Adobe After Effects Tutorial: Understanding Motion Graphics in After Effects

What you’ll learn in this After Effects Tutorial:

  • Digital Video Basics

This tutorial provides you with a foundation for working with Adobe After Effects motion graphics. It is the first lesson in the Adobe After Effects CS6 Digital Classroom book. For more Adobe After Effects training options, visit AGI’s After Effects Classes.

Adobe After Effects Tutorial: Understanding Motion Graphics in After Effects

This lesson provides an overview of the various types of motion graphics and digital video projects you can create in After Effects. It’s filled with important information that you need to know to work effectively in this application. If you can’t wait to get started using the program, skip over this lesson for now and jump ahead to Lesson 2, “Understanding the After Effects Interface.” If you jump ahead, make sure you come back to review this lesson at a later time.

Starting up

This lesson includes useful background information. If you’d prefer to jump right into working with After Effects, you should move to the second lesson, which gets you hands-on right away.

Defining motion graphics

Adobe After Effects is an industry standard tool for creating motion graphics that are used for broadcast television, film, and other motion graphics and video productions. After Effects is used to create content that appears in presentation graphics and on mobile devices. It is a tool for storytelling, creating visually appealing motion graphics that integrate into any medium to enhance a presentation, story, image, or mood.

Television and video graphics

After Effects is an important tool for broadcast-design professionals. It is used to create original content for interstitial, lower thirds, bumpers, and show openings. Many video professionals consider it an essential tool in their daily work. In fact, you can see it at networks such as MTV, Spike, truTV, and the Food Network, where it’s used to produce stunning, high quality graphics and motion design packages quickly and affordably.

Internet and mobile devices

The Internet and mobile devices are becoming a major entertainment medium. After Effects high-quality motion graphics are being widely used for online and mobile content. Video sharing sites, such as and, provide content creators with access to a wide audience, which creates additional distribution opportunities for individuals and organizations alike.

Desktop distribution and presentation graphics

Digital displays such as high-definition televisions, monitors, and projectors have created new venues for displaying motion graphics. After Effects is used to add impact to otherwise static slides, charts, and graphs. With the proliferation and affordability of high-definition televisions and other digital displays, many public venues such as: malls, retail stores, schools, and even military bases are using motion graphics to both inform and entertain.

Regardless of how you plan to use After Effects, you will find it to be a powerful, well-rounded tool that, with a little practice, can serve you well.

Digital video basics

If you want to, you can open After Effects and start creating graphics without any understanding of how video works. (If you really can’t wait to get started, jump ahead to Lesson 2, “Understanding the After Effects Interface.”) However, successfully producing graphics for video and other media requires that you understand a few technical requirements. If you don’t understand these, you’ll merely be pushing buttons and clicking checkboxes, so you should take a few minutes to at least get a foundation in digital video.

When working in After Effects, you will want to consider the final destination for your project. Will it be used on television, in video, on a mobile device? Knowing this information allows you to accurately create your After Effects content to match your intended destination. Projects for high-definition television differ from those for a portable device with a small-screen. Each of these media has its own standards for items, such as frame rate, aspect ratio, and bit rate. Understanding these items saves you time and effort in the production process.

Continue to the next After Effects Tutorial: Understanding video formats in After Effects>