A lot of people have this misconstrued idea that I have a wealth of knowledge about Adobe After Effects stored away in my puny little brain, and I'm generally the go-to guy when it comes to AE. When in fact ,it's about 2 years worth of tinkering, tutorials and generally screwing around that have given me a slight head start when it comes to effects and compositing compared to most. I'll let you guys into a little secret, and hopefully this'll enlighten some people as to how easy and simple it is to get some experience using after effects.
I think compositing and post production processing is one of the most vital parts of any production pipeline. Regardless if it's a 2D piece, a 3D piece, or a combination of both... Good compositing and subtle post-processing effects can catapult a visually average short film to new heights.
Enter The Lovely by Owen McGonigle is a great example of a previous DoJ animation which shows great use of colour correction. It's stunningly beautiful, and the extra work done on the shots really adds so much depth to the film. In my opinion, the thing that makes a film look good are all the things you don't notice... but you'd notice if they weren't there. It gives an animations a much more organic, immerse feel. Naturally, it won't suit absolutely everything but I think a lot of projects could really benefit from it.
This video below gets across what I mean pretty well, it's a Star Trek (2009) special feature... and anybody who's seen the film will know how incredible the CG visuals are, but this is a nice insight into their thought process and how they kept it looking so natural yet dynamic.
Anyway, I'm getting side tracked. The first time I opened up After Effects, I could feel my brain cells slowly committing suicide. There's a lot to wrap your head around, but after a couple of days of getting used to the interface and general mechanics it becomes a lot easier.
That link right there folks, is the single greatest AE resource on the entire interweb. It's run by a chap called Andrew Kramer, and he's an absolute godsend in visual effects and compositing. He has hundreds of tutorials on animation, colour correction, title sequences, particle effects, 3D camera moves, 2D/3D layering, compositing, 3D intergration, keying and visual effects. That's not even the best part, all this is completely free. No registration or subscriptions.
The best place to start is his After Effects Basic Training course, it covers the very basics of absolutely everything you need to know in short, entertaining tid-bits. I know lot of it won't seem applicable to most animators, but I'd recommend watching them anyway just to familiarise yourself with the program and the possibilities it offers. After that, he has 110 free tutorials uploaded on how to accomplish an incredible range of visual effects and adds more every few weeks. One last thing, there's another page with a load of free presets and plugins to add extra features and make your AE experience generally smoother and quicker for more advanced users.
All you need is to take some time off, find some patience, and work your way through some tutorials and it'll open up a world of possibilities to give your work that extra touch which will really bring it to life.