I’ve been using After Effects more or less daily since about 2004, 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 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.
This project became the official test project for AE's Multi-Frame Rendering and was essentially the face of public communications on that feature. I was later told it may have become the most-rendered After Effects project ever?

Oh, and it got a cameo during the roundup of new After Effects features in an 2021 Adobe MAX Keynote video!
While it ended up not being publicly available, here's the secondary color version of the project, designed to leverage an alternative effects stack for A/B testing.
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 unobtrusive... 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!