Classes are running in-person and live online. Secure your seat today

After Effects Workflow Tips: Video Tutorial

After Effects Workflow Tips: Video Tutorial

This tutorial covers a range of organizational tips and tricks to get the most out of After Effects

Download Project File here.

Replacing Footage

  1. If a link is broken due to renaming the source file or moving it, it will display an error message in AE. A corrupted object placeholder will appear instead.

 To reload footage, right click on the missing file in the Project panel.

  1. Select Replace Footage.
  2. Navigate to the location of the file. Select the file and hit OK.
  3. If multiple broken files have been moved to the same location, AE will automatically update all the links.

Precomping and Mini Flowchart

  1. Shift-click on all the green layers.
  2. Right click on any selected layer and choose Pre-compose. Name the Precomp “Logo Animation Precomp”.
  3. Hit Tab on the keyboard to open up Mini Flowchart. Click on Logo Animation Precomp to navigate to it.

The Flowchart will indicate which Precomps are in which Comps by way of arrows. Arrows will point to which Comp a Precomp is nested within.

Color Coding Layers

  1. Shift-click on the STAR track matte and STAR 2 layers.
  2.  Click on the colored box next to either of their names and select a different color.
  3. Shift-click on the NORTH track matte and NORTH 2 layers. Repeat step 2.
  4. Click on the colored box next to EVER UPWARDS… and select a different color.
  5. Click on the colored box next to Star Outlines and select a different color.

Renaming and Source Names

  1. Right click on the background layer and rename it Background.
  2. Click on Layer Name at the top of the layer stack to view Source Name. This displays the original file name that the particular layer is derived from. This Source Name is also viewable within the Project Panel.

Sources can be reused within a project as multiple instances, all with different names.

Project Panel Groups and Search

  1. In the Project Panel, click on the folder icon at the bottom of the window. Name the new Folder to Logo Assets.
  2. Shift-click on Logo Layers and Logo.
  3. Drag them both into the Logo Assets folder to neaten up the Project Panel.
  4. To find any particular layer, type the name into the Search bar.

Adjustment Layer

  1. Go to Layer > New > Adjustment Layer. Name it Snowfall.
  2. Make sure the new layer is above all the other layers in the layer stack. Go to Effects and type in CC Snowfall.
  3. Click and drag the effect onto the Snowfall layer.
  4. In Effect Controls, change the Size to 8.

Video Transcript

This is Tziporah Zions for Noble Desktop and this tutorial, I'm going to try and organize your projects on Adobe after effects. We're going to be showing a couple of ways to organize all your layers and files on a project. We'll start with showing how to reload broken links if they go missing or get renamed and go on to making pickups to meet an upper layer stack. We'll be renaming layers, color, coding them and talking about layer sources and how to group the project panel to folders to.

Finally, we're going to be using the search function to look up specific layers and making an adjustment layer to drop a quick slog effect over the entire project. So here's what the project looks like when it is done.

You can also check out the layers start to how, in this case, it's all like nice and neat. So knowing how to organize projects is super important. It makes navigating the interface often easier, and some effects can only be achieved with an organized layout.

It'll speed a project workflow. And also, if you're working on a team, it's good to set up your files in a way that's easy for someone else to use, too. So we're going to be using two external files for this one for the logo and one for the background picture.

You could find a project file the video description below with all the assets collected together. So let's get started. So the first thing that we're going to be doing, I'm going to show you how renaming an asset in the asset folder will break a link, but then I'm going to show you how to link it.

So here is the file location of where my assets are. Like, you could recognize that's the background that we're using. You know, this is the logo that we're using, and I want to show you, I'm going to rename this one.

Give me a moment. Let's just call it frozen landscape, right, we renamed it. Let's head back to after effects, right? And you get this error message and then you see like, it's corrupted over here. You get this background, you know this color over here.

It shows that you know, it's not working. And if you try to play the footage also, you know, it's not working in the background. And this scares a lot of people, but there's no reason to be scared because you very easily can replace it.

So we right click it. We go to replace footage, go to file, and then let's go to, you know, locate your acid folder again. Let's see. I have it over here assets. I click on the file that I am aiming for import and good moment.

There it is, back again. So that's how if you ever see that kind of coached outlook on your assets, you get that error message or that's how you replace them. Here's the thing, though, so let's say we move our assets.

I'm going to take both of these guys. I'm going to move them right outside the asset folder. So now you see this folder empty. So I move the file location right, head back in after effects, you know? Oh, no, it's freaking out.

It's freaking out. It doesn't know where any of my assets are. Right? So let's do the same thing again. And now in this case, we have multiple files are missing, right? So let's head over to once again click on any of the missing files.

And this case, some of my my love was still visible because I've turned them into like object layers, but like the main file, like the illustrator layers, those are nonexistent at this point. You know, you see like the little corruption over here.

So right click again on any missing file replace footage file on all asset folders empty. So let's go locate those files again. Remember, we had moved it right outside the asset folder. I'm going to click on my missing file import like before and you see this.

This means that let's lets you have a couple of items missing and they're all together. Once you locate where that folder is or all these items are together after effects is going to be like, Oh, here's the rest of them and automatically import them all back together.

So perfect. OK, now we're going to move on to pre-comping all these letters and you see how there's like a ton of these were in layers over here, and it can look kind of daunting. But what we're going to be doing is we're going to be turning this into a pre-comp so it's both neater and we can apply effects all at once to a single pre-count. So I'll show you what I mean. So I am going to shift. Click on all my green layers. I'm going to right-click on any selected layer and we're going to pre-compose real name or pre-comp.

Let's call it what we call this. I know. Let's just call it. Star logo animation. OK, I'm also going to color-coded just because I like any other color. Aside from the typical like sandy color they provide you with, um, I'm going to make it pink.

All right. So now that we have this ProComp, I'm going to hit this for scale and I'm going to show you now as you have noticed, you know, this logo is much smaller than I would like it to be.

It's also off center. So I'm going to a first move, my anchor point, which is this little round thing, the center by Y and the anchor point is just a reference point that After  Effects use for the object like, you know, its point of reference for shrinking it, moving it, etc. So I'm just going to move to the center and then I'm going to V for selection. So I do not use an anchor point anymore, and then I'm going to make this thing three times as big. We're putting in 300% and to scale, click and drag it.

So it's centered. There we go. So sorry about that. So as you can see, I managed to move all of my layers altogether together, right? So typically I would have to scale every single layer involved. But since this is a pretty calm, I just had to scale one layer that contained all these layers.

And there you go. You know, it's it's done in a flash. So the next thing we're going to be doing is let's navigate the mini flow chart. So with any of our players selected, so actually in this particular case, we want our pre selected I'm going to hit the tab on my keyboard.

Whether you have a PC or Mac. And that brings up this mini future. Now you can see that we have the names of our different columns, right? Finished product, star logo animation, main camp where we are right now.

You can tell that we're there right now because it's got a bit of a great out color in the background. And these arrows indicate which pre-concert essentially nested within other ones, right? So if we click on Star Logo Animation, right, we get into our actual pre-comp and I'm actually going to hide this start to layer, right? I want our star layer and now I'm going to tab again, and I want to go back to remain confident, right? And you see this arrow. So we're going back to the comp, you know, the overarching comp that contains the other comps and depending on which direction the arrow is right.

So we see that the arrow is going from star logo animation into main comp. So that way we understand that our star logo animation is inside our main comp and this little straight line up and down. That just means that there's nothing at the other end, like performing comp, there's nothing else.

And after star logo animation, there's nothing else but we head into a finished product. We see that the, you know, a logo, the logo pre-comp is an finished product, but after logo, that's it, right? It's done. So let's head back to main comp finish product makeup comp.

All right, now, I'm going to have to rename layers that way, you know, if you have all sorts of like weird layer names, we can rename them in a way that provides a lot more efficiency and a lot more.

You know, you can expedite your projects a lot quicker if you just understand where all your layers are and which one corresponds to which. And naming layers super simple and like, it's a major cornerstone of keeping organized. So I'm going to rename my background layer.

So over here you can see I'm I'm just leaving background, which is good enough, but I'm actually going to capitalize Adobe, which I know is not such a big difference, but I personally like it. And it's also important if you get, you know, someone hands you a layer that has like a bunch of numbers in it or

something and you're like, What is this? So I'm going to click on the layer that I want to rename. I'm going to right-click on it and just go over to your name. That's it. Capital, be background. Now the shortcut, by the way, for that is I have a PC, so I'm going to enter, you know, and

that way I can rename it on my PC. But if you have a Mac, you hit return. And yeah, there you go. That's how you rename it. You know, if I want to rename this one dark tint just kind of capitalized on this.

That's this particular layer there. So that's all it takes to rename your layers. So again, just remember that like renaming layers and color coding them and pretty comping. There are all ways to keep your file organized, so it's much easier to navigate.

And speaking of color coding, so let's head in to our star logo animation because as you recall, all these are green and I'm like, Well, which one corresponds to what? And so these are a bunch of track mats.

I'm not going to get too deep into the explanation. You can see that like a bunch of these kind of like, appear out of nowhere and track mats are essentially shapes that will hide these layers from you. And each one, as you can see, I've named them to correspond to a different layer, right?

And a couple of them don't. But most of them do, but they're all green. So I'm like, Well, which one corresponds to one? You know which one? And I don't want to have to read the name of every single one because I got so many layers and they're all green.

But if I can't call them, I can know which one corresponds to which at a glance. So I'm going to do is I'm going to shift click on layers that I want to color code and I'm going to make these lavender right?

So these two layers go together. My nurse track mat shift. Click North. Click on that little, little cute little square. You don't actually want a very different color. I want this to be fuchsia. I want these to, like, markedly stand out.

Now these two guys, these actually kind of our their own deal. They don't correspond to anything. But for that purpose, I'm going to make one. And I actually think I'm going to choose Brown because I think I'm a yellow layer and my main pop star aligns, you're going to be orange.

And then I contract Matt and Icon again together and both you guys in with your phone. And I actually don't really like the different colors that make you shine. I like that much better. And then star in the objects.

I'm going to keep those green. There's, you know, no reason why not to because now they stand out from others. And that's how you color code. So color coding is great for differentiation, like telling what's what at a glance?

Very quick. You know, so I could just look at this and be like all the fisher ones go together. The, you know, the green ones go together and this orange and brown one, they're kind of their own dea
Stand alone for the rest. All right, now we're we are back in our main cup and we're finishing up, but one of the last things I want to show you is how the difference there's a difference to the source name of you and like the name that you've given a layer and reason being is check this out so you know where it says your name right through your names. Pretty straightforward. I'm going to hit that where it says your name is first name, and now you see the name changed and it was the name of the file itself.

And you can also see in my product panel, there you go. That's name of the file itself. And the reason why this is important is because check this out. There's instances of this file present in my main comp, and I'll show you what that means by example. Let's take let's say I'm going to drag you now frozen landscape. I'm going to plop it on top. Scale it down. Small, small, small. I know this looks weird, but there's a reason I'm doing this and I'm going to float this in the corner.

Check it out. It's moving a little closer. So these two look different, right? And that's important. I am going to just grab a quick fact over here. I'm going to drop it on to frozen landscape, the new one, I'm going to blurt out blah blah.

OK. And now this, you know, this instance of the frozen landscape picture like that looks different than the one I'm doing over here. Now they both have the same source name. But when you go to layer name, they're different.

I could rename, you know, new frozen landscape. And there are each one has its own effects. So while they both derive from the same source, right, they're essentially the same image. But they've both they've been altered in different ways.

And if I want to be like, oh, you know, like which file did they come from? I click on layer name. I go to search name and look, Oh, there you go. They're both from this file. You know, I could drop another one down and I can make this one non or no negative ten.

And it's, you know, upside down. And it's that size and I could rotated and it's a whole bunch of other things. And that's also distinct from the other two instances of this file. But they all have the same source name, but their names are different.

So you can have multiple instances with different names that come from the same source, and you can tell which source they come from looking over here and looking at their source name. But the layer name will help you tell the difference between every single one.

All right. Almost done. Now let's say I'm looking at my project panel and I'm like, It's a little confusing what goes where you can actually put these guys in folders, right? Serious. Create a new folder. And again, this will help you organize your project panel.

Know you might be working with a, you know, a project that has like ten, 20, 30 layers, you know, like what goes where? So again, organization is key to be able to tell what goes where. So, logo, I'm going to put logo assets, I think, and I'm going to grab logo layers, control or control on a pc to get the or an iMac that's come command, and I'm going to drag these into logo assets. There we go. I'm actually going to grab this one. Also, drop it into logo assets, and there we go. We've already cleaned up our project file.

But then you're like, Let's say you want to quickly find a particular file very quickly. And I'm like, Well, where did I? You know, where did I put my logo file? So let's see. I'm going to type in.

I'm going to put a tag line. There we go. And it also will show you through the dropdown layers. You know where the main location of this file is. And then I can grab that. It could drag it onto here.

Have another instance of it? I could, you know, scale it up, do whatever I want to it. So there you go. Now, the last thing that we're going to be doing is making an adjustment layer. And the reason why this is particularly important in organizing your layers is that adjustment layers are essentially empty layers, a bit like

a null object. If you're familiar with that, that allow you to quickly drop an effect onto the entire project on all the layers very quickly. So we're going to head up to layer new adjustment layer. I'm going to hit enter.

Sorry about that. I'm going to click on it, hit enter on my P.C. return on a Mac. I'm going to name this snowfall. And as you can see, his position at the top of my layer stack, ignore the finished product file because that's just for an example.

But for purposes of our animation, it is essentially at the top or near the top of all our layers. And that's important because the adjustment layer is going to affect everything below it. So hierarchy and we're layers are placed within your panel is important.

I'm going to head over here. I'm going to put in CC snowfall. Grab it, drag it on to snowfall. And let's see. I'm going to pull up the size of my snowflakes for maybe nine. Let's zoom in a little bit nice big flakes in.

There you go. I have a small effect on my entire project. So that's it. So knowing how to organize your project is important skill for any designer, and it speeds a production and allows for easier navigation of the interface.

And it's really necessary if you're working on a team. And I have to hand a file to other people. Plus, there's like some effects. It really only can be pulled off easily with good organization. So, you know you want to use these techniques to mean a project with tons of layers use adjustment layers to quickly add effects to big files and remember how to reel in any layers in case of missing footage. So, yeah, that's all for this tutorial. I hope you've enjoyed learning how to organize layers and Adobe after effects, and this has been Tziporah Zions for Noble Desktop.

How to Learn After Effects

Master After Effects with hands-on training. After Effects is the industry-standard application for motion graphics, animation, and visual effects.

Yelp Facebook LinkedIn YouTube Twitter Instagram