Film Tutorials

Adobe After Effects: The Advanced Techniques All Editors Need To Know

© Jakob Owens

Adobe After Effects is an industry-standard software for video animation, film post-production, and visual effects. This powerful tool has become essential for video professionals, including filmmakers, YouTube creators, and video editors, for its ability to create stunning visual effects, graphics, and animations.

There are numerous advanced techniques that all editors of any level should know about. Each of them are essential post-production techniques for filmmakers looking to elevate their videos to a professional level.

These include the following:

  • Keying
  • Rotoscoping
  • Color Correction
  • Tracking
  • Animation


Keying is an essential technique for separating foreground subjects from their background. In Adobe After Effects, there are various tools available for keying, including Ultra Key and KeyLight.

Ultra Key is the most commonly used keying tool for its ability to effectively remove green-screen and blue-screen backgrounds. In contrast, KeyLight is preferred for high-quality footage since it provides better color correction, spill suppression, and edge detail. To use Ultra Key or KeyLight, you need to import the footage into After Effects, select the Keying tool, and adjust the settings until you achieve the desired effect. This step requires patience, attention to detail, and careful selection of the right settings to make the key look natural.


Rotoscoping is the process of manually cutting out objects from footage frame by frame, using manual labor rather than keying or keying with imperfect keys. It is best suited for situations in which keying cannot be used or is too muddy to provide accurate keying results.

Rotoscoping may take longer, but its results make the effort worthwhile. When dealing with complex objects or subjects with intricate details, rotoscoping offers greater control of footage. To rotoscope, import footage into Adobe After Effects, select the Rotoscoping tool and slowly draw a mask around objects or subjects frame by frame until accurate edges blend seamlessly with a background to avoid a “cutout” effect. Rotoscoping could take hours – but the result makes the effort worth your while.

Color correction

Color correction is an integral aspect of post-production and involves manipulating the colors used in footage to achieve a specific mood, tone, or look.

Adobe After Effects provides several tools for color correction, including Lumetri Color and Colorista. With these tools, you can alter footage’s brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue to achieve your desired look; but be careful that overdoing color correction doesn’t result in artificial-looking footage.


Tracking is one of the most utilized advanced techniques available in Adobe’s After Effects program. It is used to align movements together within footage with other elements. These can include text, graphics, or other visuals.

2D tracking, 3D tracking, and motion tracking are among the most used by editors, depending on what they are trying to achieve. In order to use it, select the tool required, and then adjust its settings so it fits the movement.

Puppet Tool

After Effects’ Puppet Tool provides you with an invaluable way to animate complex movements of an object or character. It works by creating a mesh around its subject matter and using pins to define how that mesh should move.

The Puppet Tool in After Effects can help create realistic animated movements of characters or objects, such as breathing, walking, and dancing. To use it effectively, create a mesh around the object or character that needs animating, then use pins to control how this mesh moves.


Adobe After Effects animation tools make animation an integral component, providing ways for animators to add movement and energy to footage and elements. Keyframes, expressions, and presets can all help in this regard.

Keyframes are used to create animation by setting different values for properties like scale, rotation, and opacity. Expressions provide more complex animation by linking properties with mathematical functions. Presets offer pre-animated assets which you can modify to fit the footage that needs animation. Animation adds life and entertainment value to videos.

Adobe After Effects is Essential for Editors

Adobe After Effects may seem intimidating at first, but mastering its advanced techniques will take your post-production skills to new heights. There are various techniques available that you can employ; mastering each one may take some time and patience, but once mastered, the results will speak for themselves.

FIN Staff

Film Industry Network News Desk


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