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Users who come from an editing background, who are used to using nonlinear editing programs, are probably used to the idea of having a separate source viewer for your source material, for your layers, and trimming your In and Out points in that source viewer. Well, you can do the same thing in After Effects. It's called the Layer panel. All you need to do is double-click a layer to open it in its Layer panel. Once you do that, you see two time indicators: the external Current Time Indicator, the time relative to the entire composition, and the internal Time Indicator, the time relative to the source material in this layer.
If that layer starts later than the start of the composition, these two will appear to be out of sync. But it's important to remember this is internal to the layer source. This is external and applies globally to the entire composition. As you drag one, you'll see the other update. As I move before, the trimmed In point of the layer, you'll see it goes before the trimmed In point inside the Layer panel. There is a major difference between trimming In and Out points in the Layer panel and trimming them in the Timeline panel. I switch back to the composition viewer briefly for a moment.
When I trim a layer in the Timeline panel, its timing relative to the composition does not move. There's the Current Time Indicator here. I drag its In point. It does not change what frame is being displayed at this point in time. However, in the Layer panel, any edits I make to a layer here changes what frames are displayed when in the overall composition. Watch what happens to this layer bar and the In and Out relative to the Timeline as I edit in the Layer panel.
As I start to trim it, you'll see that the whole layer is sliding inside the composition. In other words, by trimming in the Layer panel, not only I am trimming the layer's internal In and Out points. I'm changing what frame that source is going to be shown at given point in time inside the Timeline. Another way of doing this is if I go ahead and move to particular time I like, which is this touchdown. Click on the Set IN Point in the Layer panel. This will slide the layer bar in the overall composition, so that the layer starts at the same time in the comp.
But what frame this is going to be displayed at that time is now different. It's the time I have trimmed inside the Layer panel. So there are two different mindsets basically. If you know you want these layers' content to appear at a given time in your overall composition, you can go ahead and edit in the Layer panel-- Let me go and get the second balance right there. And say that's the beginning of the material I want to appear in my composition. It will just change what source is shown in that given point in time. On the other hand, if I say look, I am going to slide this layer bar around later, but I really want to change what source I am seeing, you can go ahead and look at these front wheels.
Trim the layer bar in the Timeline panel. This you can get by holding Option or Alt, left square bracket, and trim the layer to start there. So the Timeline panel and the Layer panel provide two different approaches to how you trim your source for a layer.
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