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5 After Effects Tools You Don’t Use…But You Should!


There are so many different tools for After Effects that it can often feel overwhelming. How can you get the most out of the software without breaking the bank? For those in the know, some of the best tools already exist within the program itself.

In this tutorial, School of Motion TA Sara Wade walks you through some underused and under-appreciated tools that are native to After Effects. Learn to fix text, smooth paths, and streamline layers in no time at all!

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Auto-Generated Transcript Below 👇

Sara Wade (00:00): After effects has a wide range of built-in tools that can quickly become overwhelming. Let’s narrow your focus with these five tips that can help save time. Hey everybody, Sara Wade here to talk about five built-in after effects tools that you really should be using, but you probably aren’t by the end of this video, your workflow should feel more streamlined. So let’s check these out

Sara Wade (00:35): First. We’re going to take a look at something called this layer dot name. Even if you’re not an expressions guru, this one’s going to be super useful. Maybe even more useful than our good old friend, the wiggle expression. First, I’m going to twirl open this text layer, named school of motion. I’m going to twirl. Open the text and alt click the stopwatch to add an expression. Then I’m going to just type in this, lowercase, this capital L and layer. This is called camel case, and it’s really important that you get the capitalization, right? You see how after effects is trying to fill it in for me, I’m going to type in a semi-colon there. Now, whatever I named this layer is going to show up as the text there right now, it says school of motion. But if I select the layer and hit enter, I can rename this layer to say, school of motion loves you. So this is going to be super useful, especially if you end up with projects with a ton of text and a client that likes to change things on you at the last minute, this is going to make what would have been a two to three step process. Just one step.

Sara Wade (01:45): The next tool I want to show you is actually two tools when used in combination that are really, really powerful. The first one is the motion sketch panel, and I can get to that by going to window and right down here to motion sketch, which opens up this panel. Let’s go ahead and make a circle that we can animate hit control alt home to center the anchor point there. And now that start capture is active. I’m going to leave it at the default settings capture speed at 100 smoothing at one. Now in the motion sketch panel, I’m going to hit start capture. And then I’m just going to left click and drag this shape layer to create a path. So now I’ve got this really cool motion path. And all I had to do was draw it with my mouse. So you may notice this path has a ton of points.

Sara Wade (02:32): It’s not quite as smooth as I wanted. So I’m going to use the smoother to smooth that out. I can get to the smoother tool by again, going to the window menu, going down here to smoother. You can see it pops up over here. Now I’ve still got this layer with the past selected. So what I’m going to do is leave spatial path as the selection. And I’m going to type in as an example, 25 and hit apply. Now look at that beautiful, smooth animation. I can go in there now and grab those Bezier handles. If I want to drag it out and edit the path, we made that path rather quickly, but we can adjust the path with these Bezier handles and even move the key frames around. Then you can play with the timing by holding Alton. Left-click, all the capabilities are still there making this a really powerful tool.

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By: School of Motion
Title: 5 After Effects Tools You Don”t Use…But You Should!
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