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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.
Because adding content from the Project panel to your composition - in other words, inside the Time Line panel here - is something you are going to be doing all the time, I want to give you a few more tips on how you can do that more effectively. First of all, if you wanted to add a layer, we are going to add this Hansel and Petal flowers.psd layer to our Time Line. If you want to add this layer quickly and easily, at the top of the layer stack and centered in the Composition panel, in other words in your view, then you can hit Command+Question Mark or Ctrl+Question Mark.
It's actually Command+Forward Slash or Ctrl+Forward Slash, but that's the button with the question mark on it. And that adds it's, again, perfectly centered and at the top of the layer stack. It also makes it so that the layer begins at the first frame. And most of the time, this is how you'll want layers to come in. I am just going to undo that by hitting Command+Z or Ctrl+Z on the PC, but there are many times when you want specify other attributes of the way that your layers are brought into your composition.
So, you may want to put it at a different place. You might want these just at the corners. So, I can just drag these and instead of bringing them down here to the Time Line, I bring them here in my Composition panel, my Viewer. And this outline box, this bounding box gives me a sense of where these will go. So, I may just want them in the corner. So, I'll just go over here and then drag and drop and let go - and well, that's a little bit too much in the corner - but maybe just like that. Now I am just going to undo that by hitting Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. Or maybe I don't really care where they are here. Maybe I care where they are in time.
So, I might want to move in time. And you'll see that as I move along the Time Line with my layer here, as I am moving around, I get kind of like a mock Current Time Indicator telling me where that layer is going to begin. So, if I want it to begin at 4 seconds here, in this case, I'll drag the current time indicator to 4 seconds and let go. And then our layer starts there at 4 seconds. Again, I am going to undo that. We could also control where in the layer stack our layer comes in. So, this thick black horizontal line tells us where that layer will come in.
So, if we want it to under the black solid, which is actually the vignette on the corners, then we can put that in between those layers. And then the vignette would be going over our flowers, darkening the edge or our flowers, which is still hard to see because it's a faint vignette. But that's what's happening here. So, again, a variety of ways to add stuff from the Project panel to your composition. You can add it visually in space. You could add it here in time. You could add it based on the layer stack, or if you just want, again, to bring things in at the top of the layer stack at the first frame and center it in composition, then you can use the keyboard shortcut Command+Forward Slash or Ctrl+Forward Slash or Question Mark.
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