Infographics: Introducing After Effects
Infographics: Introducing After Effects 1

In part one of the After Effects tutorials D J Clark explains how to get up and started with the programme creating your first short infographic. To follow this tutorial you will need to download the following file

Opening After Effects for the first time can be a daunting experience. If you are used to editing video many of the same windows and buttons appear as you may expect but it looks far more complex. It is not, and following these three videos tutorials should be enough to give you the confidence to start experimenting with your own creative ideas. Once you start adding more objects and the timeline gets longer you will be glad you are here and not back in Premiere which is better at dealing with projects with far fewer elements.

After you get over the initial shock, AE is an excellent tool for building more complex animations that you can export and then embed into your video stories or have them stand by themselves. Within a long form multimedia story I find animation can be useful as an introduction to some of the broader contextual issues. For example in the animation in the introduction I can explain the wider story that the rest of the videos will then deal with. The “what, where, when” questions in particular are easily explained with maps, moving text and graphic visuals. All moving around the screen to keep the audience engaged.

Infographics: Introducing After Effects 2

In the second After Effects tutorial you will learn how to start to make basic animations with objects.

The first step to creating any infographic is to write a script to work from. Generally I find using a voice over much easier and quicker than trying to create an infographic just using text and objects only. When writing a voice over, try and keep it short (around 200 – 400 words) and to the point. As you write think how you are going to illustrate the points you make. Referencing statistics, geographical locations and explaining complex processes or organisations will all animate well. Whereas quoting people and describing physical events will all be much harder.

Once you have written the voice over then go through the script highlighting the sections you want to find visual objects, maps, charts and graphs for and then the parts you will simply use text to emphasise the words. When you record the voice over try and speak clearly emphasising the key points and speaking rhythmically. Your voice is going to drive the narrative with the animation serving to keep the audience engaged and emphasise some of the key points.

Infographics: Introducing After Effects 3

In the last of three After Effects tutorials D J Clark takes you through some more complex animations using the same audio file from the previous exercise.

If the infographic appears in the middle of a video story then try and retain some of the background sounds that came prior to it or after it so it does not jar too much as you transition in and out.

Once you have completed the three video tutorials write a short script and have a go at creating your first infographic using After Effects. Keep it simple at first but try and think creatively. In the next section I will give some suggestions on ways to create some of your own objects with which to animate, but for now you can simply go online and do a search for copyright free graphics. You may also want to bring some of your pictures into the project.

Once you have made your first animation I suggest you then try and find some presets or templates you can work with. This is a great way to get stuck into some more complex projects without having to set them up your self.

Infographics: Introducing After Effects & Using presets

In this video you will learn how to cheat a little, by finding presets and templates that you can adapt to make your own infographics. This can save you a lot of frustration and is a great way to learn too.

In this video tutorial I demonstrate downloading a graphics template from A quick search online will reveal many such websites that have After Effects templates that you can adapt for your own needs and at the same time learn from professional animators how they put together some of the more complex infographics.

Also be sure to spend some time with the preset animations that come with After Effects. You can view them by clicking on the presets under the animation menu which will open up Bridge. Here you can see previews of the effects they offer. If you like one, start a new composition first in After Effects, then simply double click on the one you want in Bridge and it will open it up for you.

I find using presets and templates very useful when creating stingers (opening graphics for a video series) and bumpers (finishing graphics).

Continue to the next section: Infographics: Using other tools