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Introduction

Introduction

Welcome to Adobe After Effects 6.5 Magic! Like the other books in New Riders' Magic series, the book you have in your grasp contains original, hands-on projects that are written for readers who already understand the basics. You can easily expand upon each project in this book using your own creative and innovative ideas. We provide a few suggestions at the end of each chapter that will help you experiment and enhance the projects to take them to the next level. All the techniques revealed within can be recycled into something new and unique over and over again simply by changing the content and tweaking some base values.

To make the most of this book, we hope you approach the projects here with a spirit of discovery and experimentation. Let them serve as a starting point for your own exciting new motion graphics ideas and After Effects creations!

How this book was written

This book was the brainchild of LA-based motion graphics pro and teacher, James Rankin. James said, “The original concept of this book was inspired by a comment from an audience member at one of my speaking engagements on After Effects. He said, 'I love these sessions. They're like a cookbook of recipes for people who do this for a living and used to have to figure it out from scratch.' Then he asked, 'Do you have a book out like this?' There wasn't one like it then, but thanks to the good people at New Riders, there is now.”

The After Effects projects featured in this book were crafted by James Rankin and contributors Jason Croatto and Danielle Heitmuller. Jason designed the projects for chapters 8, “Animating with Illustrator”; 12, “Sonic Promo”; and 22, “Video Cubes.” Danielle designed the projects for chapters 1, “Spinning Squares”; 2, “Falling Squares”; and 3, “Wall of Squares.” And James designed the remaining chapters' projects.

Co-author Anna Ullrich expanded on the finished developed projects, in some cases generating simpler solutions for some tasks and restructuring others. She crafted the step-by-step language that will enable you to make quick and effective use of the wealth of creative ideas found in these pages.

Who this book is for

Even though this book targets experienced users of After Effects, we've tried to ensure that new users can also keep up with every project. Toward that objective, we use the same terminology that After Effects Help uses to name features and refer to user-interface elements. This way, you can easily locate related documentation in Help.

About this book and companion DVD

This book uses Adobe After Effects 6.5, and features that are specific only to that version are incorporated into many of the projects. Some projects also use features that are available only in the Professional version of After Effects 6.5, such as motion tracking and particular effects. (These features are noted in the book's text wherever relevant, so you aren't sent on a wild goose chase searching for a feature or reporting a bug that doesn't exist in the software or book.)

For your convenience, the book's companion DVD offers a 30-day tryout version of After Effects 6.5 Professional. Some projects use third-party effects (which were developed by other companies for After Effects and which must be installed into After Effects). Demo versions of those effects are also provided on the book's DVD; you'll find a 30-day demo version of Zaxwerks' 3D Invigorator Classic effect and a 14-day demo version of Boris FX's Continuum Complete collection of effects. Finally, the companion disc includes QuickTime movies of all the finished chapter projects and source materials you can use to complete each project yourself.

Let the fun begin!

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