Regarding Resolution

Joe Clay | Nov 18, 2017

Why I record tutorials with full-size UI

I guess I write this at the risk of alienating some people—someone has already called me a piece of shit for making high-resolution, free tutorials—but I have reasons for making my tutorials the way I do. I understand that things may be hard to see on smaller screens—though I have no issue editing these at half-size on my 15" MacBook Pro. Anyway, what follows is my explanation.

I hate zooming in tutorials and I hate non-native resolutions

It might sound odd to you, but I don't like watching tutorials that have tiny resolutions. I abandoned 1024x768 screens more than a decade ago, so watching someone open and close panels throughout a tutorial really bothers me. And I hate working at non-native resolutions so I don't record that way.

I also find it incredibly distracting when people zoom in to specific UI controls and settings. Often, I'd rather them just work so I can immediately see how it affects picture. I think it might be important for beginner tutorials so they can see what they're looking at but that's not what I'm trying to do with Workbench. Eventually I might make a beginner-focused tutorial, and in that case I may zoom those. But that's not going to happen for our weekly tutorials. Plus I'd rather spend the time thinking up new ideas in After Effects than adding zooms to a ton of cuts in my edit. And while you might think that's easy, here's what a typical Workbench edit looks like in Premiere:


Focus is the most important reason why I make my tutorials as they are. It might also sound odd that I'd mention focus to you if you're having trouble reading specific settings while watching my tutorials on a laptop. But it is a matter of focus. I don't design these tutorials to be specific to a set of settings. If that's what you're looking for you're missing the point. If there's anything absolutely necessary for something to work, I call it out. I put expressions on our site and in the comments—when I can since YouTube refuses to use a single function to strip HTML. And I try to use Expressionist when going through expressions so that they're a little easier to see. Some of our older tutorials were done before I had Expressionist, and some of them were done before it was working in CC 2018. If there's something I think you should have specific access to or would benefit from, I publish the project file—and sometimes specific elements to our Patreon.

But I do that because I think screwing around inside of After Effects is hugely important as I've said numerous times. And sometimes having the setup or having the code gets you straight to being able to mess around with the concept. Concepts are the absolute root of my tutorials. They are what I am trying to teach. That's why I'll frequently explain how I got somewhere, or what I was thinking about that lead to a discovery.

I watch tutorials all the time on my phone. I've never had an issue, but I'm not watching for the settings. I don't watch tutorials to mimic something specific. And I don't build my tutorials so that you guys go out and do that either. I don't really want to see a thousand copies of the exact same thing I've made. What I think is dope is when someone comes back to me with, "hey man, I took your effect and modified it like this so that it does this now." That rocks.

Ask questions

That said, as always, if you have a specific question, or if you're lost on something I have no problem fielding questions. Maybe I overlooked something, or something was confusing. I'm not perfect. But if you're looking to see that I set a Gaussian Blur to a 2.4px radius, you're missing the forest for the trees.