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Chapter 1. After Effects: The Big Picture

Chapter 1. After Effects: The Big Picture

“It's the Photoshop of dynamic media.”

Summing up After Effects often leads to a comparison to its more famous sibling, Photoshop. Just as Photoshop lends you precise control over still images, After Effects gives you startling command over moving images. And, like Photoshop, After Effects has established itself as one of the leading programs of its kind. But After Effects is much more than an imitation of Photoshop.

After Effects brings together typography and layout, photography and digital imaging, digital video and audio editing, even 3D animation. You can edit, composite, animate, and add effects to each element. And you can output the results for presentation in traditional media, like film and video, or in newer forms, like CD-ROM, DVD, or the Web.

In this sense, a more apt metaphor would be that After Effects is the opera of digital media. Just as Wagner sought to combine disparate forms of performance into a “total work of art”—or gesamtkuntzwerk—After Effects allows you to unite various media into a unique, dynamic whole. But that may sound a bit grandiose. If it's more convenient, “the Photoshop of dynamic media” works just fine.

Because After Effects draws from so many sources, it also appeals to a wide range of users. You may want to add motion to your typography or design work. Or perhaps your interest in photography and digital imaging brought you to After Effects. Maybe you're a film or video maker who requires visual effects. Or maybe you're an animator who wants to expand your repertoire of tools. Maybe you've heard that After Effects is fun. Whatever your background, whatever your goal, you're ready to get started.

This chapter acquaints you with After Effects. It explains how it works and what you'll need to get started. And if you're not already familiar with the QuickStart and QuickPro series, this chapter will also introduce you to the book's step-by-step, visual approach to explaining After Effects. Now, let's get to gesamtkuntzwerk.



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