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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this movie, I'm going to show you how to crop layers in time. In the process, I'm also going to show you several really key keyboard shortcuts that I find myself using all the time. Maybe it's just my workflow, maybe it's just me, but they are ones that I use very frequently. So, first of all, here's the trick. I'm going to move out in time and let's say I want to start at about five seconds in, once we zoom out and then zoom back in. This is where I want to start my layer. What I can do with this layer selected is hit Option or Alt on the PC and then the Left Bracket key.
That is the key directly to the right of the letter P on your keyboard. So, Option+Left Bracket or Alt+Left Bracket. And you can see that it actually crops the layer to the Current Time Indicator. This saves you from having to drag this to that spot. It gets it exactly right there instantly. By the same token, if I drag this a little bit later on in time, let's say, to about 20 seconds out, if I hold Option+Right Bracket or Alt+Right Bracket, then it's going to crop the end of the layer. Now, what I'm about to tell you next, and actually everything in this video might be a little confusing.
You might want to write it down and keep this as a reference until it becomes like old standard memory to you. Here's another few keyboard shortcuts. Let's say for example I chopped this at five seconds and I want this start point here to be the new first frame. So, I can drag this until it goes to the first frame. But there is a keyboard shortcut I can use next. Option+Home on the Mac or Alt+Home on the PC. That'll make it so that the first frame of the layer will jump to the first frame of the composition. Now, here's another couple of great shortcuts.
If I press the Right Bracket key by itself-- no Alt, no Option, just that key by itself-- it will jump the outpoint, in other words, the endpoint of the layer to the Current Time Indicator. Likewise, if I want to start this layer, let's say at some random time, let's say three seconds and 11 frames. I press the Left Bracket. It will jump the endpoint of the layer to my Current Time Indicator. Now, what if you want to not move the layer, but you want to move the Current Time Indicator to the endpoint and outpoint of the layers. Well, you could use the keyboard shortcuts I and O. So, if I press the letter O, I'm going to jump the Current Time Indicator to the outpoint of the layer.
If I press I, I'm going to jump the Current Time Indicator to the endpoint of the currently selected layer. Now, using one of the keyboard shortcuts we learned in the last movie, here's a cool trick. Oftentimes when you have layers you want to stagger them so that one layer follows another. What I'm going to do to do that is select this layer. Hit Command+D or Ctrl+D to duplicate it. And let's say I want these two layers to come right after one another. What I can do is I'm going to hit Command +Down Arrow to select this bottom layer. I'm going to press the letter O to get to the outpoint of layer 2.
Then I'm going to advance 1 frame by pressing Page Down, because this is where I want the next layer to start, 1 frame after the last frame of layer 2. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to hit Command+Up Arrow to select layer 1, and then I'm going to press the Left Bracket key to jump the start point of that layer to the Current Time Indicator. Then through that series of shortcuts, you could see that I end on 1 frame and then there is no gap and the very next frame I start the next layer.
So, basically what we've done here is we've sequenced these layers without having any extra gaps or any extra overlap, and all through the power of keyboard shortcuts. If you were to do this manually, it would take you a long time. And again, there is a big chance for error there. So, these core keyboard shortcuts we've been discussing, again might not come in handy at first, but if you keep a record of these and you learn them, they really are invaluable.
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