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Using common elements

From: After Effects Apprentice 08: Nesting and Precomposing

Video: Using common elements

Chris Meyer: If you have access to the exercise files that came with this project, open up the comp AEA_Nesting_2-Common. If instead you're working out of our book After Effects Apprentice, 2nd Edition we're in Lesson 6. Open up the comp 06c-Nesting2.aep. Select this, click Open, and like with the previous chapter we're going to open up the Finished Movie folder, then watch a movie the result we are trying to attain. Here you see we have a simple move on a map that is larger in our original composition and three plates with different cities on them are popping up over time.

Using common elements

Chris Meyer: If you have access to the exercise files that came with this project, open up the comp AEA_Nesting_2-Common. If instead you're working out of our book After Effects Apprentice, 2nd Edition we're in Lesson 6. Open up the comp 06c-Nesting2.aep. Select this, click Open, and like with the previous chapter we're going to open up the Finished Movie folder, then watch a movie the result we are trying to attain. Here you see we have a simple move on a map that is larger in our original composition and three plates with different cities on them are popping up over time.

Notice that those backing plates are identical for each of the cities. Whenever you have a common design element that you will be using repeatedly inside a project, it's a great idea if you can create just one of them and then point back to that one original rather than recreate it from scratch every single time you need another one. That way if you needed to make a change that basic template element, you just need to change it once instead of every time that you've used it. In this exercise file we've given you that basic element. Inside the Comps folder is a composition called MyPlate.

The background element uses shape layers, which is the subject we'll cover in another After Effects Apprentice lesson and it has some simple basic text, NEW LOCATION, on top. I left myself a note that it uses the Myriad Pro font. That's good to know, because I probably want to key off of that for any additional text I needed to make. Now I would like to add a city name on top of that plate. I do not want to do it in this composition, on top of my one and only master plate. Instead I would take MyPlate, drag it down to the make a new composition button, and nest it into a brand-new comp.

That way the original plate is left unmolested, but I can add elements to it in this second composition. I am going to type Command+K on Mac, Ctrl+K on Windows, to open up the project settings and change the name to something that makes sense like City 1. Otherwise, it's inherited the same size, frame rate, and duration as that original template composition. Click OK and now I want to add the text of my first city on top of this precomp of that master plate. I am going to change my workspace to Text.

If you do not see the Character and Paragraph panels appear, go ahead and select Reset Text to make sure you are back to this default workspace. I have a couple of choices for how I layout this text. For example, if I want the text to always be right justified along the edge of the plate, I can go ahead and choose right align in the Paragraph panel. Select my Text tool, place my cursor, and start typing my first city such as Denver and I'll press Enter to accept that. It's not a quite the right font.

So I am going to go ahead and change it from Minion Pro to a Myriad Pro to match the location. And I can pick weight. For example, I might pick Bold to make it stand out a little bit better or even black to make it heavier. Speaking of black I'll also change the master color to black to make them more visible. And finally I might pump the point size a little bit to 36 say. If I don't like this right justified look, I can also just change it to say centered text. I'll press V to return to my Section tool and then center the text more or less inside this composition.

I am going to press the Apostrophe key to briefly bring up my action title say to see where the center of my composition is or I can just press P for position and check it numerically as well. Now that I've created to one of my city plates based off a master background plate, I can create additional city comps quite easily by duplicating this comp and editing the text. But before that I want to make sure I am happy with this text. For example, now that I look at this, I see that the e's look a bit funny in the city Denver. So let's try some variations on this font.

And if I go back down to the just a bold weight. There we go! The text opens up and I find that will be more readable particular if I scale it down. Additionally, I think I am going to go ahead and kern this little bit, just to make this one city look a little bit better. There we go! Now that I'm happy with one of the cities, I am going to select it inside my Comps folder and duplicate it twice more to create two more cities. Note that whenever you have an element such as a composition that ends in a number, when you duplicate it After Effects will automatically increment that number at the end.

So now I have city 2 and city 3. I'll open up city 2, double-click the word Denver, and enter some different text like Dallas. Enter. Double-click city 3 to open it up, double-click Denver to edit it, and enter a different city name like Chicago. Enter. So I have one master background plate that's being reused in three different instances of city names. And just to emphasize this is live, let's say I turned off this text for new location.

You'll notice that phrase now disappears from all these other comps. I go back to MyPlate, turn it back on again, and now it reappears. Hopefully, you are already starting to think this might make life a lot easier later on and I'll show that in a couple of movies.

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