Jan 02, 2022 · 5 mins read

10 Tips Every After Effects User Must Know

Mike Leins

Mike Leins

Illustrator & Video Production

10 Tips Every After Effects User Must Know

After Effects is a powerful video editing program, especially for those who want to make their videos look cinematic and professional. It provides editors with the tools to create top-notch visuals right from their home computers. With the right knowledge, your video projects can look incredible and they can wow your audience.

After Effects has tons of awesome features that make editing and enhancement a breeze. If you know the secrets of After Effects, you can work quicker, work easier, and make spectacular video edits. Here are ten After Effects tips that every user has to know:

Photo by Spartan Xozz on Unsplash

1. Take Command of Text Kerning

It seems like every video editing package has a tough time providing the perfect text kerning. After Effects has got you covered with built-in text kerning options. The program defaults to kern by ‘metrics’, but you can change it to ‘optical’ in the text settings, providing a better look. For even more control, simply click within your text, hold down the ALT key, and adjust the kerning with the left and right arrows.

2. Save a Single Frame of Your Video

Looking to share a quick view of your project with someone? No need to render out a video when you can render a high-quality still frame. Scrub to the frame you want to render and go to Composition →Save Frame As → File to create a still frame of your work. Now you have a high-grade single image of your work to share with anyone who needs to see it.

3. View All Keyframes at Once

Keyframes are an essential part of video editing. You can change nearly anything over a period of time using a set of keyframes. It can be tough to ensure you’re looking at every keyframe you’ve placed in your edit. If you just click U, every layer with a keyframe will open, showing you the placement of every keyframe for easy reference and simple editing.

4. Change Render Quality

While editing, you may need to render out a sample of your work to show to a boss or a friend. It can take really long to render a full video at top quality. Luckily, you can adjust the quality by changing the render quality before you start. Just select “full” on the timeline and change it to a lower setting. This allows you to render out a good-looking video without stressing out your system and wasting a ton of time.

5. Transform Multiple Objects at Once

Oftentimes, you may find yourself needing to change many objects in a similar way, but this can take a while to do. Even worse, you’ll have to eyeball the transformations, hoping you’ve changed everything in relation to one another. Fortunately, After Effects makes it easy to edit many objects at once. All you have to do is create a Null Object in the timeline and use that Null Object as the ‘parent & link’ option for all the objects you want to edit. Then simply edit the Null Object to make changes to all the child objects.

6. Scale Your Keyframes

It can be irritating to change your keyframe placement in regard to other keyframes. If you move one keyframe the wrong distance, it can mess up your entire visual. Fortunately, it’s easy to maneuver a set of keyframes together. Just SHIFT SELECT all the keyframes you want to scale and drag one of them forward or backward. All the selected keyframes will move in unison. Use this tool to add an exact amount of space between your keyframes, whether visual or audible.

7. Duplicate a Layer in an Instant

Sometimes your workflow can speed up by copying and pasting the effects and filters of one layer onto another. It’s easy to duplicate a layer, bringing all of its effects to a new one in After Effects. Simply select a layer and hit CTRL (or CMD) + D. Your new layer will be identical to the old one, making it easy to utilize all the effects of the original layer. Add or subtract settings as needed to create the effects you want for the new layer.

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

8. Sequence Your Layers

A lot of videos require multiple shot changes and individual images appearing at any one time. It takes too long to adjust every layer individually to ensure that each layer is on the screen by itself. If you select all the layers and go to Animation → Keyframe Assistant → Sequence Layers, your layers will evenly space out so each layer is perfectly timed out.

9. Take Control of Your Colors

Color correction is hard to do properly, even for the pros. After Effects makes it easier to manipulate your colors with a rotatable master hue. Go to Add The Effect > Color Correction > Hue/Saturation to find the master hue and rotate it accordingly. This can help you fix a white balance issue, desaturate a vibrant shot, or create extra emphasis on any given place within your video footage.

10. Crop Your Video to a Region of Interest

Cropping your video can add a great level of focus to your work. You could go into the settings and adjust the crop size by typing in an exact size, but it could take forever to get just the crop you want. Instead, go to Composition → Composition Setting and select “region of interest”. Now you can drag a box around the exact space you want to use as your crop.

There are so many incredible tools already built into After Effects and they can help make your videos pop like never before. Whether you need to up your colors, manipulate your audio, or anything in between, After Effects has tons of options that can make your work look and sound professional.

After Effects is a very powerful video editing tool and it’s even more useful when you know all the little things it can do. Try out any of these tips the next time you edit a video and see for yourself how much of a difference they can make.

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