Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lightsabers: The First Effect I Learned in AE

I've used After Effects since 2009, right before I started high school. I got into After Effects because I wanted to learn how to make my own Star Wars fan films, particularly involving the infamous lightsabers. I was inspired by a fellow VFX artist that I found through YouTube named Ryan Wieber. I first saw his famous youtube lightsaber fights titled: Ryan vs. Dorkman. Then I watched his tutorial from WAY back in the day (like early 2000s) on how to make lightsaber glows in Photoshop and After Effects. It inspired me to want to get after effects and start making my own effects for my movies. 

So I got an EDU discounted copy of AE CS4, and started making effects for my own videos. It did take some time for me to get use to the technique (let alone the program). I think I watched the saber tutorial at least a dozen times before I was able to memorize it by heart. And then I think it took about a year for me to understand the program in its most basic format. 
Here are some samples of my earliest saber effects in AE:

And then as the years went by I kept practicing with AE, and slowly but surely, I got the hang of making a good lightsaber. 
Here are some more samples from a few years after the previous ones:

But obviously, I couldnt just limit myself to lightsabers. I had to expand my skills to other effects. So then I started to watch tutorials from Andrew Kramer and Ryan Connolly of VideoCopilot and Film Riot. And I learned how to make all kinds of different effects.
Such as:

This particular post is not meant in anyway to show off anything or be a portfolio. I just wanted to share what my journey to learning After Effects was like, and what I did to learn the program. It took me a very long time to understand the program the way I know it now, and I'm still always learning new things about After Effects that I never really thought about in my earlier days. I'm in no ways a true master like Andrew Kramer is. I also really want to practice making effects and graphics in other advanced programs beyond just After Effects, like Maya (which we are learning in class currently), 3DS Max, Fusion, Nuke, and more.

I hope this post was inspiring in some way to those who might still be a little bit intimidated by AE. But dont worry, if you take some time and practice enough with it, make stuff that you think is cool (like I did with lightsabers), you'll get the hang of it in no time!

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