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A Virtual Classroom


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Your instructor: Ko Maruyama

Running Time: 9.17 Hrs
Project Files: Included


Eden Maxwell



Learning Adobe After Effects CS3 is not a casual endeavor, as gaining proficiency of even its basic features demands focus, dedication, and comprehension.

After completing any video training package, the prevailing questions in my mind are as follows: Were the lessons ‘easy’ to follow? Was the pacing acceptable? Was the moving ‘picture’ worth a thousand words? Did I learn more quickly than simply hitting the books? Were the production values professional? Was the movie screen sufficiently large to see the application in action without squinting? Was it cost effective?


Experts are not necessarily good teachers.

Fortunately, Ko Maruyama, your guide into the inner workings of AECS3, falls into the excellent instructor category. As a lead animator and motion video professional from Los Angeles, he shares his impressive expertise with an unhurried sense of delivery and good voice inflection; Ko’s lively presentation also generates a sense of mission so you don’t fall asleep while your brain attempts to absorb new concepts about motion graphics—lessening the vertigo often associated with steep learning curves.

People are drawn to tutorial videos because in many ways they emulate a classroom experience. However, since you can’t ask the instructor specific questions (although you can search for topics in any of the apps in your Total Training online subscription) in a video, the test of its effectiveness translates into: Did the teacher cover all or at least most of the questions I had about the application? When you consider the extensive amount of information that Ko must cover, you quickly appreciate that he provides a well-conceived balance of introductory features, without cluttering up our heads with details that are for the moment too advanced.


The production values are first-rate with stunning graphics, large video screen size, and the all-important quality of sound is excellent. When Ko talks about a particular detail, the screen often gently zooms to that area of interest on the workspace.

To round out the training, add a coherent script, diligent editing, and memorable, often humorous, well-organized project file lessons, included on the DVD, or as a download if you opt for the online training option.


Although organizing may not the ‘sexiest’ part, Ko patiently walks us through the all-important steps of navigating the workspace, critical options for importing files, and how to set up and manage our file folders in the project pane—essential for developing good work habits.

As the course title implies, we are led through a basic understanding of such tools as keyframing, parenting, nesting, effects, masks, and using the type tool—which remains one of the most powerful animation tools in motion graphics.


In the core lesson titled Keyframing Parameters, Ko tackles how After Effects calculates X, Y, positions and then shows us the essential difference and relationship between anchor points on layers and in the composition window. While this concept takes a bit of getting used to, Ko’s illustrations and animations are effective and eventually payoff.

Yes, these are the essentials that we would love to grasp immediately so that we can begin designing our After Effects animations. While I have a solid grounding in Photoshop and Illustrator, certain After Effects tools and features took me several screenings until the concept began to sink in. But fear not, Ko doesn’t waste a single word in delivering a stream rich with useful information. It’s all here, and you learn by doing at your own pace—which is what such tutorials are all about.


This training also gives some airtime to new AECS3 features including Shape Layers, the Puppet Tool (a bit advanced) and Brainstorm (especially useful for those involved in post-production deadline work). You’ll also learn how to apply many of the new effects found in AECS3 as well as how to import Photoshop Layer Styles—which further illustrates the remarkable integration of After Effects with other apps in the Adobe Production Suite Premium.

Nearly every file and layer you import into After Effects can be animated through various options and effects—a powerful feature that is many levels deep and simultaneously challenging.

Ko also includes Tips, Tricks & Beginner Questions—a catchall section that covers such topics as managing source material to working with RAM—and you'll need quite a bit of machine memory to get the most out of After Effects.


After completing this course for beginners, I felt sufficiently confidant and proficient to undertake my project: a high-end animated promotional video of my latest book—An Artist Empowered. Ko’s basic training also prepared me to tackle the next level: Ko’s After Effects CS3 Advanced course, which is included as part of Total Training’s online course.

In addition, Ko’s training videos gave me a decided edge in more quickly understanding the other After Effects tutorials on my motion graphics bookshelf.

If you’re motivated about learning Adobe After Effects CS3, take a seat in Ko’s virtual world of motion graphcs and reap the rewards by going to the head of the class.

Online Training: starting at $249.99/year

This includes all the titles in this particular subscription—all the After Effects Training Videos plus the Adobe Suite of apps and much more. The online version interface also lets you keep track of your lessons—completed, partially viewed, and bookmarked.

DVD (2 discs) version: $149.99

Total Training After Effects CS3 Essentials

Company: Total Training



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