Experimenting in After Effects

The importance of experimentation to a motion designer can’t be over emphasised. Experimentation stretches your skills into new areas and has the potential to result in fresh, personalised looks, rather than copying the latest trend. In this walkthrough After Effects tutorial I breakdown a concert/music video-style video wall look, emphasising where I experimented along the way.  Plug-ins used include CC Ball Action,  Trapcode Lux and Starglow,  Video Copilot Optical Flares  and  GenArts Sapphire.

Discuss
  1. Jason Hadley
    Reply

    Nice! I love watching the thought process behind design rather than just straight recreation tutorials. Keep making these John!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hey Jason, thanks, I think you guys get more out of it in the longer term that way.
      Best wishes,
      John.

  2. Joyce
    Reply

    Great Tutorial! Although i feel its a little too close to Video Copilots 3D Ball wall Dispersion tutorial. But i do like the addition of Kalieda! Gives it a new spin.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Joyce,
      Any similarity between any of my tutorials and any existing tutorials on the web is purely coincidental unless I state otherwise in the tutorial. Best wishes, John.

  3. Rob Neal
    Reply

    Some nice ideas there. My only thought is that in reality, each “bulb” would only be able to create a single colour, so you need something to average out the area colour beforehand, whilst still retaining the specular highlights etc.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Rob, yes I did consider this too. In the end I decided that it happens so fast and looked “realistic enough” to do the job. Also, averaging out the colours with bulbs as big as I made them would also have affected the detail in the kaleida version. I think if I had made more, smaller bulbs it would have made more sense to explore that option further. Best wishes, John.

      • Rob Neal
        Reply

        It’s good you are one of those picking up on the “old school” effects.
        I find a lot of new people tend to ignore things like Kaleidoscope, Card Tile, Vegas, Shatter, Radio Waves and all those ancient effects and expect all the flashy Trapcode stuff etc.to do it all; (not that Trapcode isn’t brilliant).

        I think people should experiment more with those long forgotten effects because they still make great base layer comps with which to apply all the bells and whistles afterwards.

  4. Max
    Reply

    Hey John. Does the Motionworks discount code apply to all Trapcode products, or just Lux and Starglow? I’m trying to convince my boss to buy Particular for a job I’m doing, but he’s always after the cheaper option! Great tutorial by the way, it reminded me how I never experiment any more, much like the A-Z series is doing! Many thanks, Max

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Max,
      It applies across the entire range.
      Best wishes,
      John

  5. Chad
    Reply

    Love the effect you came up with John! If you don’t mind me asking, how long did it take you to finally get the effect you were looking for? I sometimes find myself taking a little too long and not knowing when to say “OK, It looks good”…………Awesome work as usual!!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hey Chad, I had 2 days for the job, which required packshots and full frame supers (using this wall). I know what you mean, it’s easy to end up in an experimental loop. The trick is watch the clock to make sure you meet your deadline, and keep lot’s of versions of the project in case you want to go back to a “pre-experimental” version!
      Best wishes,
      John

      • Chad Ronning
        Reply

        Good advice. Thanks!

  6. John Dickinson
    Reply

    He he, yeah Eric, I love how those just slip out when I’m demoing!

  7. illd
    Reply

    great example JD. Once again you showed some balls 😉

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks Illd!

  8. Marc Lucas
    Reply

    Thanks for another great insight John.
    When you tok the snapshot of the screen (SHIFT-F5) what key command did you then use to toggle the snapshots? That is a very handy addition to the toolset.

    Thanks

    Marc

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks Marc. Shift F5 (F6, F7) to take a snapshot, then hold down F5, F6 or F7 to view.
      Best wishes,
      John

  9. Marc Lucas
    Reply

    Thanks!

  10. arman - cura para el herpes
    Reply

    Very nice, just needed to do something for a TV show in Paraguay of I am post producers, this will serve me
    thanks

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      That’s great to hear! I’d love to see your final spot when it’s done.
      Best wishes,
      John.

  11. age
    Reply

    hi john, do you get much time for experimenting?? do you think you can still be good without being so smart with expressions, but with more arty skills, and tweeking etc?

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      I try to as much as possible depending on deadlines for projects. You can definitely go far without expressions, and even further if you get your head around even the basic expressions.

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