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Adding more layers

From: After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

Video: Adding more layers

Now, let's add the background layer to our comp. We're going to use Landscape.mov. I notice if I add it to the composition and drop it, it will snap to the edges, but it will also appear as layer 1, upskewing the title. Of course, this is easy to fix. I can just drag it below the title in the Timeline and now it appears as the background layer. But let me show you how to do this directly. I'll delete the layer, and this time I'll drag Landscape.mov directly to the left-hand side of the Timeline panel.

Adding more layers

Now, let's add the background layer to our comp. We're going to use Landscape.mov. I notice if I add it to the composition and drop it, it will snap to the edges, but it will also appear as layer 1, upskewing the title. Of course, this is easy to fix. I can just drag it below the title in the Timeline and now it appears as the background layer. But let me show you how to do this directly. I'll delete the layer, and this time I'll drag Landscape.mov directly to the left-hand side of the Timeline panel.

When we use this method a layer will begin at zero and will also automatically be centered in the comp. And I'd like to reduce the opacity of this layer so the top is not quite so dark. So I'll press T for Opacity and then scrub the value, let's say 50%. That should work. Another thing I'd like to do with the background is turn on Lock switch. That means that I can't accidentally select the background when I want to select the title. It also means I can't edit any of the values. So if you want to edit it again, just turn off the Lock switch, edit, and turn it back on again.

The next layer I'd like to add is the Snowflake movie. The Snowflake will appear as the O in the title, and it will animate on a curve into position. Again, if I drag it to the comp panel, it will sit on top of the title. I actually would like it to sit below the title and above the background. So here is a good tip: by dragging it to the left-hand side of the Timeline, you'll be able to choose where in the layer stack it appears--at the top, in between, or below the Landscape layer. Let's drop it in between, so you can see now it's sandwiched between my title and the background layer.

While we're here, let me show you one other method for adding a layer to a comp. I'll take the Snowflake layer and delete it. This time when I add the Snowflake I'll add it to the right-hand side. Again, I can decide where in the layer stack it will be positioned, but I can also decide where its in point will be. As I drag the layer left and right, you'll see a second time indicator following my mouse. The timecode readout on the left- hand side of the Timeline panel will also update as I drag.

When I release the mouse, that timecode will become the in point for the layer. What this means is that layers don't have to begin at zero, so the snowflake only appears as it passes the in point. Of course I can change the layer's in point simply by dragging the layer back and forth. The new in and out points are also updated in the Info panel. Just be careful not to drag the end of the layer; that actually trims it. This layer I actually want to start at 0, so I'm going to show you a shortcut. Press the Option key on Mac or Alt key on Windows and press Home.

Option+Home sends a layer back to start at zero. In the next movie, I'll animate the snowflake along a curve and drop it into position.

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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

29 video lessons · 31878 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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