After Effects Preview

Coolest. Effects. Ever.

This preview tutorial series preps students to learn how to integrate Adobe After Effects into their video workflow. While there is no Adobe Certified Associate yet for this software, we here on the ACATestPrep/Brainbuffet team have been working with Adobe on developing standards and expect to see a NEW ACA exam within the next year or so! This is of course, is not our decision to make- but we get the feeling there’s support from both Certiport and Adobe and suspect it will happen!

Keep checking back- this tutorial set will soon be available to our members to preview!


Kaiden Barlow; Digital Compositor
Joe Dockery

Joe Dockery

Video Kingpin!

Joe Dockery teaches digital arts courses at Mount Si High School in the Snoqualmie Valley School District, Washington. He weaves community service into all aspects of his curriculum to ensure his students receive authentic learning experiences. Dockery also consults and trains nationwide on the use and integration of Adobe software.

Special Note For Teachers:

Editing video with Premiere Pro or After Effects will probably challenge your computer lab computers. It’s really important to have the right system setup for working with video! We recommend that you read this article from Adobe on “Improving Performance” when using After Effects. You might even want to share this with your tech people that help you manage your lab.

We worked hard to keep the sample files (76 mb) for this course simple and small but it is still a good idea to have the class download one copy of the zip file and then distribute it through your school network or a bunch of flash drives. This might take a few minutes to download depending on your network speed. Downloading once and sharing locally will reduce the chances of crashing your network or getting our site blocked at your school or testing center.
Pacing Guide

We developed a pacing guide for the course that should help you in planning your delivery of the material. Remember that every student will work through the material at a different pace so try to build in some extra credit opportunities for your speedsters.


Project 1 - Introduction


PSST! You will need the sample files folder before you get started. Talk with your teacher about downloading so you can get a copy!
Introduction to After Effects
File management
Importing and organizing media
Interface overview

Quiz 1


Project 2 - Rightside Car Wash Commercial


Project 3 - Animated Quote

Project 3 – Company Slogan


Configuring non-visible design tools
Using non-visible design tools to layout composition
Animating with the scale transformation
Using the graph editor
Exporting with Adobe Media Encoder

Challenge Project:

Find a short quote or goal statement to animate. Make sure to practice moving the anchor point and putting a little bounce in your scale.

Quiz 3


Project 4 - Mountain Outfitters Commercial

Project 4 – Mountain Outfitters Commercial

Applying and adjusting effects
Converting vector graphics to shape layers
Animating with the rotation transformation
Exporting using the render queue

Challenge Project:

Take a photograph of your favorite club, sport or class to use as the background for this challenge project. Then animate some text or a logo onto the background using rotation and at least one other transformation property.

Quiz 4


5 - Mount Baker Commercial

Project 5 – Mount Baker Commercial

Using guides to layout design
Working with typographical options
Animating with the position transformation – Spacial Interpolation
Animating with the position transformation – Mt Baker Project
Using a track matte
Exporting – Multiple exports with the Media Encoder

Challenge Project:

Take a selfie or use a great photograph of yourself as the background. Then animate your name onto the project using a track matte and position keyframes.

Quiz 5


6 - Cool Credits

Project 6 – Cool Credits

Storyboarding with a client
Working with text
Creating a new workspace
Animating with the anchor and scale transformations
Adjusting a motion path and easying keyframes
Exporting and challenge projects

Challenge Project:

Find or take a photograph of a large group of objects, people or other things. This really helps if you start with a high-resolution image. Then zoom in/out of several locations using the anchor point and scale.

Quiz 6


7 -Travel Map

Project 7 – Travel Map

Planning Your Route
Starting Your Map
Designing a path
Animating the path with the stroke effect
Animating the stars
Creating an expression controller
Duplicating visual elements
Exporting and challenge project example

Challenge Project Ideas:

This is your chance to be creative and practice the techniques, shortcuts, and workflow. Use your own images and try combining techniques for each of the lessons. This projects will be the video that you can add to your portfolio, they will be unique and personal so unleash your inner creative beast!

Option 1: Use your school map to create an animated clip that illustrates the emergency exit routes. You could also twist this into designing parking routes or bus flows. I bet your old elementary school would love one!  Example

Option 2: Design a treasure map and then animate at least 4 steps.

Quiz 7


7.5 - DVD Menu

Project 7.5 – DVD Menu

Project Setup
Animate Buttons
Animate Title
Title Tweaks
Adjustment Layers
Sound Effects
Exporing to DVD

No quiz for this project! You get a break this time, but make sure you know this stuff! 🙂


8 -3D Projects

Project 8 – 3D Effects

Creating 3D Text
Working with Lights
Animating a 3D object
Working with complex shape layers
Animating your logo

Challenge Project:

Find a vector image of your school mascot or favorite pro team. Convert it into a 3D logo and animate it.

Quiz 8


10 - DJ Project

Project 10 – DJ Project

Organizing the project panel
Project panel options
Blend modes
Keying out green screen with Keylight
Green screen shooting techniques
Obtaining permissions from models and “Greeking”
Motion Tracking the eye
Masking tools and techniques
Time remapping
Animating the mask

Challenge Projects:

Option 1: Try combining a variety of photos, video and text using blend modes and mattes to create a cool moving title for a project.
Option 2: Shoot your own green screen footage and practice using Keylight to replace the background.
Option 3: Take a photograph of your stereo and a snippet of a cool song to replicate this activity.

Quiz 10


11 - Sounds Awesome

Project 11 – Sounds Awesome!

Animating text on a path
Connecting an effect to an audio track
Converting audio to keyframes
Using an expression to animate an effect to the audio keyframes
Using Adobe Media Encoder to add meta data to your exports

Challenge Project:

Create a 10 second intro for your school television broadcast that includes at least one thing that is connected to the music. Try the audio waves effect and make sure to animate a little text on a path.

Quiz 11


12 - Master Of Puppets

Project 12 – Master of Puppets

Laying out the project
Puppet pin tool
Puppet starch tool
Puppet Overlap tool
Animating with the puppet tool

Challenge Project:

Find a photo of your favorite actor or cartoon character and use Photoshop to cut them out. Save the file as a .png file with a transparent background. Then use the puppet tool to animate the image.

Quiz 12

After Effects Practice Test

Quiz yourself on EVERY question in all the After Effects quizzes here on ACATestPrep! Great practice and review for the real thing- and remember, when you miss a question… DON’T JUST MEMORIZE THE ANSWER! Figure out why you missed it, and if you aren’t totally solid on the concept, review the video that covered the concept.

Certification is a nice piece of paper to have… but only because it opens doors to make movies for a living!!! Make sure you know what you need to know to have fun with After Effects as a hobby or a career! BOOM!

Support Materials

Quizlets: These are great as individual or partner study tools. You can download the app on your smart phone and study anytime!

Kahoots: These are great as a whole class study tool. You can use them as an exit assessment or review before the exam. It will even give you a spreadsheet of your student results if you want to use it as a formative assessment tool.

Study Guides: We have created some .pdf study guides that you can download or print off as references or study guides throughout the course. They focus on the keyboard shortcuts and After Effects Interface.