Want to get started with After Effects but don’t know where to begin? In this lesson Nick Campbell will guide you through you some basics to help you create your very first project.

The first thing you want to do is make a new composition. The composition window resides in the middle, all of the elements will be on the left hand side, effects on the right hand side and your timeline is at the bottom. Each thing you add to your canvas will create a new layer in your timeline so each item can be controlled separately. As you’re working you’re going to want to sometimes render your project to play it back and watch it. Instead of rendering the entire project you can scrub in the timeline to where you’d like it to render and hit “B” for the beginning, then scrub to the end and hit “N” so it will only render the part you’d like to see.

You can create inverted alpha mattes on top of objects to effectively cut holes into other objects if you were to place one on top of another. If you want to duplicate a layer or layers, highlight the ones you want to duplicate in your timeline and hit Command D.

You can create a pre-composition by highlighting all your layers and hitting Shift Command C. What a pre-comp will do it merge all your layers into one which references your original animation. Now you can use that one piece of animation and easily duplicate it and manipulate it.

**So what have we learned?**

– Each item you add to your canvas creates a new layer

– You can create masks to cut pieces of of those layers

– Only render and playback the piece you’re working on

– Create a pre-comp to easily duplicate certain animations for re-use
Here’s another great example video done by Nick in After Effects using precomps!

Nick has some more great Intro to After Effects videos. You can learn the basics of keyframing here or educate yourself a bit on 3D layers and cameras here!

[challenge: Create your own 5 second animation in After Effects using the tools shown to you in Nick’s tutorial and this lesson., url: http://vimeo.com/groups/aeuser]