I’ve been using After Effects more or less daily for about 15 years, and teaching it (and related skills) for roughly half that. I know the program pretty close to inside and out, and even have a keyframe tattoo on my left wrist. I obviously like After Effects.
When Adobe first reached out regarding this project, I was obviously excited for the opportunity - it sounded like it would be a fun technical challenge as well as a creative one. As the project developed, it became clear (to me, anyway) that I was essentially getting commissioned to create a love letter to After Effects, and I have to say it’s one of the coolest opportunities I’ve ever been given.

Adobe’s specific request was for a project that could serve as a benchmark (in a variety of ways), but would also be aesthetically pleasing (“not just a science project”) and help showcase some of the ways you can use After Effects. There was also a desire to focus on GPU-accelerated effects, as that creates an easy A/B for users to see the speed gains those can bring. Lastly, it was likely this project would be publicly shared*, so users who wanted to explore the workflow and structure of such a project could download it and explore.
A version of this is now available as the official test project for AE's Multi-Frame Rendering, now in public Beta.



Here's the secondary color version of the project, leveraging an alternative effects stack:
An abstract project like this definitely needs an interesting audio track - both to make the final product more interesting and engaging, and to give me something to work from while I built it. Even for a project that will ultimately be silent, I often use an audio track with a prominent beat during production, to help make sure the project has a visual rhythm to it. That said, I really wanted a cool custom audio track, so I made it a priority! I’d met Wes Slover at a Half Rez the previous year, and knew that several friends had worked with him previously. I reached out, he was interested, and away we went!

It occurred to me that AE has two really noteworthy sounds every user knows: the beloved chime indicating a successful render, and the dreaded sheep/goat sound telling you your render has unfortunately failed. I handed off these two audio files along with a rough first draft of my animation, and let Wes and collaborator Joe Basile work their magic. Audio is a hugely important (but often overlooked and under-budgeted) aspect of motion design. Huge thanks to Wes & Joe for the awesome work on this!
---
I also wanted to give a big shout-out to my friend Dorca Musseb, who helped me dial in a color palette. I used colors from the After Effects logo and UI as a base, but most of those are intentionally designed to be subtle or onobtrutive, so they needed a little love to make them actually nice to look at!

---
I featured this project during one of my 2020 Adobe MAX sessions - you can view this for some additional insights into the production process, as well as some intermediate-level After Effects tips!