After Effects Apprentice: Expressions

Our latest video training course on is a gentle introduction to one of the most powerful yet underused features in After Effects

As we mentioned earlier, we're in the process of recording our book After Effects Apprentice as a series of training videos, where you get to look over our shoulders and hear what we're thinking as we work through each lesson. Our latest installment is on the subject of Expressions: The ability to define how a parameter animates using instructions such as “wiggle” compared to explicitly keyframing every value.

In this gentle introduction, Chris shows you how to let After Effects do most of the work while creating simple but very useful expressions that you can put to work on a wide variety of jobs. After showing you how needlessly complex accommodating clients changes can be if you rely solely on keyframes, he shows how to create and manage expressions, and use simple math to alter their basic functionality. He then covers three of his favorite expressions: translating between differing parameter ranges, the ability to loop an animation, and using “wiggle” to add some randomization to virtually any parameter. You can watch the overview above.

By the way, we didn't make a big fuss of it when it came out, but last month we also released our Apprentice course on Nesting and Precomposing. Although some users try to do everything inside one composition, the thoughtful use of multiple compositions can make it easier to reuse common elements, quickly deal with client changes, and re-wire the internal rendering order After Effects normally follows. Here's its overview:

The content contained in After Effects Apprentice – as well as the CMG Blogs and CMG Keyframes posts on ProVideoCoalition – are copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.



Chris and Trish Meyer

Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, HBO, PBS, and TLC; in opening titles for several movies including Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley; at trade shows and press events for corporate clients ranging from Apple to Xerox; and in special venues encompassing IMAX, CircleVision, the NBC AstroVision sign in Times Square, and the four-block-long Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas. They were among the original users of CoSA (now Adobe) After Effects, and have written the numerous books including “Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects” and “After Effects Apprentice” both published by Focal Press. Both Chris and Trish have backgrounds as musicians, and are currently fascinated with exploring fine art and mixed media in addition to their normal commercial design work. They have recently relocated from Los Angeles to the mountains near Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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