I had the honor of travelling to Rome to teach After Effects to the video department of the United Nations World Food Programme. The WFP is the world's largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger through out the world. The video department creates PSA's and video stories about the many hunger related issues in the world. Their work is seen on worldwide broadcast television and on the web.
The group I worked with comprised of the head of the department, Jonathan Dumont, his videographer, a graphic designer and a photographer. Their main goal was to add more interesting typography work to their PSA's and video stories. No one in the group had worked with After Effects at all so my approach was to teach them all the basics in the three days we had together and then focus on working with typography on using their own footage.
The three day session covered importing, keyframing, layering, layer editing, audio syncing and markers, parenting, nesting, shape creation, rendering, format issues, basic type creation and "textacy", effects, presets, track mattes, masking, and 3D layers, cameras and lights. Taking espresso breaks gave us much needed bursts of energy with such a rigorous curriculum. Since half of the group members had time based experience such as editing they caught on quickly. The other group members had significant Adobe experience so they understood how the program worked. It's like Photoshop in motion, I always say.
The group picked up the text component of AE very well. The text component can be a bit of a challenge because the basis of the animation is on changing "range" parameters not transform values as is done in all the other animation techniques. Once they understood the concept they easily created detailed type treatments both from scratch and with the help of the text presets that they customized. Apart from the technical issues of animating type, we also discussed basic typography "rules" for broadcast such as avoiding thin line weights and very small sizes. Good typography practices such as how to choose appropriate typefaces, type crimes (stacking type, stretching out of proportion) and adjusting kerning and leading were topics of discussion.
At the end of their session they felt confident that they will incorporate not only the text features of AE into their work but also masking, effects, and 3D. As the session was going on, Jonathan was juggling calls regarding upcoming shoots with various celebrities who volunteer their time for WFP's causes as well as travel plans to third world countries for more content coverage. It is very rewarding to see that the concepts I taught will be utilized in the work of this very significant humanitarian organization.