I recently wrote a blog post about why every editor needs to learn After Effects, which lead to many people asking where they could learn such skills. So here they are, the best places online for video professionals to learn AE.
I’m not going to look at the “free” options, because there are tons of them out there and are often either hit-or-miss as far as quality goes, or means-to-an-end training, with the end goal being to purchase their product.
I’m going to focus on complete After Effects training courses, the pros and cons of each, and my top pick.
This one is a no brainer. Lynda.com is a juggernaut for online training with over 3,700 courses to learn from. Search ‘After Effects’ and you will find over 160 AE courses, totaling 5,855 individual video tutorials.
Now you have all the tutorials you want, but if you don’t have the experts, then you’re in trouble. Well, Lynda.com has you covered there as well. With Chris and Trish Mayer, Richard Harrington, Eran Stern, Marc Christiansen and Angie Taylor, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from the monthly subscription.
The other thing I really like about Lynda.com’s AE training is that it also focuses on side applications like C4D Lite and Mocha AE to really push your AE skills to the edge. This, plus some unique courses like Set Extensions, Physics Simulations and 3D Typography, means there’s a course in here for everyone from AE beginner to pro.
As for which price package, I recommend the $35 plan, as it includes projects along with the lessons, which can be very helpful, especially when starting out.
Pros: Tons of tutorials; great instructors.
Cons: $35/month can be a bit pricey if you’re a slower learner.
Class On Demand
One thing that I really like about Class On Demand is that their training is very specific. Again taught by Chris and Trish Mayer, these After Effects courses are designed specifically to get you up and running quickly.
Broken down into “101” sections (101, 201, 301, etc) these courses start at the absolute basics and build on your skills from there. One thing that’s great about COD is that you pay one price for the AE training, and it’s yours to “keep”, meaning you can log in and view it any time you want without the headaches of the monthly charges. The initial “After Effects 101” runs at about 10.5 hours of training, for a very reasonable $79.95.
Pros: Two great instructors; reasonable price; you “own” the training”.
Cons: Narrow focus on training; not many “outside the box” lessons.
This is another subscription site, much like Lynda.com. Digital Tutors offers over 3,100 tutorials and they also have a great foundation tutorial series to get you up and running as quickly as possible. Their Learning Path tutorials, such as “Quick Start to After Effects” and “How to Get Started with After Effects”, are designed to lead you along the learning path you need to reach your end goal.
Now, I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of the two people who do the AE training here (Chris Glick and Laura Smith), but I do like the fact that the four main AE training courses contain over 65 hours of training.
As for pricing, Digital Tutors offers something that the other packages don’t. For $49 per month, you not only get the project files with your lessons, but you can also view the lessons offline, which can be hugely beneficial, especially if you want to go on vacation, sit on a beach and do some relaxed learning!
Pros: Tons of lessons; offline viewing.
Cons: I’ve never heard of the instructors; $49/month is getting up there.
In the end, my recommendation for someone just starting out is Class On Demand. Chris and Trish Mayer are fantastic teachers, and the fact that you own the material and are not paying monthly keeps the cost low for beginners (remember, we’re all forking out $50 per month already for our Creative Cloud licenses) which is super important when you’re first starting out.
For someone more advanced, give Lynda a try. With tons of courses, and at a reasonable $35 per month, you can get a lot out of Lynda if you’re hungry to up your AE game.
Have fun and remember to never stop learning! If you have any questions or can recommend other online course that I've missed, then we'd love to hear about them in the comments below.