Total Training for Adobe After Effects 6 test and review

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Total Training for Adobe After Effects 6

Total Training's instructional DVD Videos for After Effects 6 offer 30-plus hours of tutorials, but can they really help viewers get to grips with Adobe's highly complex video compositing, editing and animation program?

Mastery of Adobe After Effects enables users to give video projects a professional, polished look that's not possible using editing programs alone. The trouble is, After Effects is complex and learning it can take a lot of time and effort. What's needed is an expert helping hand, and that's more or less the promise of a set of DVD Video discs produced by Total Training - a company producing tutorials for a wide range of Adobe programs.

There are two versions of Total Training AE6 tutorials available. The keenest UK prices for both look to be from specialist editing-system builder DVC (Digital Video Computing). It sells the Standard Pack, reviewed here, for £234 inc VAT, and the Professional Pack, covering the additional features in the Pro version of AE6, for £340.

Running time for the Standard Pack totals 31 hours across three DVD box sets. Each set has a contents CD carrying project and source files that can be used on Mac or Windows PCs to replicate the on-DVD lessons given by instructors Brian Maffitt and Steve Holmes. Project folders for each set must be copied to hard disk before lessons are started, and this has to be done manually - as explained in the first DVD. Some folders also contain useful documents such as the PDF file that shows the order in which different types of effects are layered and rendered in After Effects.

Set 1 - The Fundamentals - runs for just over seven hours and has two DVDs - Introducing the After Effects Interface, and Up to Speed. Set 2 - Animation and Special Effects - plays for 13 hours and 18 minutes and has four DVDs. The first three cover Animation and Effects; the fourth is about new effects - 3D, noise, colour, distort and channel filter. Set 3 - 3D, Expressions, Text and Design - runs for 10 hours and 33 minutes, and comprises four DVDs covering those four topics.
A fourth set provided only in the Pro Pack covers keying, rotoscoping, motion-tracking, plug-in palettes, 3D assistants and colour adjustment, plus the effects that come with the Pro version - distortion, audio filters and fractal noise.

We were slightly miffed about the missing and misplaced files, and annoyed that Total Training hadn't considered the effect on users of its tedious play-first video. But, it's easy to forgive these shortcomings when the style of the teaching in the DVDs is fun, the tutorials cover a massive range and the step-by-step guidance is genuinely useful.
Okay, the £234 price tag for the Standard version isn't a pittance, but it would be a sound investment for readers serious about learning the program. Anyone who buys the set and puts in the hours and the homework will be a lot wiser, and will have gained a good grounding in using After Effects - we can't think of a better recommendation than that.

Lisa Keddie

Read the full review in July 2004's Computer Video magazine.


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