Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.
George Bernard Shaw
This chapter examines the flow of data through After Effects in specific detail. I realize that description might not sound utterly gripping, but once you learn to efficiently use the features that affect the order and conditions in which things happen, After Effects will help you work faster and solve thorny problems.
At times, you must be the digital compositor version of a master chefsomeone who knows what has to be finished before something else can be started, and what can be prepped and considered "done" before it's time to serve the final result. At other times, you must think like a programmer. You have to isolate and "debug" elements of your project when the result doesn't look anything like what was planned. This chapter helps you reach both goals.
In the big picture, the keys to mastering the After Effects data pipeline are
This chapter will help you get After Effects running closer to real time, so that you're less likely to give your client the lame excuse that your shot is late because After Effects is still rendering. Efficient rendering, however, depends on well-organized compositions and plenty of advanced planning.
Navigating Multiple Compositions
Section I. Working Foundations
The 7.0 Workflow
Selections: The Key to Compositing
Optimizing Your Projects
Section II. Effects Compositing Essentials
Rotoscoping and Paint
Effective Motion Tracking
Film, HDR, and 32 Bit Compositing
Section III. Creative Explorations
Working with Light
Climate: Air, Water, Smoke, Clouds
Pyrotechnics: Fire, Explosions, Energy Phenomena
Learning to See