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Mastering Timeline navigation

From: After Effects CS5 Essential Training

Video: Mastering Timeline navigation

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.

Mastering Timeline navigation

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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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS5 Essential Training
After Effects CS5 Essential Training

111 video lessons · 67493 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
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  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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