Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Now in order to get a fresh start, on how to understand compositions, we're just going to start with a blank project here. And I'm going to take you through a couple different ways, we can create compositions inside of After Effects. Now, the first way is rather simple, all you have to do is go up under composition, and choose new composition. In the composition settings dialog box, click on the preset pull-down, and you'll notice we have a whole bunch of resolutions that we could choose with different presets. The one I want you to choose is this HDV/HDTV 720 2997.
Now, the next set of options here allow you to go ahead and change whatever this presets are. So, if I wanted to keep working at 16 by 9, but I wanted to say have width of 1600, I could do that. It will automatically change what I had import as long as I have aspect ratio selected. I'm going to press escape since I don't want to do that. Let's go back up under composition, new composition, HDTV 7282997. Now pixel aspect ratio is set to square which is perfect, the frame rate, you can leave it at 2997, or click on the pull down, I'm just going to choose this 23976 just so we have less frames to work with.
The resolution setting is kind of interesting. Resolution is just the resolution that After Effects will work at, as you're building something. So, you can work at a lower resolution if you're building something that's extraordinarily complex. Now start time code is rather interesting. When you import QuickTime files, if they have time code embedded. Whenever you create a composition based on that time file it'll automatically choose that start time code for the composition. Now you can specify your own start time code if you choose.
Now the duration default is whatever duration you had set up the last time you created a composition. Now the last composition I had created. Was based off of the duration of a clip that was rather long. So, here I'm going to go ahead and highlight this field and change the duration to ten seconds just by typing 1,000 here. Over here you can see ten seconds. Background Color we can leave set to black and just click OK. Now anytime you've created a composition, it automatically opens the Layers panel and the Comp panel.
Now let's go ahead and rename our composition, just so we're familiar with how to do that. When you select any object in the project panel, you can then pres Return on your keyboard and then rename. So let's go ahead and call this simple comp. And then go ahead and press Return whenever you're ready to set that as your comp title. Now, in order to see anything in this composition, we need to actually create some elements. So, I'm going to go to my tool pallet here, and use some of these create tools. Let's start by just clicking this box, or the rectangle tool.
If you click and hold, you can see a bunch of different options you could create. I just want to use the rectangle tool. So I'll choose that. And then just click and draw a box around the lower region of your project. Now obviously you can choose what ever size or setting you want to use for your graphic. I'm just drawing roughly this size towards the lower third of the area. Notice when I go to create this shape I have options to change for that shape. Now I'm not going to mess with this specific graphic for any extended period of time.
I just want you to understand when you set up a composition. You have composition panel settings that you can set adjustments to. So, for example, right now I have a stroke of two set to this shape, but I can't see that stroke, because of the handles that are on that shape. If you come down to the lower left corner of the composition panel. You'll notice there's this button here, that toggles the mask and shape path visibility off and on. If I turn that off, now you can see that shape and I still have these control handles that would allow me to go ahead and change the size of this shape.
Now just so I don't accidentally create another shape, I'm going to go back up over to my tool pallet. Just grab the selection tool. Now if you toggle visibility of your mask or shape on and off, just make sure to pay attention to what this button setting was set up at. Because if you turn it off and turn it back up again sometimes you can get kind of confused as to what your looking at. So I'm going to turn that back on. Within the composition panel, if I were to change how something is viewed in the composition panel, I need to go to the upper right hand corner for that panel, and go down under my view options.
Let's say I want to get rid of the layer handles. Well, here I can deselect the handles or the layer controls. Now, when I click OK. Notice everything is deselected even though I have my shape selected. So you can actually change the view options, just by clicking up under this pull down. So, I want to make sure to enable everything and then just click OK again. All right, so we learned about the fly out menu in the upper right. We learned about some of the shortcut buttons. Let's look at some of the other shortcut buttons.
This one down here over on the left is your magnification. What this controls is how close or far away you are from the object, or the composition that you're working on. So, let's say, 50% magnification, I can make it fit into a much smaller area. Now, just so we have a perspective as to what we're dealing with, I want to go ahead and import some video footage. So, let's go back to the project panel. And just Double-click. Here in the project panel, navigate in our exercise files folder to your footage folder.
In there I want you to go into the video folder. Once inside the video folder, let's select the Sprint Start mov, and click Open to import it into the project. Now if I want to add this to my composition, I could just drag it and drop it right down into my comp. Now, if I want to view a different part of that video file, I can just click and drag on that file to reposition where it starts in my composition. Now I want you to notice the handles for this layer are outside of my composition view.
If you select the simple comp, its size is 1280 by 720. But if I select my video file, its size is 2048 by 1080. So it's larger. So, if I just click on this layer I can move it around, and actually animate the video within my composition itself. This is one of the reasons that you may want to actually change in the magnification at different points. Now I'm going to switch it back up to 200%. The next button over here, just allows me to move to a specific point in time. This button takes a snapshot.
So if I click, I can see exactly what that snapshot looks like at any given time. So, let's say if I move further down the time line, I want to compare our runner's positions. So let's move down to about four seconds. Let's just see how far he's moved, if I click the next button here, it will show me my snap shot, so I have a reference for that change in the composition. This pull-down will allow me to choose what channel I'm viewing, just like going to the Channels Panel inside of Photoshop. Now, this next pull-down will adjust the resolution along with the magnification.
So, if you have it set to auto, watch what happens. When I change my magnification to 50%. Now my resolution is set to half. I generally recommend that you leave that resolution pull down set to auto. So I'll switch my magnification back to fit up to 100%. Now, a lot of these other options depend on whether you're working in 2D or 3D. So I'm not going to jump into those. I want you to go to this box that looks like, it has a lighting bolt in it. If you click and hold this will allow you to chose different resolutions to work in as you are scrubbing through your project.
So for example, if I had 30 different layers in this project, and they were all 3D layers it would take a very long time to render. So, when I was working, I may want to actually switch it into Wireframe mode. This way I can still see I have two layers, but no matter where I move, everything's going to refresh rather quickly. I can also go into Fast Draft mode, where it doesn't quite render all the effects and things the same way, so it speeds things up. I generally work at adaptive resolution. This way, as I'm scrubbing through, notice the resolution may change.
And if you look in the upper right corner of the composition panel, you can see my adaptive resolution has changed now to one 8th, just so it can kind of keep the refresh moving as I am scrubbing through my timeline. Now we've learned how to create compositions from scratch by going up under composition, new composition. But I could also create a composition based on a video file. So, if I click on that and drag it down to the new comp button, there we go. I've created a brand new composition. And it's set up at 2048 by 1080, based on the settings of my QuickTime file.
Now let's just say for whatever reason we need to change our comp settings. You can always go back and change your comp settings by going up under Composition. And choosing Composition Settings. Whatever project you're currently in, or whichever project you have selected in the Project panel, it'll open that composition's settings. So, here if I want to change my preset for this back to that HDV/HDTV setting, I can. And I'll just go ahead and change my frame rate back to 23976 here, and then just click OK.
And now, just so we can see what that's done, let's change our magnification down to 50%. And sure enough, you can see our layer is larger than our composition. Just like the simple comp that we created earlier. So the last thing I want to tell you about compositions is the fact that you can have multiple compositions in your project. So, notice when we created two compositions, we have multiple compositions. After Effects can important and create numerous compositions inside of your project.
Once you have these comps built, you can go ahead and use these as sources in new comps. So, you can embed comps in other comps, kind of like nesting in your favorite nonlinear editor. So when it comes to compositions. They do have a direct relationship with the layers, but they are separate containers. It's just really important to pay attention to what resolution you're working at, when you're creating your comp settings. As you first get started, I generally recommend creating your compositions based on the video files, that you may be working with as your source footage.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
110 Video lessons · 55188 Viewers
93 Video lessons · 19351 Viewers
79 Video lessons · 17535 Viewers
350 Video lessons · 103252 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.