My 5 After Effects “Duh!” Moments


I think you’ll agree that learning Adobe After Effects can be a bit overwhelming when you’re first starting out.

Over the past 10 years I’ve learned a ton about After Effects but in the early days I certainly fumbled along the way. Sometimes I’d come across things in After Effects that made me facepalm so hard I nearly fell out of my chair.

Read my list of After Effects “duh!” moments and learn from my mistakes:

1. Not Moving a Layer’s Anchor Point

I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t find out about moving the Anchor Point until after I got my first job.


I must have missed that class or something. I remember trying to animate a line rotating like a clock and you can imagine the parade of fail.

Why? I didn’t know you could move the anchor point.

move anchor point in after effects

2. Animating Just One Camera in a Composition

You can use multiple cameras in one timeline. I don’t know why I just made up this rule in my head that you can only have one camera in a timeline.


multiple cameras in after effects

You can have as many cameras as you like, animate them, parent them, etc. I was pre-comping the same animated scene then a different camera. Oh boy.

3. Not Using the Looping Animation Expressions

The LoopOut expression- when I started using this one I was like “holy crap are you kidding me?!”

Before learning about this expression I was copying and pasting keyframes over and over and over again.

So much time wasted.

Use the Loop Out expressions to speed up your workflow:


after effects loop out expression
This expression can be applied to pretty much any layer property to loop a set of keyframes for the duration of the composition.

Finding this expression made me feel like an idiot but this taught me a lesson:

No matter what your skill level is with After Effects you should not be afraid to at least look into expressions and how they can speed up your workflow.

4. Not Using the Graph Editor

This one time, a long time ago, I tried using the graph editor. I totally didn’t get it so I left it alone.

Big mistake!

The graph editor can be very handy and in no time you can make it your bitch best friend.

If you want to animate with more nuance and control learn how to manipulate keyframes in the graph editor.

Check out this tutorial on how to use the graph editor.

5. Not Staying Informed

And last but not least, try to keep up with the latest updates, news, plugins, scripts and tutorials for After Effects.

I know you’re thinking:

“Who’s got time for that? I’ve got work to do!”

It can seem overwhelming but getting a Twitter client like HootSuite can make it super easy. What I like about Hootsuite is that allows you to have multiple streams that follow a keyword or Twitter username. Be sure to follow @AdobeAE and make the keyword #AfterEffects a stream.


Spend less time fumbling around in After Effects and find answers because they’re out there more than ever before. Here are just a few places to get you started-

That’s it! Do you have any “duh!” moments when learning After Effects?

Marissa Joyner

Owner, creator of, providing easy to use Adobe After Effects templates around the web since 2007.

Yes, that’s right. Almost 10 years!

When not living inside After Effects you can find me playing with my crazy kids and exploring Austin, TX.

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