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So I've been trying to learn After Effects for the last 6 months and I've been having a hard time. First I started to learn only through tutorials but I found the knowledge I gained to be too scattered. Then I found a great book, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects and read about half of that. Now I'm going through it again and doing the examples this time but I'm finding it really boring and it's becoming hard to motivate myself to do it. I have so many ideas of stuff I want to create with AE but it's frustrating to me that I have to wait so long til I can actually do it. It's hard to find tutorials or anything that would lead me in knowing what to do and trying to learn a lot about AE so I can figure it out by myself is taking forever. Is there anything I can do to make learning AE more fun or easier? I keep being disheartening and being afraid that maybe motion graphics is not the right field for me if it's this hard to learn but I don't know if this is just the hard part and after I get all the basics down, it'll be easier. Anyone have any advice?

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Educated opinion: If you don't enjoy it in any way, then pick up another hobby/ job. Honestly, not having the slightest bit of self-motivation is the best indication for that your heart isn't in it, and even if you may learn the techniques and stuff one day, you will never be more than a mediocre chimp (no offense). Yes, it really sounds like you wanted it, but it isn't working out and before wasting another half year, it's better to let it go... AE may be a bitch on the best of days, but it really isn't that hard to learn the basics given the plethora of materials available... Chances are you could do this for another 2 years and still feel as overwhelmed, so nothing is gained.

 

Mylenium

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Yeah, that's weird to me. I find AE to be really fun and I learned it by fooling around on it at work when I was supposed to be designing. Really the best way to learn something is to say you know how to do it, get a job, and then figure it out when you're on a deadline and you have no choice but to learn. :P

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Not enough engaging learning material? Really? I feel exactly the opposite. If you feel it's taking too long and it's boring- sounds like you might want to be a storyboard artist that pairs up with an animator, or if you have all these ideas, try and sell yourself as a director.

 

 

*Cosby Voice* These kids today with their video tutorials and the hippity hop music.

 

 

 

c

Edited by Colin@movecraft

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Really the best way to learn something is to say you know how to do it, get a job, and then figure it out when you're on a deadline and you have no choice but to learn. :P

 

I'm going to have to go ahead and vehemently disagree with this idea, even though nog seems to be making it in jest(?). You'll feel better if you're upfront about your skill level. And if you don't have the skills, there's plenty of ways to gain 'em.

 

Learn the basics of the tools, and study the principles of design and animation. If you work hard enough and want it bad enough, trust me, it will happen. You may not get your dream job and do work on the level of Psyop, but you can certainly make a living in this industry if you're really, truly interested.

 

There's probably not a way to make this any more "fun" and "easy" if it isn't already feeling that way. The best way to learn After Effects, Photoshop, or any of these tools is to give your self a project, and try to do the best you can. Then, give yourself another one and do it better!

 

There are plenty of sites out there with tutorials, trust me. Andrew Kramer, Nick Campbell, Creative Cow (yes, that's right, CREATIVE COW),YouTube, and Vimeo are all great resources. You'll get better by actually doing your own work.

 

Now get busy and start kicking some ass!

Edited by daveglanz

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I'm going to have to go ahead and vehemently disagree with this idea, even though nog seems to be making it in jest(?).

 

I said it in jest to ward off the inevitable criticism, but I was actually kind of serious. ;)

 

Personally I can't read those kind of how-to books and do the little made up exercises they give you. I find it's much better to have a real goal I need to accomplish and then I'm forced to find a solution. Everyone learns differently though.

Edited by nog

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I said it in jest to ward off the inevitable criticism, but I was actually kind of serious. ;)

 

Personally I can't read those kind of how-to books and do the little made up exercises they give you. I find it's much better to have a real goal I need to accomplish and then I'm forced to find a solution. Everyone learns differently though.

 

True enough - "how-to" books have really lost their allure now that it's easy to find learning materials online.

 

And to future designers/animators - don't lie on your resumes or portfolios. I don't wanna be that guy who hires you and finds that out later :)

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When I was starting out, I recorded radio advertisements and animated visuals over the audio. It helped a lot, and I suggest trying the same. If you really want to pull something off and are at a loss, then reference books or tutorials.

 

Books introduce you to the terms and overall functionality. I think people take them a little too literally, forgetting that its a creative application.

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Some may balk at this, but I find formal classes help one get through the initial stages of learning something. Just because you may need an external source of motivation/structure at the beginning doesn't mean that you will never be interested/passionate enough to self-educate yourself through to excellence. I've definitely had my share of ups and downs when it comes to my interest in things like design and animation. Sometimes you just get so overwhelmed that you burn out a bit. Having an instructor that can keep you going can be very valuable in that regard. Plus you can talk to an instructor about everything you want to accomplish and get some good advice, perhaps even make a life-long friend in the process.

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I wouldn't be so quick to say give up like other people are.

I could never stand learning from tutorials myself, I find them tedious at the best of times.

 

Try something like this instead.

Come up with a project for yourself. Don't think about technique, or how it's to be executed, just come up with a concept.

Storyboard it out. Make a rough cut. Then start thinking about what's involved as far as after effects.

 

If you have trouble at a certain point, then refer to the tutorials. They're much more tolerable when you're watching them with a goal in mind.

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Try something like this instead.

Come up with a project for yourself. Don't think about technique, or how it's to be executed, just come up with a concept.

Storyboard it out. Make a rough cut. Then start thinking about what's involved as far as after effects.

 

If you have trouble at a certain point, then refer to the tutorials. They're much more tolerable when you're watching them with a goal in mind.

 

 

Or better yet - find someone like you who's just starting out and offer to do something for them. A non-profit, your DJ brother, whoever :)

 

 

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What works for me is video/audio casts - listening to people who are passionate about this field is really encouraging.. I might learn less technical info from them than I would by reading the manual or a book on the software (and I have my good share of books), but the enthusiasm really drives me to get out there and create. I'd check out Nick Campbell's archived videocasts & AE/C4D tutorials; fxguide tv videocasts; stuff from red giant tv; etc. Again, I personally find hearing people from the industry talk about their projects to be valuable, sometimes more so than tutorials. I use tutorials/books more as a reference when I'm ready to execute my concept.

 

Btw, I think that you're just in a little slump. My advice is to keep at it.. if what you are trying to accomplish doesn't work out, don't think twice about it and move onto something else, you can always come back to it. Or start from scratch and approach it differently. Step away from the computer and break it down in your head first or on paper (someone else mentioned something similar... works for me).

Edited by monstro

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Think about what is attracting you to motion graphics.

 

Find tutorials that feed that attraction. If you just go through tutorials without a driving passion you will run out of go-go juice.

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I wouldn't be so quick to say give up like other people are.

I could never stand learning from tutorials myself, I find them tedious at the best of times.

 

Try something like this instead.

Come up with a project for yourself. Don't think about technique, or how it's to be executed, just come up with a concept.

Storyboard it out. Make a rough cut. Then start thinking about what's involved as far as after effects.

 

If you have trouble at a certain point, then refer to the tutorials. They're much more tolerable when you're watching them with a goal in mind.

 

This is what has always worked for me, I find I remember things way better if they are solutions to a problem than if I just try and repeat steps in a tutorial. These days it's pretty easy to google and find a solution to a technical problem whenever you get stuck. Have been kind of going through the same thing again with learning C4D and for me taking on a personal project has been the only way to learn it. Has the bonus of if the project turns out well you have something for your reel, and you know the skills you are developing will hold up when doing "real" projects.

 

A lot of the free tutorials online are pretty scattered. When I first, first, started learning AE I used the Brian Maffit total training stuff which was a much more A to Z taking you through the software approach that makes a lot more sense to the way my brain works then the scattershot approach of the free online stuff as great as a lot of it is. It all depends on your learning style.

 

As for it getting easier in some ways it does, after you get a lot of the basic technical stuff down, a lot of software is pretty similar and becomes quicker to pick up but on the other hand you don't just want to repeat stuff you already know how to do so it's constant hard work, and learning if you want to be good and you have to be motivated to do that longterm.

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For several years, it was my job to make sure that people could find the information that they needed to use After Effects.

 

A year ago, I created this page to distill the basics and give people an ordered approach to learning After Effects:

"Getting started with After Effects (CS4 and CS5)"

 

Then, a few months ago, Angie Taylor and I spent a couple of weeks in a recording studio and made this:

After Effects CS5: Learn By Video

 

If these resources can't get you started and engaged, then I don't have anything more to offer you.

Edited by Todd Kopriva

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yeah, i dunno. I personally love learning how to do new stuff. sometimes even more than actually putting that knowledge to use. I love watching tutorials on software that i haven't even used yet, just because i find the approached interesting. Obviously there are some very boring tutorials out there, but if they are boring, don't watch em, watch something else.

 

video copilot was my first set of educational material for AE and his beginners course is great. It shows you how the program works really quickly, and then you can just move on from there.

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I think what the OP is complaining about is the total inabilty to learn mograph at home. No live projects, no insane need to learn specific skillsets and employ them to deadline.

 

As I see it, you have two options:

 

1. Get a job

 

2. Make your own video

 

With 1. you have to send out emails to studios telling them you'll lick the floor and unpaid while you *might* have the chance to touch a mouse (in reality they'll probably need you to supply assets and rotoscope, but keep your expectations low)

 

2. requires actual motivation, desire and dare I mention, creativity.

 

If you want to do motion graphics due to some perception that it is a cool job to have, get outta town. We are all exhausted, jaded and overworked and those of us have partners constantly argue about not being able to spend time with them due to mac fever. It's dirty work, but someone's got to do it.

 

I'm in the same boat - I have to learn German but don't want to sit in a class. Now I have to set myself little exercises, watch shitty TV shows, films etc and read two versions of the same book, all that jazz. It's about the will and the potential reward. If you can afford the time and money to go to college, why not? If you have ideas and you're learning AE to realise them, perhaps you're better off directing animators with skills and experience on a project that you oversee creatively.

 

Ten years ago all I had was the book you mentioned (2nd edition) and creative cow. Thanks to Andrew Kramer you could take my job in a year or two. That's fine. I'm going travelling and will likely end up in an ashram thousands of miles from the nearest mac pro. Take it. I'm beat.

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Sounds like it may be one of two things. Either you have lost your passion to learn or, you are frustrated with not being as good as you want to be. If it's the former, then maybe the advice to "find a new passion" is correct.

 

However, I have a feeling you are saying something more like "I'm sick of my stuff being so ugly and boring. I want MY work to look like the stuff I see on TV!". If that is the case, then I would say you are on the right track. Being frustrated with your current work is a great way to push yourself to develop skills.

 

If this is the case, then enjoy the path. There will always be better work out there than you can make. Use that work as a challenge, not as a way to get you down. Constantly compare your work to the greatest and you will always find motivation for getting better. Remember, there was only one way that they got that good in the first place... Diligent practice.

 

Keep it up!

 

Cheers,

Nick

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Thanks everyone for all the advice, I really appreciate it. I have learned the basics, I went through the Video Copilot guide and it was really helpful. Mostly it's just hard going through tutorials and constantly looking up stuff to find information on what I want to do when I just want to play with it, have fun and make cool things (that's my motivation btw, self-expression, I could care less about how "cool" the job is). And yes, it's frustrating that my stuff looks so puny next to what the professionals do that helps inspire me. It's not that there's not a TON of stuff out there because there is but I haven't found anything that I really enjoy learning from. Maybe it's not the right career for me, I don't know. For now I'm take a short break from it and then trying again without so much pressure and I will try giving myself projects and seeing how I can make it happen.

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