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What does it mean to import a comp? Well I know you might be thinking that doesn't sound right because comps are created from inside of After Effects, right? Well actually, you can create comps as a part of the import process. And when you work with compositions, you'll undoubtedly want to add some footage. After Effects does a pretty good job of guessing the proper settings for each piece of footage imported, but sometimes you'll want or need to change those as well. So let's get started by importing an Illustrator file. One of the great things about After Effects is the fact that it integrates so well with other application files in the Creative Suite, like Photoshop and Illustrator.
So if you go up under File and go down to Import, we can go to File. Now navigate through your browser. I'll navigate to my Footage folder in my Exercise Files folder, in there I have a folder for Illustrator. So if we navigate in there, select the kineteco_02 Illustrator file. Now at the bottom, see where this pops -up and it says Enable All Acceptable Files, leave that at its default. But down here where it says Import As Footage, what we want to do is import as Composition - Retain Layer Sizes.
Now, we'll cover the Retain Layer Size setting in the next video. When you select Open, now you notice we've actually created a comp, and that comp is based on the Illustrator file that we imported. If we double-click this comp, I want you to check out something. First thing, it's only two frames long. Well that's definitely not right. So I'm going to look at what happened here and you'll notice I have this funny icon that looks like little things stacked on top of each other.
And that's because you can actually import still images as image sequences. So I'm going to press Command+Z to undo that import and go back up under File and choose Import > File. Navigate through your folders to your Illustrator folder and choose kineteco_02, choose Import As Composition - Retain Layer Sizes, but deselect this Illustrator/PDF/EPS Sequence. Now when we import this, it's going to import properly at 10 seconds duration and the 24 frame, frame rate we've been using up to this point.
So if we double-click our composition, you can see all of the layers from the Illustrator document have imported and they are in our composition. Now the beautiful thing about this, it maintained the transparency of the Illustrator document. So if you want to see the transparency in the bottom of your Comp panel, go ahead and click this button right here that looks like a checkerboard. If you click on that, that will allow you to see the transparency. So you remember when we're creating comps, you could change the background color. This might be one of those instances where you want to have a slightly different background color.
I personally like working on black, so I'm just going to leave that alone. While we imported this file as a composition, I do want to go ahead and import some video for the background, right? So let's import the video. Instead of going up to File and Import, just double-click anywhere in this section of the Project panel. When I double-click, it will open up the Import File dialog window and we can navigate back to our Footage folder, and under Video, let's open that up and choose the Solar_panels_CU movie.
Notice it's been correctly identified as a QuickTime, and we will import this as Footage. What's interesting is you can import as an entirely different project, but let's just leave it for Footage for now. So when we click Open, notice now the video file has been imported into my After Effects project. So if we want to use this as background video for our project we can do a couple of different things. First thing, if you double-click a video file, notice how it opens up in its own layer window in the comp window.
This is kind of cool because we can preview our video just by pressing the Spacebar. And in the upper right corner of the Info window, you want to watch and see exactly how fast it's playing back. So you can see in this example, it's only playing back--well now it's up to real-time, but you see it kind of bounces back and forth. So if you press the Spacebar and stop playback, notice our current time indicator has moved. If you click this little button that looks like a left bracket in the bottom of the comp window, that will automatically trim the start point of that video to start where your current-time indicator is.
Now we can press the Spacebar again to select more of the video time or I could stop playback and click this little button down here and choose a specific time. Now if I'm not sure exactly what time I want to choose but I know I want to add, let's say, another four seconds to this, I could type +400 and when I click OK, it will move four seconds down the timeline. So now, if I click on this Outpoint button, I've now trimmed this before I've ever added it to my project.
This is a really, really helpful feature when you're trying to integrate video into smaller-linked projects because if you look up in the Project panel, you can see this clip is over a minute, but our comp is only 10 seconds. So now, if I want to add this to my comp, since my current-time indicator is already at zero seconds, I can just drop it in right on top of all the other ones as another layer by clicking this button on the right. Now you can see my video clip has been added to my composition on the topmost layer, and you can see at its outpoint it disappears.
Now obviously, I can extend this outpoint by clicking on the right-hand side and dragging to the end of the comp, and I can use the layer hierarchy by moving it back to the bottom of my Composition window. Now there's one more thing I want to show you about importing video footage and that has to do with how the footage is being interpreted. Now occasionally, you may notice that your video is not playing back exactly properly. Well that's because sometimes After Effects will interpret the video as something that it's not.
Like it might choose the wrong frame rate or an improper field order. So to change that, with your footage selected, just go ahead and Ctrl+Click on the Mac, or right-click and go to Interpret Footage > Main. In here, I have options that I could change. Say, for example, I wanted to play this back at, I don't know, 12 frames a second. I could tell it conform to this frame rate. And it will give me a warning about my audio, but since I'm not worried about audio I don't have to worry about that right now.
You can also do interesting things like use the Start Timecode from the footage. And here under Fields and Pulldown, this is where you can choose whether it's Lower Field First or Upper Field First. Now this really only pertains to interlaced video footage. Down at the bottom here, if the Pixel Aspect Ratio is off, this is where you can change that. I'm going to accept these changes by just pressing Enter on my keypad. Now had I changed the frame rate or something else, it would be listed up here in the Project panel.
So now that we've imported a layered Illustrator file as a composition and added some footage, in the next video we are going to jump into another option that I use quite often, which will allow us to kind of bounce back and forth and change that piece of footage in its own external source, while still allowing it to update back inside of After Effects.
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