Basic workflow tutorial: Create a simple movie

This tutorial assumes that you have already started After Effects and have not modified the empty default project. This example skips the step of importing footage and shows you instead how to create your own synthetic visual elements. After you have rendered a final movie, you can import it into After Effects to view it and use it as you would any other footage item.

Some people prefer to use the mouse and menus to interact with After Effects, whereas others prefer to use keyboard shortcuts for common tasks. For several steps in this example, two alternative commands are shown that produce the same result—the first demonstrating the discoverability of menu commands and the second demonstrating the speed and convenience of keyboard shortcuts. You’ll likely find that you use some combination of keyboard shortcuts and menu commands in your work.

  1. Create a new composition:
    • Choose Composition > New Composition.

    • Press Ctrl+N (Windows) or Command+N (Mac OS).

  2. Change the Duration value in the Composition Settings dialog box by entering 5.00 (5 seconds), choose Web Video from the Preset menu, and click OK.
  3. Create a new text layer:
    • Choose Layer > New > Text.

    • Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+T (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+T (Mac OS).

  4. Type your name. Press Enter on the numeric keypad or press Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Return (Mac OS) on the main keyboard to exit text-editing mode.
  5. Set an initial keyframe for the Position property:
    • Click the triangle to the left of the layer name in the Timeline panel, click the triangle to the left of the Transform group name, and then click the stopwatch button to the left of the Position property name.

    • Press Alt+Shift+P (Windows) or Option+Shift+P (Mac OS).

  6. Activate the Selection tool:
    • Click the Selection Tool button in the Tools panel.

    • Press V.

  7. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the bottom-left corner of the frame in the Composition panel.
  8. Move the current-time indicator to the last frame of the composition:
    • Drag the current-time indicator in the Timeline panel to the far right of the timeline.

    • Press End.

  9. Using the Selection tool, drag your text to the top-right corner of the frame in the Composition panel.

    A new keyframe is created at this time for the Position property. Motion is interpolated between keyframe values.

  10. Preview your animation using standard preview:
    • Click the Play button  in the Preview panel. Click Play again to stop the preview.

    • Press the spacebar. Press the spacebar again to stop the preview.

  11. Apply the Glow effect:
    • Choose Effect > Stylize > Glow.

    • Type glow in the search field at the top of the Effects & Presets panel to find the Glow effect. Double-click the effect name.

  12. Add your composition to the render queue:
    • Choose Composition > Add To Render Queue.

    • Press Ctrl+Shift+/ (Windows) or Command+Shift+/ (Mac OS).

  13. In the Render Queue panel, click the underlined text to the right of Output To. In the Output Movie To dialog box, choose a name and location for the output movie file, and then click Save. For the location, choose something easy to find, like your desktop.
  14. Click the Render button to process all items in the render queue. The Render Queue panel shows the progress of the rendering operation. A sound is generated when rendering is complete.

You’ve created, rendered, and exported a movie.

You can import the movie that you’ve created and preview it in After Effects, or you can navigate to the movie and play it using a movie player such as QuickTime Player, Windows Media Player, or Adobe Bridge.