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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 perhaps after the last movie your brain started thinking there, and you started thinking, "Well, if I could grab a bunch of layers and group them together into a precomp, could I group a bunch of precomps and keep grouping" those precomps into a precomp and group those precomps into a precomp?" The answer is yes. Until you fry your brain trying to think of all the possibilities, you can get that deep with After Effects, continually grouping and nesting until you have groups of precomps and the whole bit. So, as you start working with After Effects, you'll need to know this cool shortcut and also how to navigate through comps.
When you have a composition selected that has a nested composition, what you could do is just double-click it to open it up. So, you could process the individual layer. So, say, for example, we want to go through and animate these little tire curls coming out at the back of the tire. Let me just double-click that comp to open it back up. If you need to navigate through comps, what you can do is tap the Shift key, and then you could use the arrow keys. See right now we are in a PRECOMP bike girl composition. It's showing here that this is a child, or in other words, a layer inside the Explore California Logo layered composition over here.
That's kind of what we would call the parent comp. So, what I could do is click on this just to jump back to that composition. You can also tap Shift, use the Right arrow key to navigate back to the PRECOMP bike girl comp, here in this little mini flowchart view, and hit the Return or Enter key to jump back to that composition. Now, you might also remember from the last movie that we looked to this example where we had this knight composition with tons of layers, and that was used in that PRECOMPOSED composition. Then we put this PRECOMPOSED composition inside of the castle scene.
So, if we type Shift, we'll see that there is the PRECOMPOSED layer. So, if we want to jump into that, we can type that here. Or if we type Shift here, we can see that we can go to the parent scene, which is the castle scene. Or if we type Shift, we can hit the Right arrow and go to the PRECOMP composition as well. So, if you are get in the habit of using this little keyboard shortcut, it's very handy. So, you hit Shift, go to the right, and you could navigate through compositions without actually having to like open up tabs and do all that jazz.
Likewise, you could use this little dropdown here, right here in the Timeline panel, to get what you are after. You can also go up here to the Composition panel and jump through comps this way. You could use the dropdown to get the little flowchart view, or you could just click on the comp that you want to go to. Again, one of those things that's not super critical until you start having a professional workflow, but it's good to be aware of these features now, so that when you start using precomps effectively, you're ready. You're there. You've got the shortcuts that you need to be efficient.
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