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Let Chris and Trish Meyer share with you two of the core secrets required to become an efficient After Effects user: understanding the render order (the internal order of operations After Effects uses when calculating masks, effects, transformation, track mattes, and layer styles) and the use of multiple compositions where a composition may be nested into one or more other comps. This makes it easier to group layers, efficiently re-use a common element to quickly accommodate client changes, pan around large composites of multiple layers, and solve render order issues.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Chris Meyer: We've demonstrated earlier in this lesson how nice it was to be able to build a hierarchy of compositions, navigate through it back to earlier comps, and make changes, such as changing cities to say locations. I press Enter, tap Shift, navigate back up my hierarchy to Locations Main, and now that one change I made earlier in my chain has rippled all the way through it to the end of my chain. In addition to this live behavior of precomps or where changer to them ripple throughout your whole hierarchy, there's another After Effects referred to as Edit This, Look at That.
The ability to edit a parameter in a precomp while viewing a different comp later in the chain. There's a few different ways to take advantage of it. Let me show them to you. I am going to go back to my Selection tool and let's say that I want to change the color of these plates to better harmonize with the map behind. Well, normally if I instruct MyPlate, I've lost my map. If I go ahead and press F3 to open the Effects Control panel and still I don't see the map. Click on Locations Main and that layer has disappeared from the Effect Controls.
See normally Effect Controls only reflects the currently selected layer in the current composition. What I want to do is go back to that earlier composition and have the Effects Control open for the layer I want to add it and click on this little lock icon that's near the top of the Effects Control panel. By doing so it will now stay in this frame and not be swapped out when I change compositions. Now when I change to Locations Main, you'll notice I can still see my effects for that plate.
This case happened to use the old Ramp effect to colorize these. I'll go ahead and use the eyedropper. Even select a color from this later composition. Maybe this tone of orange and automatically that change ripples through all my layers. I make this a little bit darker. Maybe something down in this region. One gotcha with Edit This, Look at That is that updates are not interactive. You need to actually okay your changes or otherwise release your mouse bottom for it to ripple through your chain. Still it's a lot easier than jumping back and forth between compositions.
Just remember to turn off that lock icon when you're done with it. There are few other ways to invoke Edit This, Look at That. For example, I an go ahead and lock this composition viewer. This frame will now continue to view this composition but I can go ahead and click on other tabs along the top of the Timeline panel and make changes there, for example turning off new locations and I'll ripple through my whole chain while I'm still looking at the very end of the chain. I'll turn that layer back on. A brand new trick that they introduced in After Effects CS5.5 is that if you have this lock icon enabled for a composition panel, you can take advantage of this composition navigator to directly click on another comp in your chain and will now open up in a second viewer side- by-side with the comp you've locked.
And again, you can go ahead and do things like turn off a layer and it'll ripple through the whole chain. When you're done, turn off lock icon, close any display you don't want and now you're back to normal behavior. So there are few different ways to really maximize the power of a composition hierarchy. Use this lock icon to nail down a particular view, be it an Effect Control or the Composition panel, then change which you're looking at or which you're editing and see the results further down your chain.
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