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How to use After Effects

Preliminary Information

Before explaining in detail how to use After Effects, let me introduce you to this software with some additional information that will surely be useful for you to proceed.

First, you need to know that After Effects has gods minimum requirements which must be respected in order to be installed and used. So make sure you are using Windows 10 in its version 1803 or later or macOS 10.13 or higher. If you are wondering how to find out the version of the operating system you are using on your computer, I recommend that you read my guide on how to see the version of Windows or, if you are using macOS, my guide on how to see the version of macOS.



After Effects then requires a 64bit multicore processor to work. You will also need to have at least 16GB RAM memory (although Adobe recommends 32GB) and a video card with 2GB of dedicated video memory. Finally, your screen must have a minimum resolution of 1440 × 900 pixels. If you don't know how to recover this information, don't worry: you can find instructions on how to do it in my guide on how to see the characteristics of your PC.

To proceed with the installation, make sure you have at least 6GB of free space on disk, although Adobe recommends reserving an additional 10GB of space for optimal use of After Effects. If you've run out of space and don't know how to free it, try reading my guide on how to free up disk space, I'm sure it will come in very handy.

Does your system meet the After Effects requirements? Optimal! So let me explain how you can get this very useful software. You must know, in fact, that since After Effects is a paid program, they exist different ways to try and buy it. Here are which ones.



First I want to inform you that Adobe allows you to try After Effects for free for seven days. Once the free trial is complete, you will need to purchase the software through one of the proposed subscriptions. All Adobe subscriptions require the sign up for an Adobe account (procedure that I will show you shortly) and remain linked to it until their conclusion.

The plans proposed by Adobe are many and they are flexible. In fact, you can choose to take out an annual subscription, payable monthly or in a single installment (equal to 24,39 euros / month), or to take out a monthly subscription at a slightly higher price. If you are one student or teacheryou can also get a substantial discount up to 65% on the total price. To find out the prices in detail, however, I suggest you visit the official Adobe subscription plans page.

How to download After Effects

At this point, I'd say you're ready to find out how to download after effects and start using it immediately. That you have a PC Windows or Mac, the next steps will explain to you how to install after effects in a free, simple and fast way.

As a first step, go to the After Effects download page and click the button Activate your free trial version. Then press the button Activate trial placed in the box referring to After Effects and, on the next page, enter your email address in the field Enter your email address.


You can also choose not to receive promotional communications via email by checking the box Do not contact me by mail placed above the button Continue. After doing this, click the button Continue.


To proceed with the After Effects download, you are prompted to enter a number of credit card or an account PayPal. You can choose whether to use the card or PayPal, by pressing on the menu Add payment method. Don't worry: there will be no immediate charge and you just need to cancel your trial subscription within seven days if you decide not to proceed with the actual purchase of the software.

In any case, to continue, enter the details of your credit card or your PayPal account in the appropriate fields. On this page you can also choose the type of subscription you would like to subscribe at the end of the trial period.

To do this, click on the menu Commitment placed in the right box and choose the type you prefer. Once you have filled in all the fields, press the button Start free trial period at the bottom of the page.

At this point, if you are an already registered user, you will be asked to enter your password to access the Adobe account. If, on the other hand, you are a new user, click on the button Set your password and enter your password in the corresponding field. Finally, press the button Continue.


As you have surely noticed, the download of the After Effects installer for your operating system has automatically started. At the end of the procedure, if you are using Windows, april il .exe file just got it. If, on the other hand, you are using MacOS, april il .dmg file obtained, start the executable After Effects Installer and enter your Mac admin password.

At this point, whether you have Windows or macOS, press the button Continue, to authenticate with yours Adobe account enabled for free trial. Once you have automatically received confirmation of login, close the browser window to return to the installation.


Fill in the field now My level of proficiency in After Effects is, then that I am and finally the field I'm downloading After Effects for, then press the button Continue. Finally, press the button Start installing and make yourself comfortable: Adobe's installer will download the necessary software and install After Effects without you having to do anything else.

After the installation is complete, After Effects will start automatically. At the first start, the software shows a short tutorial about the new functions available and the basic interface of the program. You can choose whether to watch it or skip them by closing the window using the button X located at the top right.

How After Effects Works

Now Adobe After Effects is installed, you are ready to find out how to use this very useful software. In fact, as you read the next few chapters, you will discover how to juggle the many functions of After Effects. Don't worry if you don't find yourself in the program interface at first - it's complex software that requires patience to use. Despite this, I am sure that if you follow my directions carefully you will be able to practice yourself enough to find your way and edit your videos with ever greater convenience. Are you ready? Let's go!

How to create a new project in After Effects

The first step in getting started with After Effects, whether you want to add special effects or just do some video editing, is to open a new project. Projects, in fact, contain all your work and allow you to save or modify it without the risk of losing your progress.

When After Effects opens, on the main screen that is offered to you, press the button New project, placed on the left. In the window that has opened, you have various workspaces available which I will explain better in the next chapters. In any case, I recommend that you immediately save your project by going to the menu File> Save with nome (top left) and clicking on the item again Save with name.

How to edit a video in After Effects

After you have created a project, what you will need to do is import your video. To do this, go to the menu File> Import (top left) and tap on the item Fillet. As you can see, your video is now present in the left pane, called Project.

Now you need to create one Composition. Compositions are the workspaces that you will use to edit, edit or apply effects to your videos: think of them as work desks on which you will rest your tools, be they videos, effects or plugins. Furthermore, thanks to the use of multiple compositions, you will be able to experiment as much as you want on one of them and then, in case of errors, return to a composition in which you have not made the unwanted changes.

To create a composition you have two ways to follow: you can right-click on the imported video file and click on the menu item New composition from selection, to create a composition based on the characteristics of your movie; alternatively, you can click the middle button New composition and manually enter the characteristics you want for your final result.

Once you've created your composition, you have one in front of you timeline, at the bottom left, containing the list of files in the composition and, at the bottom center, the actual timeline that you can use to navigate within the composition itself.

You can also add other video files to the composition by importing them into the project, by holding down the left mouse button and dragging them to the bottom right of the timeline.

To edit a video in a composition, all you need to do is use the timeline to move, resize, tile or trim the video files it contains. To resize a file in the timeline, place the mouse cursor at the beginning or end of the line corresponding to the video. When the mouse cursor changes to two arrows, press and hold the left mouse button and drag the slider until you reach the desired length.

Once you've resized a movie in the timeline, you can move its order so that it plays exactly when you want. To do this, place the mouse cursor on the line corresponding to the video and, holding down the left click, drag the video to the position you think is most appropriate.

After Effects also gives you the option to split a movie in the timeline into multiple parts. For example, you can trim a clip to insert a break, or delete a portion of it. To do this, click on the top line of the timeline containing the time of the movie, placing the blue line on the position where you want to make the cut. Now press the key combination on your keyboard Ctrl + Shift + D to make the cut.

How to apply effects in After Effects

Now that you've learned how to use the timeline to edit a video from your clips, I guess you'll want to apply some effect to your creation. After all, you downloaded After Effects for this reason, right? Well then read on, because I'm about to tell you just how to apply effects to your footage!

You must know that After Effects includes numerous ready-to-use effects within it, each with different settings and ways of use. In this chapter I want to explain how to apply any effect and how to control its parameters. You will then be able to explore all the other effects in the program and adjust them independently.

To do this, I have chosen to use the effect CC Lens as an example. Are you wondering how to apply it? Within the pane to the right of the timeline, click the clip name to which you want to apply the effect. Now, click on the menu Effects, at the top, place the mouse cursor on the item Distortions and click on the menu item CC Lens. There you have it, the CC Lens effect has been applied to your clip.

But I'm sure you'll want to know how to change the effect parameters to fit your video. As you may have noticed, a screen with the name appeared in the upper right pane Effects controls. Keep in mind that, for each clip, you can always go to this screen and adjust all the effects applied to it.

In this case, you can adjust the parameters present by double clicking on their value and changing it by hand or by holding down the left click on their value and then dragging the slider until you are satisfied with the result.

Even though each effect has different parameters, I want to give you some advice that applies to each of them. First, be very careful to apply gradual changes to parameters: many effects require a great deal of computing power and modifying the parameters without paying due caution can cause the program to crash.

Also remember that you can apply more than one effect to each clip: therefore try to experiment, perhaps creating new compositions, in order to combine different effects and obtain unique results.

How to export a video in After Effects

Once you are satisfied with your video, you will definitely want to export it to make it visible to everyone. To do this, go to the menu File> Export, top left, and tap on the item Add to Render Queue.

On the screen named Render queue appeared at the bottom of the program, press on the writing Not specified yet, next to the item Output in, to choose the destination location for your movie.

Before exporting it, however, know that you can change the render settings to make them suitable for the use you will make of it. To do this, click on the option Better settings next to the item Render settings, in order to change the quality, resolution, and other settings of the final movie.

Finally, you can decide the format of your video by clicking on the item Without losses placed next to the wording Output module, in order to customize the file that will be processed. The default After Effects options will produce a movie in very high quality, but remember that you have the ability to change the resolution, format and many other parameters depending on how you want to use the clip.

Once the settings are applied, you can start rendering in two different ways: to start it immediately within After Effects, click the button Rendering, on the right; you can otherwise decide to use Adobe Media Encoder, a very useful software included with After Effects that is able to handle the rendering autonomously.

The advantage, in this case, is the ability to close After Effects or perform other operations independently while rendering. To do this, click on the button AME queue located to the right of the program: a new Adobe Media Encoder window will open and the rendering will start automatically.

How to add plugins in After Effects

Although After Effects contains numerous effects of all kinds, more than enough to create original and unique movies, you must know that there are many additional plugins able to expand the possibilities of this software. Some of them are free, others require thepurchase to be used. To help you, however, I have chosen for you a list of well-known and very famous plugins.

  • Boris Continuum - This paid plugin suite (starting at $ 37 / month) is among the most popular in the world of After Effects professionals and users. You can download a free trial version directly from the official website to get an idea of ​​their potential.
  • Video Copilot - unlike Boris Continuum, Video Copilot offers several single plugins at varying prices for the purchase. Used in every field, even by professionals in the world of cinema, these plugins are certainly a very good choice if you want to expand the functionality of After Effects.
  • AEJuice Free - in the world of free plugins for After Effects, AEJuice offers many valid proposals that allow you to apply very interesting and completely customizable effects to your videos, all without requiring any kind of expense.

To install the plugins in question, all you have to do is download them, start the relative executable and follow the instructions on the screen. Usually this is always clicking on Forward / Next. Facile, see?

How to use After Effects

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