[2024] Is After Effects Hard To Learn? - FreeVisuals

Let's put it this way; if you graduated high school and understand how to use basic computer programs such as Microsoft word and YouTube, then you should find After Effects very easy to learn!

December 3, 2023
[2024] Is After Effects Hard To Learn?  - FreeVisuals
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"It's Like Video Editing On Steroids!"
- Sebastian Navarro, FreeVisuals Editor
Endorsed by Adobe, Motion Array is the ULTIMATE tool for creating high-quality videos! Browse 15M+ assets for Premiere Pro, After Effects, FCPX & DaVinci!

Contrary To Popular Belief, After Effects Is Not Hard To Learn!

While it's true that After Effects is a sophisticated tool utilized by seasoned animators and professionals across various sectors, its perceived steep learning curve is often a result of approaching it without the right resources. Feedback from platforms like online tutorials suggest that the software is daunting for newcomers. However, the key lies in the approach to learning. With the help of third-party add-ons and presets, you can create extremely high-quality and professional-level videos quickly. Relying solely on sporadic video tutorials or YouTube lessons might not offer the comprehensive understanding one needs. Instead, structured courses or certification programs can provide a more organized and systematic learning experience. It's essential to recognize that while the initial stages might seem challenging, with the right guidance and persistence, anyone can harness the full potential of After Effects.

How Difficult is it to Learn After Effects?

The answer largely depends on the individual's dedication, prior experience, and learning resources.

Learning After Effects, like any specialized software, requires dedication and practice. To put that into context, the average learner who has an average IQ of 115 at the age of 18 will only need to spend 6 months to become highly proficient at using After Effects. This timeframe can vary based on individual aptitude, prior experience with similar software, and the quality of learning resources available.

How long does it take to learn After Effects?

Much like any intricate craft, the time frame varies from individual to individual. For some, a few months of dedicated practice might suffice to grasp the basics, while others might need a year or more to truly feel at ease with the software's vast capabilities. The journey is as much about the destination as it is about the path you take to get there.

To help you understand, the below table describes the proficiency levels at using After Effects.

Proficiency Level Capabilities Time Dedication Features and Characteristics
Beginner Basic understanding of the interface, simple animations, and text effects. 1-3 months Familiar with the workspace
Can create basic keyframe animations
Understands simple layer manipulations
Intermediate Comfortable with more advanced animations, basic compositing, and use of some plugins. 4-12 months Can use masks and track mattes
Understands 3D space
Begins to use effects and presets
Proficient Mastery over complex animations, advanced compositing, and proficient use of plugins. 1-2 years Can perform color correction and grading
Uses expressions
Comfortable with camera and light in 3D space
Advanced Expertise in scripting, 3D integration, and can create custom plugins. 2-4 years Writes and uses scripts
Integrates with 3D software
Understands advanced particle systems
Expert Complete mastery over the software, can teach others, and contributes to the After Effects community. 5+ years Develops custom tools and plugins
Recognized in the community
Can handle large-scale VFX projects

For instance, someone who has just started might only be able to create simple text animations or slide transitions in the first month. By the third month, they might be able to integrate 3D elements, use advanced effects, and optimize rendering settings. By the end of the 6th month, they could be creating professional-level videos, incorporating dynamic visual effects, and even teaching others.

My Experience

For me personally, it only took me about 3 months to get to the intermediate level at After effects, but that was only because I transitioned from Hitfilm after using it for over 1 year.

The foundational knowledge I had acquired from Hitfilm played a significant role in accelerating my learning curve with After Effects. The similarities in interface design and workflow between the two software made the transition smoother than I had anticipated.

However, it wasn't just a walk in the park. There were features and tools in After Effects that weren't present in Hitfilm, and vice versa. I had to spend countless hours watching tutorials, reading forums, and experimenting with different projects to familiarize myself with these new tools. The community around After Effects was incredibly supportive, with numerous online resources available, which made the learning process more manageable.

One thing I realized during this transition was the importance of adaptability. While both software had their strengths and weaknesses, being open to learning and adapting to a new environment was crucial. It allowed me to combine the best of both worlds, leveraging the strengths of Hitfilm while harnessing the advanced capabilities of After Effects.

Can beginners use After Effects?

Absolutely! While it might seem a tad overwhelming at first glance, with its myriad of tools and options, every expert was once a beginner. Dive into the plethora of resources available, be it online tutorials or community forums, and you'll find that the initial hurdles become stepping stones to mastering the craft.

Is After Effects harder to learn than Premiere Pro?

It's a bit like comparing apples to oranges. While both hail from the Adobe family, they serve different purposes. After Effects is tailored for visual effects and motion graphics, whereas Premiere Pro is designed for video editing. Depending on your background and what you're aiming to achieve, one might seem more intuitive than the other. However, with the right mindset and resources, neither is insurmountable. Embrace the challenge, and you'll find both tools to be invaluable allies in your creative journey.

Is After Effects worth learning?

If you've read the above info, then this question is completely up to you. It depends on how how many hours you're willing to invest each day and what you plan on using for. Do you think the return on investment is worth it? Whether that'd be financially, or just for fun?

If you're aiming to carve a niche in the professional world of visual effects, motion graphics, or video editing, then mastering After Effects can certainly give you an edge. The software is an industry standard, and proficiency in it can open doors to numerous opportunities in film, advertising, gaming, and more. From a financial standpoint, the skills acquired can lead to lucrative projects and job offers.

On the other hand, if you're diving into it as a hobby or a personal project, the joy and satisfaction derived from bringing your creative visions to life can be immensely rewarding. The thrill of seeing your ideas materialize on screen, the reactions of your audience, or even just the personal accomplishment of learning something new can be worth every hour spent.

In the end, the value of learning After Effects is subjective. It's a tool, and like any tool, its worth is determined by the craftsman wielding it. Evaluate your goals, your passion, and your commitment, and then decide if this journey is one you're ready to embark on.