5 basic After Effect Skills for editors

When diving into the industry of video editing, the learning curve will vary depending on how deep you go. It can be shallow if you decide to stick with free and simple editors like Sony Vegas, Window’s Movie Maker, or iMovie.

Or it can be more complex if you turn to Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, or After Effects. The latter batch seem to have every aspect of video editing features crammed into it, making it challenging. But as you grow as an editor, you’ll find that After Effects will enhance your videos and can be straightforward and fun to do.

What is After Effects?

Before getting to the techniques, it’s worth discussing this editor in more detail. After Effects is a powerful behemoth of an editor. If you’re looking to add video effects, motion graphics or compositing, After Effects is the software for that.

As you can tell from the explanation, this editor is a different editor than Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro. It enhances videos and thus requires new skills and a change in your focus and thinking.

With this covered, here are some techniques and tutorials to help you navigate through After Effects.

Using Trim Paths

This is a good start for people who want to jump into After Effects and don’t want to learn too much. When you get the desired effect, this can improve your video and provide impressive animation too.

This is a technique that many beginners neglect, but it is pretty helpful. What this technique entails is making precise adjustments to the shape layer paths. Here is a tutorial for more details.

You’ll also find with this technique useful in a variety of applications. Use it for:

  • Infographics
  • Text boxes
  • Text strokes
  • Circle bursts
  • Map routes, and more!

Motion Tracking made easy

Motion tracking is a technique that is foundational to After Effects. Knowing this technique will allow you to master advanced techniques faster the more you dive into this editor. Even if you’re not looking to upgrade your skills to that level right now, having this in your repertoire can enhance videos that you create.

This tutorial explains the technique in under 3 minutes.


The term rotoscoping might scare off some folks, it’s not as bad as you think. It’s an intuitive technique to master, and requires a lot of patience. It’s a tough, monotonous task to do.

This technique demands that you animate a mask over a subject in the foreground. Think moving lines that coincide with body motions.

Another way to think of it is that you are creating your own layers out of a single image as if you were in Photoshop. And while I’m making this technique sound difficult, it can be easier than it looks.

Here is a 9 minute tutorial video covering the technique.

Floating Yourself

This technique is one of the many reasons why editors may be keen to jump into After Effects. There are a lot of different visuals that can wow audiences. Being able to tap into those skills and deliver those videos through online and social media is attractive.

While this technique is a bit advanced, it’s not too tricky, and gives you a taste of the surreal effects you can add to your videos.

Creating 8-Bit Pixel Art

While this might not fit your own business or brand, learning about how to be creating 8-bit art in your videos requires could be helpful. I say this because it uses basic concepts of various tools you could be already using for other projects.

Maybe not creating 8-bit art, but knowing how to use more tools will allow you a better understanding of this tool.

Though if you are here to learn about 8-bit art, the tools that are covered are:

  • Posterize
  • CC Block Load
  • Tint
  • Grid
  • Posterize Time
  • Video Footage
  • Alpha Channel Footage
  • And the 8-Bit Game Preset.

Using all of these can create a cool effect and Premium Beat created a solid tutorial covering the tools and showing it off.

After Effects offers more

This is the tip of the iceberg to what After Effects can do. Much like with Photoshop, Adobe has created tools that can do hundreds of different tasks. The most important thing is that you get out there and continue to experiment.