I personally would get both. I have used both. Each takes a different approach to covering similar material.
I'd describe Learn By Video this way: "We're going to show you how to use AE, we'll break it up into various aspects of the software, and we'll provide files so you can do the same things we're doing on the screen."
Expect to stop, rewind, and re-watch various sections a lot. The presenters, Todd Kopriva and Angie Taylor, are virtually peerless in their knowledge in the After Effects community.
I'd describe Classroom In A Book this way: "We're going to teach you how to use AE, and we're going to assign you various projects that encompass using the software. As you read along, we'll guide you step-by-step, using the same files you see in the book. At the end of each project you'll have a completed animation."
The Adobe creative team -- the folks who wrote the software -- have produced one of these books for each major version for as long as I have been using the application. For example, I finally learned how to effectively use Time Remapping with it.
I think you get a better chance to experiment with Classroom In a Book. I think you get more personal insight about the application with Learn By Video. If I had to pick one over the other, it would be an extremely tough call.
Dave gives a very accurate description of the differences between the two books. Of the two, I prefer the Classroom in a Book series. I like having the "assignments." I bought the CiaB books for CS4. They were great resources (they're still mostly relevant) but when CS5 came out I bought a subscription to Lynda.com for the same prices as 5 of the CiaB books (Ai, Ps, Ae, Id, Fl). It's $250 for an annual subscription or $30/month-by-month to access ALL their courses. For a little bit more, you can get the project files too.
Don't get me wrong, books are nice too. Sometimes I wish I had the Lynda.com course in book form so I could work offline, read on the train/bus, etc.
But, depending on your needs, having Lynda.com's vast library of software courses at your disposal is invaluable! Clients will ask for X and I'll think, "Oh, man—I need to go refresh that software, or skill set, or whatever." I'll find the appropriate course, scan the table of contents, find the tool/technique I'm looking for, watch it at 2x speed, and then get to work.
Once again, your advice has been greatly appreciated! :-)
I think that I will buy both books today. I will also look into the subscription to Lynda.com, however, the exchange rate being as it is..... *sigh*
I am thouroughly enjoying my time with After Effcets so far, and, having only seen it for the first time around the 24th of last month, every single thing I am reading and seeing since then has been learning material! I have enjoyed Andrew Devis and the CreativeCow sets so far, and spent countless hours on YouTube videos as well. Using all of that as the basics, I have started putting together some really rough compositions, but was particularly happy yesterday, when I finally achieved the "focus through then zoom through glass" effect (albeit a little rough still!).
Also, still being in the training stage, I was able to justify spending some time sourcing, editing (via Photoshop) and then compositing a 9 second clip of a Zerg Mutalisk from Starcraft destroying some of my managers favourite marine tanks - and then still getting him to agree it was all in the name of learning! :-)
Thanks again for the advice guys, and who knows, in ten or twenty years, hopefully I can answer a question or two for you!
Thanks for all the advice - I decided to purchase both of the training books. I also decided to get one of the books by Chad Perkins - I have seen some of his tutorials online, and the book seems to have some nice, often used, shortcuts in it. :-)
once i recieve it, ill give some feedback on it as well.
@bjgough, thanks - I have spoken to management, and we also agree that we should sign up to Lynda.com. I am going to wait for the three books to arrive, then I will make the plans to go ahead.
I am facing a rather daunting task of getting as much knowledge as I can in around four months, as we will start shooting around there. I will be responsible for all the compositing work on the project, and so it is "Cram", "Cram", "Cram"! :-)
But with all the online resources and tutorials, and the great study material available for purchase (and this great Forum of people), I really think it will be possible!
Thanks again everyone.
Just an update to everyone who gave advice, and maybe something for those new guys (like me) to look at -
I purchased three books for After Effects so far:
1) Adobe After Effects CS5 - Classroom in a Book
2) Adobe After Effects CS5 - Learn by Video
3) How to Cheat in After Effects
I will be going through them with a fine tooth comb over the next few weeks, and will post my opinion on them as I go along - note, this will be MY opinion on how helpful I find the material, so it should probably be taken with a pinch of salt (or more likely, a handful). My reasoning behind adding to this post, is the hope that I can point other people who are starting out, in a good direction.
oh yes, bjgough... I will still take a good look at signing up to Lynda.com! :-)
Opening After Effects and getting past the basics of compositing and keyframing is not difficult. The hard part is learning how to be an animaotr, an artist, an editor. Then you need to learn how to manipulate the audience. Then you need to start learning how to control the more subtle filters and simulations so you achieve your purpose instead of hitting the limits of your knowledge or patience.
While investing in these books was a good idea, what I think you need to do SOON is figure out what your project's specific needs are. Then concentrate on getting the experience with those filters and effects. For instance, if you're doing a lot of chromakeying, you must spend many hours understanding not only how Keylight works but how to precompose your footage, apply extreme color correction, apply the Keylight to the precomp, and extract the alpha to apply that to your original, non-filtered fopotage. And how to use masks to control the presence of inept costume elements like a green necktie.
If you're going to be doing motion tracking then, umm, you study that stuff extensively.
A few more things:
1. Nail down your shooting format and your editing format. These are never the same. Your AE production formats will not include either of those formats because you'll be using Animation or ProRes4444 for your alpha movies. Be sure your graphics peopel understand that "video is not print." The colro space is different, the pixels are different, the sizes are different.
2. Decide on a logical workflow:
2a. How will footage come to you?
2b. How will you deliver low rez roughs?
2c. How will you deliver higher rez roughs?
2d. How will you receive editing feedback and make your required changes?
2e. How will you deliver your working rez movies?
3. FILE NAMING CONVENTION:
3a. I cannot stress this too much. Every production company and every idiot shooter and beginner director poohpoohs the need for organization, like this stuff takes care of itself, It does not. Project tracking, version tracking, file naming, and the policing and enforcing of these practices is hard work and every hour you spend on it will save you ten or more hours kixing avoidable screwups based on miscommunication and laziness. You must have a sound, logical, and easy to follow way to make sure everyone is dealing with the same material at the same time.
3b. You must not use the words "final, last, or new" when naming your files. Stick with incrementing numbers and letters.
4. Know what yoru editing format is going to be so you can create your rendering and output modules.
5. Know what your delivery video and audio formats are going to be and know who will be creating the delivery media. Be sure you know what they need from you.
6. Have a backup system.
Message was edited by: bogiesan, stoopid typos.
I would like to take this oppertunity to thank each and every one of the guys who takes the time to supply answer and comments to our questions - and by "our", I mean us new guys. :-)
Your comments are extremely helpful, and have definately made me focus again on the more real issues that I will be faced with over the next few months on this particular leg of our project. The fun part, is that most of the people mentioned in your post are....well...me! :-)
We are extremely small at the moment, and are taking it a day at a time - making sure we do what we do, to the best! :-)
I will be saving this post somewhere close, and use it to keep track of where I am and what I am doing - and by the way, I cannot agree with you more about the file naming conventions - I come from an IT Windows Server Management background, and that is a fight I had there time and time again - luckily this time, I am respnsible for the file Libraries - lets see if I can take my own advice!
once again, thank you to all, and I look forward to the day when I can add something usefull to the posts as well!
Oh yes, and since the material I purchased is presented by Todd Kopriva, and I see him around the forums a lot....I'll watch what I have to say about it! :-)
Great stuff! Ill keep you on your toes.
So Far so Good. Just started with the Video training yesterday. Good solid basics so far. I am looking forward to more today. I am going to augment the training with as many Keying tutorials I can find, because I believe that, that will be the biggest part of my job for the start of our project.
A great weekend to all..