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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.
Now we ready need to take a closer look and see how After Effects projects work. We know a little bit about the Project panel, so I don't want to rehash that, but we do need to talk about projects. First of all, step one File > Save. Beware of saving your project. This is absolutely critical. It goes without saying, but make sure that you save often. After Effects crashes. It crashes all the time. So, more than like regular programs like Microsoft Word or something like that, that might feel a little bit more stable, even more than like Photoshop or something, After Effects crashes very frequently. And there are tons of things that can make it crash.
So, always save your work. As a matter of fact, what you could do is go under the Preferences and set up Auto Save, which I recommend doing as well. Now when you create an After Effects project, and you bring things into the project like you import objects, you import video or whatever like we have here, - I've got tons of video and images and audio files, even - these are not actually embedded in the project file. So, what you are doing when you import files in the After Effects is only importing a link to the source file on your hard drive.
Now if you have never worked in Video before, this is kind of insane. But if you work in Video, this is how video programs work. Because let's say you had a video file that was 2GB in size. If you imported that in your project and embedded that into your project, well now your project file is 2GB, and the file on your hard drive is still 2GB. So, now you have a total 4GB. You could imagine having multiple projects and having tons of video. That would just fill up your hard drive a lot. And because it's not being embedded, you could bring in tons of different footage elements.
You can bring in tons of different audio clips to try out and test, tons of different stock images, stock video, just to kind of playing around with it and see how you like things. And it doesn't really change anything as far as the size of the project is concerned. So, that's the benefit. The down side is that you have to be aware of where that file is that is being it linked to. So, let's say we are linking right now to this PRECOMP left banner.mov file. We need to be aware of that link. We cannot move this file. We cannot rename this file. We cannot delete this file or when we open up After Effects to work on this project again, it's going to say, "Hey! You know what? We can't find the where this file is." If that ever does happen to you, you can just right-click on at the file or the placeholder that will be there and select Replace Footage and then choose File.
Now over here in the Project panel, I want to mention, again, this idea about organizing the Project panel. Because you could bring in so many assets, you just have an infinite supply of assets, and it doesn't really affect your hard drive very much, it's oftentimes better to import more than you need because then if it's there and you need it, and it doesn't really hurt anything. But as a result, you need to keep your project panel organized and again, you could do that by clicking this little folder icon here, which will make a new folder, and you can title it whatever you want. Then we can just drag and drop elements into that folder.
We can even drag and drop other folders into other folders. So, just remember that. Again, it's not anything that you are probably too concerned about, being a new After Effects user, but you'll definitely you want to get some good organization skills. Finally, I want to talk about the difference between importing and opening a project. If we go to the File menu here, we can see that there is an Import flyout menu, and then there's also an Open Project. So, there's opening and importing. See, those are two different things in After Effects language.
When you import something, it's when you bring an asset into the Project panel to use in your project. When you open a project it opens a complete different project, and you can only have one project open at a time. As a matter of fact, if I were to choose File > Open Project right now, the first thing that After Effects would say is, "Do you want to save changes to this After Effects project before closing it," because it's going to have to close it in order to open up a new one. Now, if there were some elements of an old After Effects project that you liked and you wanted to bring that into your current project, then you could actually import an old After Effects project.
So, if I double-click in the Project panel to open up the Import File dialog box and I go to the Enable dropdown, you can see that there are just loads of different footage and file types that we can bring in and among them is the After Effects Project. We could bring that in. It would create a folder for you with all of the comps and all of the footage elements from the other After Effects project that you've just imported. So, we've talked about projects, and now in the next movie, we are going to get to Compositions.
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