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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.
One of the things that will help you become a lot more proficient in After Effects is being able to navigate your way around the Timeline efficiently. Now, we have already talked about how to zoom into the Timeline. Let's say we have this clip here. It's 28 seconds long, and you probably won't use the clip that's this long in most projects. But it's very feasible you have a composition this long. So, we talked before about how you can drag this slider to zoom in to where the Current Time Indicator is, and that's one way to do it. But we could also click these little mountains here to zoom out and zoom in.
But this is not a good way to do it. I don't like using this method. Again, we could also use the scroll bar and stuff like that. But I prefer to use keyboard shortcuts if possible. For example, I could use the plus key on my keyboard to zoom in to where the Current Time Indicator is. And I could use the minus on my keyboard to zoom out, for example. Probably the best way to zoom in and zoom out is by holding down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC, and if you have a wheel mouse it's just scrolling in with the wheel, and that will actually zoom in to wherever your mouse is.
So, if I have my mouse over the five- second mark and then I zoom in, I am going to zoom into the five-second area, and I could hold the Option/Alt key and then wheel downwards to zoom back out. And I could also likewise, let's say, zoom into the 25-second mark by using again the Alt and Option key and the wheel again. Now, once I am zoomed in very closely here, I can use the Shift key with the scroll wheel mouse to scroll in time. And that's just again a much faster way of zooming around. If you ever get lost, say for example right now I'm not sure where I am in time.
I am kind of disoriented because I zoomed into a different spot, or because I scrolled around. You can press the D on the keyboard, and that will center the Current Time Indicator in your view, so you will be able to see where you are. Now personally for my money, nothing beats those two scroll wheel keyboard shortcut, both Shift and Option or Alt, because that's just the fastest way to get around. But a lot of people like using this Time Navigator up here at the top. This bar indicates where you are in the Timeline. So, about 25% into the entire timeline we are zoomed into here. We also get a red vertical slash indicating where the Current Time Indicator is.
But we can move the Current Time Indicator from there, or we can resize the window by increasing this Time Navigator area, maybe also click and drag on it if we wanted to move let's say the end of our timeline, or to the beginning of our timeline. And again, by clicking and dragging on this we can change our view of what we're looking at. The wider this Time Navigator bar, the more of the timeline we are looking at. So, the farther zoomed out we are and the more specific we are as we make this tinier and smaller. So, there is that. Again, I don't prefer using this method.
It doesn't feel very intuitive to me, but that's just me. It is another way to do that. Now don't let this feel overwhelming. You don't have to learn all of these techniques. Whichever one you like the most, practice with that method, get really good at that, so that you feel very comfortable zipping around the timeline. You shouldn't have to spend time going down here to these tiny little buttons and these little sliders where they are all awkward and backwards trying to maneuver your way about the timeline. Those that are professionals at After Effects, they know how to zip around the timeline, like it's nobody's business.
And so again, it's a good skill to master.
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