Monday, 23 March 2009

Adobe After Effects Tips #4

The Timeline Organisation

Extracts from the book Adobe After Effects 7 Studio Techniques This time some tips focusing on optimizing your timeline workflow.

- You can hide any column you want by clicking on the column's title (e.g. right-click on the Parent column) and choosing Hide this. You can also add any column you want by choosing Columns-> and the one you want.

- You can customize your Column layer's set by adding any column you like and then swtiching to another layer (F4 or little bracket icon on the Toggle Switches/ Modes icon on the bottom of the timeline).

- You can rename the layer by selecting it and pressing Enter.

- Even if you're working just by yourself, it's always good to have your timeline clean and organised. Besides naming your layers, you can easily give them different colors (I like having Video layers blue, Audio green, Adjustment white, Camera red and Light yellow - for example, you can choose any color you want). Just right-click on the little rectangular icon right next to the name of the Layer and pick the color you want.

- In case you're working on a project with some other people, you can leave a comment for them in every layer. Just add a Comment column and type what you need. In case you want to add a comment on a specific frame of the video, just find the frame, press *, double-click on the marker that appears and add a comment. You also have several other options, like naming the marker as a Chapter, adding URL etc. Thing is that these are suported only by formats like Quick Time or SWF.

- If you're done with working with a layer and you want to hide it in the timeline, you can switch the little Shy marker for it. It's the first one on the right - when the little guy peeking over the line is gone, the layer is set for shy. Then you just need to activate the Shy controller above it to hide all the layers set for shy. This way you hide them in your timeline, but not in your composition.

- To lock selected layers quickly, hit Ctrl+L. To unlock them, hit Ctrl+Shift+L.

- Page Up / Down moves you by one frame in the timeline. Shift+PG Up / Down skip 10 frames.

- Move through the layers by hiting Ctrl + Up / Down.

- If you want to trim your work area, just hit Composition -> Trim Comp to Work Area.

- Ctrl + D duplicated layers, Ctrl + Shift + D splits them.

- To set the start point of a layer, highlight it and hit [ (] for the end point).

- You can make a selected layer to fit the Comp size by right-clicking on it and selecting Transform -> Fit to Comp (Ctrl+Alt+F). You can also choose to fit its height or width.

- You can zoom in your timeline by holding down Alt + rolling your middle m

- Switch between Timeline and Composition window by hiting \ .

- If you want to replace a certain layer in the composition by another layer from your project window while keeping all the effects and keyframes inside the original layer, just highlight the layer you want to be replaced and hold down Alt while draging the new in the Timeline. Very useful things, much better than copying all the settings of the original layer.

- Martin

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