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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Adobe After Effects CS5 Classroom in a Book » User review

A clear and thorough introduction to the basics of After Effects CS5, including its newest features

  • Aug 1, 2010

While some software guides simply add a few new sections to reflect upgrades, this book has been thoroughly rewritten and could easily stand alone as a solid introduction to After Effects. As you would expect in a guide published by Adobe, this "official training workbook" has been thoroughly revised to reflect what's new in Adobe After Effects CS5. It begins with the basics, but includes chapters on the new rotobrush, on color correction with the new Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse 3 plugin, on building 3d objects within After Effects, and on using mocha to track motion. So this would be a nice refresher for those who haven't used After Effects in a while, and a great introduction for those who are just starting out with After Effects now. For a more thorough introduction to some of the basic features of After Effects, it would be good to supplement this with After Effects Apprentice.

I like that the book opens up by having you complete some actual animations before it really gets into the technical details of how to set up a workspace and the like. They do a nice job throughout of balancing introductions to the magic of After Effects with delivery of the nitty gritty details you have to know to make it work properly. They also do a very good job introducing the reader to "best practices" - ways of doing things that keep your workspace clean and well organized, and make it easy to find what you need. Occasionally they leave out things that will be obvious to those who've worked with AE before but might confuse newcomers - for example when they first have the reader work on a motion path, they assume it will be visible, but don't mention that if it isn't by default you need to click on the button in the Comp panel to make it visible.

The approach the authors take in this book is mostly just to lead the reader through creating several ready-made projects (whose basic elements have already been created, and are available on the included dvd) that will introduce them to a range of possible tweaks and procedures and effects. There isn't always as much explanation as I'd have liked - and sometimes it feels like following a recipe, that simply says "do this, and then that" and doesn't always explain the whys of each step, or what would happen if things were done differently. The main advantage of this approach is that it allows a beginner to see quickly some of the many things that can be done with After Effects. The disadvantage is that after going through things this quickly, the reader would not be very well prepared to apply similar effects in different projects without guidance. (This was especially evident in the Puppet Warp chapter, where they had the reader animate a cartoon character using the Puppet Warp tool, but instead of leading readers through the qualitative process of figuring out how to animate the character they just gave numbers for the positions of each body part at different times - so it was really a matter of just typing in lots of numbers rather than learning how to make it work and look right.) I think it would be stronger if they gave more exercises designed to help the reader put what they've learned into practice on projects that had more flexibility; in that sense, this guide is not as strong as After Effects Apprentice.

At the same time, for someone new to After Effects with CS5, I think this would be a very good introduction, because it does lead the reader through not only the standard skills you need to work with After Effects effectively, but also through several of its newest features, something that you wouldn't get from, say, After Effects Apprentice. In fact, if it could be managed, I'd suggest that an ideal beginner's course in After Effects CS5 would begin with this book as a way of getting into the program, and getting exposure to the range of its features, and then following that up with After Effects Apprentice to get a more in depth and flexible, practical introduction to the basics. For those who already have some experience with After Effects and want a refresher course, or for those who are just getting started with After Effects CS5 and want a fast introduction to what is possible, this book alone might not be a bad way to go. There are several things I learned from working through this book even though I've had some experience working with After Effects, and have worked through a few other books and several tutorials. The new material that addresses After Effects CS5 comes in chapters 9 and beyond, addressing the Roto Brush, the advanced color correction possible with Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse 3, the latest 3d and advanced tracking possibilities.

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Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #68
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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About this book


Those creative professionals seeking the fastest, easiest, most comprehensive way to learn Adobe After Effects CS5 choose Adobe After Effects CS5 Classroom in a Book from the Adobe Creative Team at Adobe Press. The 14 project-based lessons in this book show readers step-by-step the key techniques for working in After Effects CS5 and how to work efficiently and deliver in the widest possible range of media types. In addition to learning the key elements of the After Effects interface, this completely revised CS5 edition covers 64-bit performance; new Mocha, Color Finesse 3, and Digieffects FreeForm plug-ins; Roto Brush; AVC-Intra and expanded RED camera support; and more.

“The Classroom in a Book series is by far the best training material on the market. Everything you need to master the software is included: clear explanations of each lesson, step-by-step instructions, and the project files for the students.” —Barbara Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor, Rocky Mountain Training

Classroom in a Book®, the best-selling series of hands-on software training workbooks, helps you learn the features of Adobe software quickly and easily. Classroom in a Book offers what no other book or training program does—an official training series from Adobe Systems Incorporated, developed with the support of Adobe product experts.
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ISBN-10: 0321704495
ISBN-13: 978-0321704498
Author: Adobe Creative Team
Genre: Computers & Internet
Publisher: Adobe Press
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