An interesting debate sprang up in the comments on my previous posts. The question came up of "What do you do in AE that Fusion/Shake aren't good tools for?" While I feel that "my software is better than yours" discussions are silly, there is much to be gained by users and developers from a healthy discourse about the workflows that particular programs have really nailed. "After Effects suxx0rz compared to Shake" == not productive. "I can do this one thing I do a lot really fast in Combustion, whereas it takes forever in Fusion" == productive.
Last year I was putting together a teaser trailer and found myself missing a shot. The shot we desperately needed was a rack-focus from a barn to flies buzzing in the foreground over some unseen form. I had a still photo of a barn, and was able to camera-map it onto some planes in After Effects and create a convincing camera move. Next came the flies.
Creating the swarm of flies that buzzed around the camera, flitting in and out of focus, took 20 minutes.
Don't believe me? Well, I recreated the feat in AE7 for you to watch, The link below is to an unedited screen capture of a 17-minute session in AE7. I was able to shave three minutes off my time because I'd done it once before.
I considered the creation of this shot to be a triumph of AE's flexibility, 3D capabilities (including depth-of-field), and expressions. It might be a bit beyond what most people would consider appropriate for a comping app, but of course that's what I loved about it. I made a cool, spooky shot out of a still photo in only a few hours. There are many things I know I could do in Fusion or Shake that I would have a tough time with in AE, but the comment specifically asked for an example of something easier in AE than in Fusion, and I submit to you:
flies.mov (5.3mb Quicktime 7)
Feel free to comment and include links to your own examples of stuff you did in your favorite app. Better still, include a link that proves me wrong, showing you doing this in 16 minutes with some other tool!