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Adobe After Effects Review

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Aug 17, 22, updated Dec 05, 23

Make cinematic films, movies, intros, and transitions. Delete people from clips. Start fires or create a foggy weather. With Adobe After Effects, the industry-standard motion graphics and visual effects software, you are able to take any idea and make it come to life. Animate titles, credits, and lower thirds. Begin editing from scratch or with presets available. Combine photos and video footage to create anything you can think of.

Choose amazing effects from hundreds of options, remove unwanted parts from the frame, people or objects, and make VR videos to push your audience into the action. This software lets professionals configure keyframes, allow them to create compositing operations. Features of Adobe After Effects include a content library, digital asset management, video rendering, data import/export, and much more. In this article we will give you a brief overview of what After Effects is, what it's used for and by who and the overall experience!

With that said, let's get started!

adobe after effects review
In this article
  1. 1. Speed and Stability
  2. 2. User Interface
  3. 3. Learning Curve
  4. 4. VFX
  5. 5. Motion Graphics
  6. 6. Titles and Outros
  7. 7. Workflow
  8. 8. Rendering Speed
  9. 9. System Requirements for Windows
  10. 10. System Requirements for macOS
  11. 11. Keyboard Shortcuts
  12. 12. Should You Buy It?

1. Speed and Stability

When talking about speed and stability, After Effects has the latest release packed with improvements. All the developers have focused themselves on speed and also performance. The team at Adobe have worked very hard to make this application more responsive and when we go along in this article, that can be seen in many ways

The main improvement which is immediately clear to all users, is the renewed preview playback optimization. What we noticed is that After Effects is creating the ram preview for your projects a lot faster. However, while working with the software for this article, we did find the user interface to be more responsive, the playback is way smoother, so is it a lot more stable overall.

While using shape layers, there was a significant improvement. A few expressions are a lot faster. This alone is worth upgrading to the latest version of After Effects.

speed and stability

2. User Interface

The After Effects interface is constructed up of four main parts. The Timeline panel, the Project panel, the Composition panel and the Effects panel.

The Timeline Panel

In the Timeline panel, you edit all the footage and clips to create your rough cut. You can find the Timeline panel on the bottom of the workspace.

The Project Panel

It's pretty straightforward that in the Project panel you import your footage and create your project. This is located on the top left of the standard After Effects workspace.

The Composition Panel

The Composition panel is where you will see the final product. This is located in the middle of your workspace.

The Effects Panel

In order to make creative changes to your video, use the preview, audio, effects, and Preset Panels. These panels are located on the upper right area of your workspace, each one also has its dropdown.

3. Learning Curve

The learning curve for After Effects depends on your background, the best way to find out if you like it is starting a free trial. Go through some tutorials online or paid courses. You'll also want to spend time with the User Guide. The Search Help field in the top right corner provides you an easier search for answers to most questions that you have. Speaking of YouTube and online learning, most of the video tutorials you will find have been created by people that are experienced in After Effects and know their way around it.

4. VFX

There's a time-period when video editors require strengthening their skills, calling it imperative software for improving editing skills is nowhere near an exaggeration. it really helps prospective professionals improve their learning experience through visual effects, camera tracking, text animation, motion tracking, color grading, etc. All of these methodologies do help in improving the VFX learning process in the long run.

Video editing happens to be a crucial part of film production. Making videos in a fantastic process can indulge in building professional videos via motion graphics animation. This is where Adobe After Effects become an excellent learning tool.

5. Motion Graphics

Motion graphics can sound quite scary. It's a new term for a specific genre of animation. Motion graphics is the intersection between animation and graphic design. These are purpose-driven visual aspects with the goal of showing information to the viewer through the use of animated graphics or text. Sometimes they include voice-overs narrating what the text or graphics are showing. Where it gets a little complex is that the more popular the term motion graphics becomes, the more people are misaligning animations to it. They need to represent information and illustrate the idea to the viewer clearly, so they do that using animation and motion graphics.

6. Titles and Outros

Adobe released a new combination of features for you. For Adobe Stock: Graphics templates. Those pre-made templates give you a super smooth way to discover new motion graphics within Premiere Pro, without needing to spend time creating titles, overlays, or animations from scratch. The world has digitalized, and videos often need visual aspects such as titles, lower thirds, to present information. The templates not only assist video editors increase the quality of the content by showing certain information, but they also give a strong visual touch to keep the viewer engaged throughout the video. The audience nowadays is a lot more sophisticated, meaning that motion graphics are a necessity in a driven media world.

Motion Graphics templates are valuable for video editors of all levels. For the beginning content creators, the templates offer great quality, ready-made footage to help their creative goal. They can explore and work on their skills. Motion graphics that are pre-made are an excellent way to express the vision and express inspiration to new opportunities.

So now that you are aware of what After Effects templates are, we can move on to the actual workflow, why it is important, and how to use it as efficient as possible.

7. Workflow

Whether you are using Adobe After Effects to create motion graphics, or composite realistic visuals, you usually follow the same workflow, you may repeat the process of adjusting layer properties, editing, and compositing until everything looks good. You can change any property of any element, such as position, opacity and size. Make use of motion tracking to stabilize footage so that it follows the motion from another clip, and so much more!

8. Rendering Speed

When it comes to exporting your project in After Effects, you don't need to buy an expensive workstation. You can speed up your rendering process from your own laptop without investing too much and by using the following tips we have for you below!

Tip #1: Enable Multiprocessing

What exactly is multiprocessing? That is when After Effects uses multiple cores from your CPU to export multiple frames at once. If your processor has one or more cores, you can enable this feature to reduce your rendering time. We want to mention that you need to check whether or not this option is turned on. Once enabled, you'll see a great decrease in export time.

To enable Multiprocessing, navigate to Preferences > Memory & Multiprocessing. Then you click the check box next to 'Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously' and remember also to adjust the settings that you need.

Tip #2: Optimize Your RAM Usage

The RAM memory inside your workstation can be used to write and read data at a lot higher speeds than regular hard drives and portable drives. Configuring your RAM in a system is one of the easiest upgrades for better performance. Giving you affordable solutions for both desktop and laptop systems, the RAM memory upgrade does not require a lot of knowledge. The more RAM you allow applications to use, the higher the performance you will get out of it.

It also shows a noticeable increase in rendering speed. When the export time in your work is longer than needed, look at your RAM memory and see if you can make the necessary changes or upgrades.

Tip #3: Use the Media Encoder

Let's talk about the Media Encoder. It's the software that comes up with Adobe Creative Cloud products such as After Effects and Premiere Pro to simplify the export process. You can easily render your project from After Effects to Adobe Media Encoder and begin the project render process from that point on. The Media Encoder will increase your rendering performance and will significantly decrease rendering time.

Tip #4: Disable Ray-Traced 3D

The included After Effects Ray-Traced 3D feature enables you to produce 3D models within After Effects without any struggle. Calculating all the motions and visual graphics is such a heavy process for your workstation. When you disable raytracing, you will get a faster export time. By looking that 'Classic 3D' is checked instead of 'Ray-Traced 3D' from your composition preferences, you can speed your rendering speed up to 50%. Isn't that incredible?

disable ray traced 3d

Tip #5: Activate GPU Exporting with Cuda Acceleration

Exporting your videos with GPU rather than CPU will increase the efficiency of your render process. The export length will decrease a whole lot when you activate Mercury GPU Acceleration, also known as 'CUDA' from the 'Project Settings'.

After Effects doesn't really require CUDA features from a special kind of Nvidia GPU. Only the GPU accelerated 3D renderer, that is based on the raytracing algorithm, requires that. The other GPU features are running on any GPU that meets the basic minimums, including Intel and AMD GPUs.

9. System Requirements for Windows

These are the minimum specifications needed to use After Effects on PC:

OS: Windows 10 (64-bit) versions 1909 and later, or Windows 11

CPU: Intel or AMD Quad-Core Processor (Intel i5 and i7 will do the job)

RAM: 16 GB

Monitor resolution: 1280 x 1080

An internet connection

Free storage: 15 GB

GPU: Minimum 2 GB of VRAM

10. System Requirements for macOS

OS: macOS 10.13 or later

RAM: 16 GB

CPU: Intel and Apple Silicon (Rosetta2 Supported) Quad-Core Processor


Monitor resolution: 1440×900

Free storage: 15 GB

An internet connection

11. Keyboard Shortcuts

You can work visually when you configure your keyboard shortcuts with the visual keyboard shortcut editor within After Effects. You can use the keyboard user interface to show the keys that have been assigned to shortcuts, the available keys for assignment, and edit assigned shortcuts to make your workflow even easier.

keyboard shortcuts

The keyboard layout:

This is a representation of your physical keyboard where you can see which keys have been assigned a shortcut, and which are available.

Command list:

The list displays all the commands that can be assigned shortcuts.

Key modifier list:

This list shows you all the modifier combinations and assigned shortcuts associated with the key you select on your physical keyboard.

After Effects does not allow you to reassign the following keys:

  • A
  • AA
  • E
  • EE
  • F
  • FF
  • L
  • LL
  • M
  • MM
  • P
  • PP
  • R
  • RR
  • S
  • SS
  • T
  • TT
  • U
  • UU

12. Should You Buy It?

Well first, you cannot buy After Effects, Premiere Pro or other software from Adobe. You have to rent them by paying monthly. After Effects is primarily a compositing and graphics software. Premiere is primarily a video editing program. In the case of After Effects and Premiere Pro, it's not really an either/or. They're both software with different purposes. After Effects is a lot more powerful and essentially showcases most of Premiere's functionality, but according to our experience, the Premiere Pro interface and workflow is way more superior for video editing.

Premiere Pro is essentially built around its timeline, the region where you cut your video clips and drag and place them into your appropriate sequence. Hollywood filmmakers and professional YouTube content creators are using Premiere Pro to edit high-performing content and award-winning films. The software is very intuitive and easy for beginners to start with.

Are going to work with After Effects to create an income? Or are just going to use it for a hobby? It's crucial to mention that question because Adobe After Effects is not something that is cheaply available. You will be investing much money on the program, and if you are working to use the software, paying a good amount, and earning nothing in return, then you might want to shift to another alternative which would cost you less. For instance, let's assume you are using the application to earn an income, and have a few low-paying clients. In such a situation, you will have to rethink your options of software and analyze whether what you are paying in comparison to what you are getting is enough for you or not. We all are different individuals and have different preferences. Once we can see what is more important to us, or what is our need at this moment, then we will be able to judge the worth of purchasing Adobe After Effects better.

Are you going to use After Effects to earn an income? Or are just using it as a hobby? It is very important to address this question because Adobe After Effects is not something cheaply accessible. You will be investing a lot of money into this software, if you are using the software while paying a good amount and earning nothing in return yet, then you could shift to a different alternative which will cost you a lot less. Let's say you are using After Effects to earn an income and have some low-paying work. In that case, you will have to reconsider your options of video editing software and look at whether what you are paying in comparison to what you are getting is possible for you. When we can see what is more important to us, we will be able to see the worth of buying After Effects.

Did you previously use After Effects or are you new to the program? The return that you will get using Adobe After Effects, depends on how good you know how to work with the options, functions and features in the software.

The Bottom Line

So summing it all together, Adobe After Effects takes care of all your assets and creates a final product, considering that After Effects is usually an asset-generation tool. Most video editors complete their projects in After Effects non-stop. It's excellent for making visual videos come to life.

AE version 22.3 is very impressive. Giving you a wealth of new features created to make VFX editing a lot faster and easier. Offering new features on a regular basis, improving their subscription model making it more attractive. Especially if you're a professional editor and designer.

Once you get comfortable with Adobe After Effects, you learn how to dynamically combine After Effects compositions to your Premiere projects. You are able to access both assets at the same time if needed!

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Dec 05, 23
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