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After Effects Apprentice: Expressions

Our latest video training course on is a gentle introduction to one of the most powerful yet underused features in After Effects

By Chris and Trish Meyer | July 30, 2011

As we mentioned earlier, we're in the process of recording our book After Effects Apprentice as a series of training videos, where you get to look over our shoulders and hear what we're thinking as we work through each lesson. Our latest installment is on the subject of Expressions: The ability to define how a parameter animates using instructions such as "wiggle" compared to explicitly keyframing every value.

In this gentle introduction, Chris shows you how to let After Effects do most of the work while creating simple but very useful expressions that you can put to work on a wide variety of jobs. After showing you how needlessly complex accommodating clients changes can be if you rely solely on keyframes, he shows how to create and manage expressions, and use simple math to alter their basic functionality. He then covers three of his favorite expressions: translating between differing parameter ranges, the ability to loop an animation, and using "wiggle" to add some randomization to virtually any parameter. You can watch the overview above.

By the way, we didn't make a big fuss of it when it came out, but last month we also released our Apprentice course on Nesting and Precomposing. Although some users try to do everything inside one composition, the thoughtful use of multiple compositions can make it easier to reuse common elements, quickly deal with client changes, and re-wire the internal rendering order After Effects normally follows. Here's its overview:

The content contained in After Effects Apprentice - as well as the CMG Blogs and CMG Keyframes posts on ProVideoCoalition - are copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.


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Rob: | August, 03, 2011

This looks like it would be a very nice tutorial and I’m going to be buying the Adobe Production Premium Suite in the middle of next month. Since this is really an infomercial for your tutorials in, about which I’ve heard some good things, why don’t you go ahead and tell us more about, your tutorials and how much they will cost?

Chris Meyer: | August, 04, 2011 is the same flat monthly subscription rate for our and everyone else’s content on the site - it’s an “all you can eat” model. They have monthly or annual plans, with or without access to the source files that come with some courses (such as the After Effects Apprentice series).

As always, if you visit using our special URL, you get 7 days all-access free until they start billing you (so you can try them out, and cancel if don’t think it will be good value for you):

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