After Effects, or Velvet Revolution

Lev Manovich

Abstract


This article is a first part of the series devoted to the analysis of the new hybrid visual language of moving images that emerged during the period 1993–1998. Today this language dominates our visual culture. It can be seen in commercials, music videos, motion graphics, TV graphics, and other types of short non-narrative films and moving image sequences being produced around the world by the media professionals including companies, individual designers and artists, and students. This article analyzes a particular software application which played the key role in the emergence of this language: After Effects. Introduced in 1993, After Effects was the first software designed to do animation, compositing, and special effects on the personal computer. Its broad effect on moving image production can be compared to the effects of Photoshop and Illustrator on photography, illustration, and graphic design. This analysis is used to support the author’s theory that the logic of the new visual language is that of remixability. Normally remixing involves combining content – for example, different music tracks. In this case what gets remixed is not only the content of different media or simply their aesthetics, but their fundamental techniques, working methods, languages, and assumptions. United within the common software environment, cinematography, animation, computer animation, special effects, graphic design, and typography have come to form a new metamedium. A work produced in this new metamedium can use all techniques that were previously unique to these different media, or any subset of these techniques.

Keywords


aesthetics; design; interface; film; motion graphics; software; visual culture

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14434/artifact.v1i2.1357