blur & Sharpen
6. Colour Correction
8. Expression Controls
12. Noise and Grain
13. Paint Perspective
This list grows significantly with the downloaded plugins which add another vast array of effects.
From here it is simply a matter of trial and error until you have the look and feel you started out to achieve. Well actually you won't because you will most probably as I do get too involved in the effects and end up with something far superior to that which you originally might have envisaged. Some of the effects are staggering. One of the key parts is a download called Keylight which corrects or alters colour in your project.
A great example of this effect can be shown by filming something with a blue or green background ( I used and old sheet which was dyed a darkish green ). Using the Keylight effect you can remove the green or blue and end up with just the video of whatever you were filming. This can now be used and placed anywhere to make it look like it was somewhere it was not. So by filming myself with the green background and using Keylight I end up with just me...... and this video can be overlaid onto any other picture or video to make it look like I was there in the original. The scaling tool can be used to reduce the video size which gives you even more options. Using a similar process you can even change the colour of your shirt or indeed any colour in the video should you find it unsuitable for your new location, this colour change will then be applied all through the video no matter how long it is. Another really good usage of this effect is to greyscale your video and add red lips and nail polish sort of like the effects in Sin City. These are just a few effects which I particularly like out of the hundreds available, all of which stimulate the imagination into creating something far better than you might have hoped.
I know to many this may sound very complicated but in fact everything is drag and drop, and then adjusting in the project panel, where a small reset option will take you back to the original effect. On top of video effects there are numerous text effects for adding titles and the like. In fact whilst watching some advertisements lately I have discovered that by using Adobe After Effects I could create very similar effects, and therefore am now able to see how some of the apparent magical advert effects are achieved. All changes can be undone by using the typical menu bar at the top of the screen. From this menu bar you can also do everything else although it is far simpler to do it through the main screen menu's.
It is a fairly time consuming affair editing and adding effects to any video even a short piece, but the rewards of turning out something that is truly amazing do definitely justify the time spent. With the huge effects available you will be able to do almost anything you can imagine with a little online help readily available.
The basic list of effects is as such that each category has sub categories, each effect is adjustable through the project window, and even small changes can completely change the original effect making the combination of effects massive. The use of layers also means that you can overlay certain effects on top of other effects to create a completely new effect.
As I said the initial outlay is way above what most of us are ever likely to spend on software unless we were intending to use it to it's full potential, and perhaps earn back some of the purchase cost, by doing Weddings and such, but it is absolutely a magnificent piece of gear for those who are so minded. I can see how it would totally confuse many technophobes, but for those with the inclination for such software this is exceptional. Unfortunately I am due to return it to it's owner soon and will be hard pushed to find an affordable option which can create such fantastic effects
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