Increasing Efficiency in After Effects with Pre-Composing and Copy/Pasting

After Effects is a complex program. It often takes many layers to accomplish the animation you have envisioned, and while the After Effects interface has plenty of flexibility, without proper organization, you might soon discover that you are spending more time scrolling through your layers than actually working on your animation.

In this post we will explore how to go about organizing compositions in a way to make them more manageable, while still maintaining complete creative control over the project.

I’ll also show you a trick about duplicating Transform properties across multiple layers that should save you lots of time in certain scenarios.

Before we look at the video though, let’s talk about pre-composing. Pre-composing is the process by which we can turn multiple layers into their own composition. Every After Effects project is made up of compositions, which can contain any type of media, including audio, video, graphics, and other objects in any combination, or even other After Effects compositions. We must create a composition to begin working in After Effects.

Let’s see how to do this after the break.

With perfect planning, we probably wouldn’t need to pre-compose layers in After Effects, but we live in the real world, and sometimes projects take an unexpected left turn, and you have a Layers panel that looks like this:

As you can see, there’s 28 layers in this project.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be this complex.  For instance, the project could be exported, and the sound could be added in Soundbooth, removing 9 of those layers.  Or perhaps there’s a method for only using one instance of the “First 2” comp, and animating it to achieve the same effect in the final project.  Either way, occasionally, you will find yourself in this scenario.

In the video below, we will show you how to go from the Layers panel above, to this one:

Same project, but this one has the layers pre-composed into a cleaner format. Also, the Layers panel above shows an incomplete project. In the video, I’ll show you how to finish it off, and come up with the ticking clock seen here:

Let’s examine how to be more efficient in After Effects with this video presentation:

Increasing Efficiency in After Effects with Pre-composing


Graphic digits used in this post

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