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Let Chris and Trish Meyer share with you two of the core secrets required to become an efficient After Effects user: understanding the render order (the internal order of operations After Effects uses when calculating masks, effects, transformation, track mattes, and layer styles) and the use of multiple compositions where a composition may be nested into one or more other comps. This makes it easier to group layers, efficiently re-use a common element to quickly accommodate client changes, pan around large composites of multiple layers, and solve render order issues.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Chris Meyer: Your second Quizzler challenge was how to create a nice picture-in-picture hierarchy with the contents of your inset precomp. We may have a lot of things going on, for example, we have effects applied, we have an animation path going on. Maybe we need to center a talking head inside the picture in picture window. What is a nice simple hierarchy to create this? Well, there is more than one solution. But I think the solution we came up with might be something you hadn't thought of. Remember compositions do not need to be the size of your footage. They do not need to be the size of your final render.
They only need to be the size of the element that you need to work with. So in this case, we created a small 200x200 pixel comp, the size of our final inset into our file composition, and used that to go ahead and crop it down whatever we put inside this composition. Now it's very simple for us to apply effects and animate effects, to go ahead and animate the position of this layer. Our only concern is that there's good image area inside this small 200x200 comp. Once we've done that, it's a very simple matter to just nest this whole composition into a final comp and we don't need to do anything special.
We don't need to do any masking. We don't need to animate position. We don't need to apply any effects here except for the drop shadow that we have. All we need to do is to just put it in the position that we want and everything comes along, nice and intact. And that's a good thing to keep in mind in general. Don't think in terms of video size when you are thinking about compositions. Think in terms of element size. Do you have a large map to pan around? Do you have a small picture-in-picture window? Think about creating compositions and precomps that match the size of the elements that you need to be working with it, then bring it all together into a final comp that's going to be the size of your final render.
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