Compositions in Adobe After Effects Ep4/48 [Adobe After Effects for Beginners]
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Compositions in Adobe After Effects Ep4/48 [Adobe After Effects for Beginners]

November 8, 2019


Hello and welcome to the fourth video in
this Beginner’s Guide to Adobe After Effects. In this tutorial I’m going to
discuss compositions in After Effects. In the previous episode I discussed in
depth the timeline panel and how layers work. Now in After Effects all the layers
we see down in the timeline panel are contained in what is called a
composition. Now compositions are what we use to help build video presentations in
After Effects. In this video we are going to be covering the following topics:
What are compositions?, Composition tabs and how to create compositions. After
this video you will get a better understanding of how compositions work
so you will feel more comfortable moving forward. so let’s get into it! So what is
a composition? So when you begin a new project in After Effects you essentially
start with a clean slate with nothing whatsoever. When beginning an After
Effects project we typically begin by creating a composition or a comp for
short. This is done by clicking the new comp button or coming up to composition
in the top bar and clicking new comp. For now I’ll just click OK for our new comp.
With the new composition created you will see it is now shown in the project
panel over on the Left represented with the composition icon. In After Effects a
composition is represented by this graphic of a film clip with some shapes. In
this instance the comp is called comp 1 by default as I did not name it. With a
new composition ready we can see a blank screen in the visual composition panel
and an empty timeline panel down below. So a composition is essentially an empty
vessel to place our media content into such as video, text, animation or audio
files. As you begin to add your media elements into the timeline panel you
will start to build your layers which creates the composition. So here we are
in an After Effects document with one composition in the project panel
consisting of lots of layers which we can see in the timeline panel. Now some
After Effects projects can include many individual compositions
to create an entire video presentation. Let’s now jump to another example. So in
this example we can see a number of compositions in the project panel and if
we look closely in the timeline panel below we can see that some of the
compositions have been placed into another composition. Now some video or
animated sequences can be very complex and require lots of layers, so we can
use compositions as a way to focus on particular sequences, organize and manage complexity in a project. Now another way to think of compositions is to think of
them like groups. Compositions can be used to group lots of layers and then
the individual comps can be placed into one main composition like in this
example. So let’s take a closer look at this example I have open here, to learn
more about compositions. To follow along with this tutorial you will need to open
up this document I have prepared especially for this video. This can be
found in the introduction folder in the project folder. Now you can download this
project folder for a small fee the download link with instructions is in
the description. The download folder comes with lots of exercise documents we
will be using on this course that have been carefully developed to aid your
learning experience, the folder also comes with document resources such as
videos, graphics and images you can use to build your first video presentation
from scratch later on in this course. To get the full learning experience I
recommend you get the project folder, download link with instructions is in
the description. So with the project folder open click into the S-1
introduction folder, into the fourth folder compositions and open the Hyde
Park After Effects file and you should have something that looks like this. So
the first thing I want to draw your attention to is the timeline panel
across the top here, we can see this composition is one minute long and below
this we only have seven layers. Now if i drag my time indicator to the start and
press spacebar to activate preview we can see that there are lots of things
happening in the composition visually but only seven layers in the timeline
pane. Now if we look closely to the left of the timeline
panel we can see the name and icon for each layer. These icons indicate what type
of layers these are. In this instance we can see that each layer is a composition
layer and we can tell this because of the icon next to each of them. As seen
earlier in the project panel again we can see the composition icons indicating
that these are compositions. Now if we double click on one of these composition
layers and let’s start with the video edit stills layer, upon double click this
composition layer will now open in the timeline panel. Notice now we can see all
the individual layers that make up this composition. Here we have the video, type
shape and image layers and we know this because of the icons next to each over
on the left. Now it’s important to note that a single composition like this in
After Effects contains both visual and time information represented in two
separate panels. When we have a composition open we see the timeline
information in the timeline panel here at the bottom containing all the layer
elements and above we see a visual representation of these layer elements
in the composition window. As we click on some of the layers in the timeline panel
we can see them selected in the visual composition panel above. When creating a
composition in After Effects we use these two panels together to control the
time and visual dynamic of the presentation. So next I want to draw your
attention to the composition tabs. Now what our composition tabs? So currently we have this composition open and if we look carefully in the top left corner of
the timeline panel we have a tab that shows the composition name, notice this
is currently highlighted and to the left of this is another tab. So if we click
this we can see we are back to our composition called main sequence. So
currently we have our main sequence and the ‘video edit stills’ comp open in the
tab. So next I will come down to another layer in the main sequence and this time
I will double click on the video edit Wildlife layer. Upon double-click the
composition layer will now open in the timeline panel. So again like earlier we
can see all the individual layers that make up this composition and now we have a new tab at the top of the timeline panel. Now it’s easy to navigate through
your tab comps, simply click on them to reveal them. If you want to close them
you can click on the X over on the right tab and if you want to open it up again
make sure to go back to the main sequence and double click it and it will
reopen. So if I click back into the main sequence we can see that this single
comp contains seven composition layers. For this project I have chosen to
organize my main sequence into seven separate compositions. So why would I do
this? Well in After Effect we can use compositions as a way to focus on
particular sequences organize and streamline a project. Each section here
has complex video and animation settings with many layers. I have organized my
main sequence in this way to make it nice and easy to manage each section
individually, so my main composition is not full of layers and overly
complicated, this also gives me the flexibility to move each section around
as a whole and order the video sequence differently if I so choose. Ok so now
we know what compositions are how do we create them? So there are a number of
ways you can create a comp, one way is to come to the bottom of the project panel
here on the Left notice at the bottom of the panel we have the composition icon.
Here if we click this up will pop the composition settings box. So here there
are a range of settings we can customize. As a beginner you only really need to
pay attention to the comp name, dimensions, frame rate and duration. So at
the top you can name your comp and I’ll just call this new comp one, down below under preset we can set the dimensions. Now this will default to
the original composition you started the project with, in this instance it’s 1920
by 1080 our current standard dimension for video. This is what we want for now.
Now framerate is regional, depending on what part of the
world you’re from you will need to assign a particular frame rate. Here in
Europe we use 25 frames per second, so I’m going to use that for now. Next is
duration and we can set this for however long we want our composition to last. In
this instance I’ll set it to 10 seconds. Now here you can also set the background
color but for now I’ll just keep it set to black. Once happy I’ll click OK. So
upon click you will now see your composition open down in the timeline
panel. We can see the time span is 10 seconds across the top here and up in
the visual composition panel we can see the black screen. Now it’s important to
note that when you create a new composition in your project it will
always appear in the project panel. If we look in the project panel here on the
left we can now see our new comp 1 is present at the bottom. This composition
is now ready to start bringing in visual elements to create a video sequence but
for now I’ll click the X in the top left corner of the tab to close it. Now there
are two other ways to create a composition, first you can simply press
the keyboard shortcut cmd N on Mac or Ctrl N for PC. Upon click this will
bring up the composition settings just like earlier and I’ll just hit cancel.
The second way to create a comp is to come up to the top menu, click
composition, click new composition and upon click you will see the composition
settings again. So quite easy to create a new composition. Now once a composition
is created you can edit it, for example change the name, duration or the frame
rate. To do this you can come over into the project panel right click on the
composition and select composition settings. Upon click you will see the
same settings you saw when you created the comp. Here you can make any
modifications and click OK. Now another way for example, if you see a composition
in your timeline you can double click it to open it, then come up to composition
in the top bar and simply click composition settings, easy. And that
brings us to the end of this video so to recap some key things to remember
are: Compositions are like individual video
sequences, a typical After Effects project will have multiple compositions.
Compositions make it easier to organize complexity. Compositions contain both
visual and time information represented in two separate panels, the timeline
panel and the visual composition panel and when you create a composition it
appears in the project panel. Now in After Effects every element that is
brought into the program is placed into the project panel and we saw in this
video that when created, compositions are also stored in this panel. Now it may
help to think of this project panel as a kind of links panel. Now as a beginner
there are a few important things you will need to learn about this panel
before we move on. In the next video I’m going to discuss the project panel in a
bit more depth and show you how compositions as well as all media
elements brought into the program are managed and placed into your timeline
panel ready for editing. So see you in the next video!

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  1. To get the full learning experience and follow along:

    Get the FREE PDF course index and the downloadable project folder from the course overview video here:
    https://youtu.be/uRdfvpQ5rcQ

    Enjoy!

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