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Wednesday, 26 September 2012 19:28

The “Wow” Factor of Adobe’s After Effects Templates

Written by  David Hurd
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adobe_after_effects_cs6_iconI think we can all agree that Adobe After Effects CS6 is a powerful tool that skilled After Effects artists can wield like a magic wand. The problem is that it takes a while for us to develop these skills. What if there were shortcuts that would allow you to easily make expensive-looking animated logos without having to fully understand After Effects CS6? Actually, there is — they’re called After Effects Templates and some of them can be found on the Adobe Website.

The cool thing about using After Effects templates is that you can create some amazing-looking animation without being an After Effects expert. Also, you’ll find that the templates are all reasonably priced and sometimes even free! Let’s start with the freebies. The first ones that come to mind are the simpler free templates from Free After Effects (AE) Templates. These can get you started without spending any money. And DropDrop offers After Effects templates that you can drop your video and text into to quickly create quick, nice animations. Their templates range from mild to wild, so there’s a wide range to choose from.

The “Insert Text Here” After Effects templates from RevoStock are reasonably priced, and, like the name implies, you can just type in the text you want to animate and the After Effects template does the rest. It’s just that easy. I found them to be really simple-to-use templates that deliver great-looking results. After you build your skills a bit you can move on to more expensive and really complex After Effects templates, like the Flashback, which is sold through RevoStock but created by MDMotion. Some of these templates have over 100 layers, and they look absolutely awesome. What you’re paying for is the many long hours the After Effects artist spent creating the project file in order for you to look like a genius (when in reality, you just tweaked the file a bit). This can be great for both you and your client. If the client doesn’t know that you didn’t spend days creating their masterpiece, they should be happy to pay for the hours that you actually worked on it (plus the cost of the After Effects template). Everybody wins! The client gets a high-dollar project and you make money, even if you don’t have much in the way of After Effects skills.

Footage Firm has projects on DVD that I found to be both impressive and easy to use. The company offers a wide range of manageable templates with titles like Sizzle, Tech, Expressive and Adventure. For most templates, there’s no easy way to see a thumbnail of the final comp, but Digital Juice has a lot of AFX templates that work with their Juicer software. I found it helpful to see the different thumbnails in the Juicer before selecting a template that would work for my particular project.

Next are the Red Giant tutorial videos that are complete with After Effects templates. You can download trial versions of the RG software needed to make these templates work properly. To see some of the power of Red Giant software applied to AFX templates, check out video episodes 71 and 73. I think that it was very nice of Red Giant to take the time to make videos for their products because watching them is so much easier than learning these tricks on your own — it’s like taking classes for free. I use the Magic Bullet, Trapcode, Keying and Effects suites from Red Giant. Sometimes they’re needed as part of the tutorials and sometimes I just get creative by adding them as effects to clips in the After Effects templates. Most of them work in Premiere Pro CS6 as well, so you can use what you’ve learned while using the effects in After Effects.

All this may look a bit overwhelming at first, but it gets easier. Keep in mind that as you’re watching and following along with the tutorials, you’re also learning and building your After Effects skills. Give yourself some time to work with the After Effects templates. Maybe just set aside 30 minutes a day, and soon you’ll be able to knock out a fancy logo in five minutes.

One of the exciting things about After Effects CS6 is the ability to use CUDA processing. Large, complex projects can literally take days or even weeks to render, but CUDA processing can really speed up the process. The computer that I used for this review is the first DataBrick NLE prototype from Savage IO, which is probably the fastest NLE that you can buy off the shelf, especially for CS6 workflows. You can check it out at the Savage IO Website as soon as it’s finished. I tested the system with a pair of NVIDIA Quadro 4000 cards that I had on hand, but the DataBrick NLE will use the NVIDIA Maximus system, which is a Quadro 4000 card for processing the computer graphics, and a NVIDIA Tesla card for the CUDA processing. The Tesla card has 400 CUDA cores that do nothing but speed up Adobe products, like After Effects CS6. The CUDA processing in these cards also take the pressure off of the 12 computer CPUs, allowing for a faster workflow.

The Maximus system starts at under $3,000. If that sounds a bit pricy, it’s because it is — but you’ll get what you pay for. There are less expensive cards but the Maximus system is made for professionals who need their system to be reliable. My friends at Adobe tell me that they spend more time on their Maximus card drivers to ensure that they work seamlessly with professional applications.

The DataBrick NLE starts with 64GB or RAM, and when I looked in the memory preferences in CS6, all but 6GB was available for the Adobe After Effects program that I was running. When I went to render a 1080 project, I was amazed at how much faster it was than my 12-core 2.93GHz Apple Mac Pro. And since Apple seems to going away from the Mac Pro market, Adobe CS6 might just be the answer. Being able to send an After Effects project right to the timeline of Premiere Pro is certainly a timesaver, especially if the client wants changes. Since After Effects works well on both PCs and Macs, this will be an easy transition. With computers like the DataBrick NLE, it won’t really matter if Apple stops supporting the Mac Pro, because we’ll end up with a faster workflow anyway.

www.adobe.com

www.footagefirm.com

www.redgiantsoftware.com/videos/

www.savageio.com

www.freeaetemplates.net

www.dropdrop.com

www.revostock.com 

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