After Effects on an iPad?


Working from home is great but poses problems when you decide to do some home remodeling. What I thought would be a two week inconvenience has turned into a two month ordeal as my office has been relocated to the kitchen table. Over the weeks working from a wooden chair has my back longing for the comfort of my couch. Also, plugging my laptop, hard drive, and other accessories into a power strip, and then draping the cords over chairs and across the floor to the nearest outlet, got me thinking that the portability I should have in a laptop didn’t stack up to TV commercial claims. There had to be a better way of doing this. That’s when the seed of a wireless network finally started to germinate in my brain.

I’m no networking genius and I’ve never had the need for a wireless network, so I began researching some of the equipment I already own to see where I stood. The first thing I checked was the Apple Airport base station in my office. A brief look at the base station revealed a USB port on the back. I had no idea what this was for, so instead of hunting down the manual I never read, I looked it up on the Net.  A quick Google search took me to Apple’s website and right there on the front page, to my utter amazement, were the words share a hard drive. I was stunned. I had no idea the USB port existed for that purpose, so I swore an oath to myself to read the instructions of future electronic purchases more thoroughly.

I immediately disconnected the 2TB hard drive from my computer and connected it to the base station. With absolutely no effort my laptop discovered it and I was freed from the burden of a few cables. This hard drive contains all of my client projects as well as frequently used files, stock footage, and images. I was wary about running an After Effects project solely through a home wireless network, but found that it was quite stable. I had no trouble opening projects and working with them. The only thing I did notice was a significant lag when opening and viewing Quicktime movies. In those cases I found pulling them down locally to work with was best.

Overall it was pretty cool, I used the hard drive this way for a 90 second info graphic project I was working on, without a hiccup. I even found the new configuration had no trouble transferring the completed project to my FTP for client download.

According to Apple you can also use the base station to access the drive remotely via the internet. Just knowing I could leave my drive at home and have access to all of my design elements remotely is really exciting.

This experimentation with the hard drive got me thinking of other ways to streamline my workflow, and while sitting on the couch watching TV and browsing Facebook on my iPad, I had an idea. Would After Effects work on my iPad? Another Google search and 5 minutes later I found the Air Display app. Air Display is available as a download on the App Store and costs $9.99 at the time of writing.

Air Display is described as an app that allows you to use your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch as a wireless display extending your computer desktop. As an experiment I downloaded the app, followed the instructions and within moments had After Effects “running” on my iPad. It was completely impractical of course, the iPad’s screen is far too small to effectively use After Effects this way.

Not to be deterred by the lack of screen real-estate, I decided to step it up a notch. By turning on my Apple TV I was able to use my iPad as an intermediary to broadcast my desktop to a 52 inch flat screen tv, and with a wireless Wacom pad, lounged on my couch creating some simple animations.

There was a significant lag when performing actions but the potential with a future version of the iPad and a faster network connection really intrigued me. Who knows, maybe it will happen. Getting paid to lay on the couch would suit me just fine.

What do you think? Any time saving ideas using wireless networks? Any problems with them? Please share.

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