After Effects is the leading software for motion graphics. It’s used to animate titles, create full animation movies and shows, add visual effects, and for smaller projects like infographics. It’s made by Adobe and it’s compatible with other Adobe products, which makes it a versatile tool with a familiar environment for most animators and video editors.
There are two main career paths that utilize After Effects on a daily basis: animation and video. Animation can be split into three categories including 2D, 3D, and Motion Graphics. Each of these jobs uses After Effects to create animations but in a different way. Video editors also use After Effects, and often to create animations, primarily to adjust the way their videos look.
After Effects gives 2D Animators incredible control when creating animations from digitally drawn frames. It can be used to build character rigs, infographic animations, animate website banners, and more. 3D Animators use After Effects for rendering, modeling, character rigging, camera angles, visual effects, and work with layers that were created in Adobe Illustrator.
Motion Graphics Designers create animated typography, special effects, secondary animations, glows and light rays, special effects, expressions, and more. They can work as animators, branding experts who multitask with graphic design, or managers who oversee animators and special effects teams.
Video Editors create special effects, intro and outro sequences, and small animated graphics with After Effects. They also use it to change lighting and color grading within their videos. A Video Manager often oversees Video Editors and knows how to use After Effects to make adjustments to an Editor’s work as well as to explain their ideas to an Editor.
While After Effects is an incredibly robust and powerful tool for any animator or video editor to learn, it's not the only skill you’ll need to land one of these jobs. You should also learn skills like storyboarding, Cinema 4D, drawing, communication, character conception, layout design, camera angles, and key scenes. Other Adobe software such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Illustrator will also come in handy.