Visual Effects for Educators 2019

Week 1 - Green Screen

This was an interesting assignment. I've done green screen before, but it's been years since I've made an actual green screen effect.

AfterEffects worked mostly as I expected. I did find some issues working on creating the mask. What I saw was definitely not what I outlined. I don't feel confident using the mask to achieve future effects. Other than that, I truly enjoyed using the Puppet pin and transformation tools.

Curious to see what other quick effects we can learn with AfterEffects.

Week 2 - Motion Tracking

​Well, this was definitely challenging. I think I aimed too high with trying to follow my friend's dog. I could see some crazy patterns forming in the tracking points. I tried to adjust the position and rotation but it lost the motion of tracking the subject. It appears I could change all the points frame by frame, but I'm thinking there has to be a better way to adjust a tracking path.

In the end, I wanted to make something original. It was a noble effort, but not really what I was hoping to achieve.

Would like to learn more about tracking position.

Week 3 - New Environment

​This was a little frustrating. Spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out that Mark was on the Standard panel. Mine was set up to Default. Other than that. I get the basic idea but I still found all the steps to be confusing.

It was nice to use the track motion again, but all the layers and different mattes were confusing. Cool to finally use Parent & Link. Just wish there was a clearer explanation to the function of having 3 different layers of the same layer. Don't think I can recreate this without watching the video multiple times.

Week 4 - Motion Text

This was incredibly fun. I had thought about doing my own content, but ended up using the clouds in the end. Opted to tint orange and some yellow along with a Zelda logo.

My biggest struggles came from locating certain features in AfterEffects. Took me over 30 mins to find where to toggle to make a layer 3D. Also had some technical difficulties with the top window menu. Found out online that holding ALT and clicking the bottom right of the app window reset the top menu. A lot of unexpected surprises.

Unlike the previous week, this one was more straightforward and easier to replicate, even with all the technical difficulties. After Effects is indeed one giant beast. Must practice more.

Week 5 - Sci-Fi composition

​This was pretty cool. It sucks that I just now started feeling comfortable with all the different layers and screens. But, it's a good motivator to keep learning After Effects. It has a come a long way from when I first used it 20 years ago.

I really enjoyed this assignment and wish we had more of these type of assignments in the future.

Final Reflection

This has been a really fun and sometimes complex course. Adobe After Effects is incredibly powerful and rather user friendly, but the multiple hidden menus, windows and displays make it hard to work with at times.

I found myself struggling with locating windows and displays more than understanding the different functionality of the effects, transformations, keyframes or even modes.

If I were to incorporate a visual effects project in a curriculum, I'd definitely do a course on identifying the After Effects workspace. I would dedicate an entire session to getting familiar with the multiple hidden menus or how to toggle between screens.

The actual 1st assignment I would have is probably a titles one, followed by a green screen one and then a motion one. I can see students being interested in transformation effects or live text on the screen.

Even with all my struggles, I feel a lot more confident in using After Effects. I think I would benefit from an intermediate and advanced course at this point.

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