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If you're at all like me, being creative doesn't always directly translate into being the most organized person. In fact, some of the most talented artists I know have to constantly battle organization on a daily basis. Well I'm here to tell you that if I can become organized, any of you can become organized, especially when it comes to working with Adobe After Effects. Now if you navigate in your Exercise Files folder, under Ch_01, you should see this folder; this 01_10_Project_Template folder.
This is named this just for this individual course. But I wanted to show you how I typically organize folders based on my workflow in motion graphics. Now what you name these individual folders will kind of be customized based on your individual workflow, but I want to show you how I organize things and the theory, why I organize things. So first thing, After Effects by itself references external files.
So while you can create a lot of things within After Effects, like text, and gradients, and shapes, and all kinds of fun new 3D things in CS6, well also you can import your layered Photoshop documents, layered Illustrator files, video files, et cetera. So a lot of times, as you're working through a project, you'll have to pull in these external files, and work with them. Now when you're finished with After Effects, there is a method for archiving to collect everything and put it in one folder.
But I found when I start a project, if I keep things organized, it just makes life a lot easier. So my basic structure, since most of my life is centered around After Effects, the very first folder I'll create is this 01_AE_Projects folder. See, I do this because After Effects is number one for me. Now I will bounce things back and forth between Premiere and After Effects a lot of times because Premiere has amazing editing features. Anytime I have video footage that I work with, I'll put it in the Footage folder.
You could call this video footage as well, especially with digital video files, when you're not shooting on tape, it's really important to have those files organized in a specific folder structure as well. So a lot of times if I know I'm going to use those for a project, I'll drop them into the Footage folder. Now if you have an external drive, I would create a similar structure to where I would save my media cache, and all that other stuff, but if you're only working off one drive, you could create another folder in here just for your cache.
Again, I always recommend saving your cache on a separate drive, but that's neither here nor there. Now this Layered_Files folder is important because this is what I would use to save my layered Photoshop documents and my layered Illustrator files. I tend to save those separately for my flat images; flat images being like still photos that I may have taken with like a digital camera. I save those separately just because the layered files I like to import with all their layers intact. So I'll keep that organized accordingly.
Now, Working_Files is an interesting folder. A lot of times, especially if you're kind of noodling with creative ideas, you may not necessarily want to import those directly into After Effects, you probably just want to create some working files. So you can have that one Photoshop document with 150 layers in it, and know that you're not going to be animating all those layers. So I'd save those in Working_Files. Then when I'm ready to actually import it into After Effects, I would save them into my Layered_Files folder with all the extemporaneous layers deleted.
Now this last folder, Client_Reference, this is really important if you are working with another client or an art director or something like that. If they give you any reference images whatsoever in email, or a lot of times, PDF files, JPEG images if they are like, hey! I want this to look like this; it's important to save that with your project especially if you're doing like a meeting or something and they're going, well, you designed this, but it doesn't really look quite like it. You can go, Oh! Really? Well this is what you sent me, and jump right to that folder.
So, all in all, this is how I like to organize things. I encourage you to create your own folder structure based on your workflow and what you think works best for you. Now, one last tip, if you take this folder, and in the Mac OS, you can right-click and choose Compress to create a zip file, on Windows, you could use something like WinZip. But basically, when you zip that folder, that you could use as your starting point for any new projects. And the nice thing when you zip it, it will uncompress the folder and still keep the original zipped file as well.
So any time I start a new project, I just go to the folder and unzip a new folder, and rename this, whatever it is the project that I'm working on. So for those of you who needed just that little extra push to keep things straight, now hopefully you have a nice little workflow you can use to keep all your After Effects projects organized all nice and tidy.
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