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When you're working in After Effects, it's extraordinarily important to understand how magnification and quality settings affect how you're viewing your image. I was in a situation where I had a client come into my room and look at a graphic and say, omigosh, is that really that jagged? And I said no, and a few keyboard shortcuts later, they were totally relaxed. But, when you're working in After Effects, sometimes you don't have the optimum situation of a huge screen. For example, if we look in the center of our comp panel, I have these jagged edges on my text. Now when I render this out, the edges of the text are going to look beautiful. But, if as you're working, you want to check how that looks, you want to change the magnification.
Now there are a couple ways you can do this in the composition panel. One is by using, I call them the alligator keys, but really, it's the Comma key and the Period key, just right next to the letter M. So if I hit period, it'll zoom in to 100%, and notice my resolution also changed up to 100%. This automatically updates and changes with the magnification setting, as long as you have it set to Auto. So I'm going to click on Full and make sure I'm on Auto. Now, even though the edges of this layer look extraordinarily sharp, sometimes you want to preview the actual alpha channel of the one individual layer.
Now, instead of doing that in a comp window, which I could do by using the solo button and changing some of the switches, I'm just going to double-click on layer two, and load it into my Layer panel. And if you look into the lower left corner, you'll see this little running man icon and if we click on the leftmost icon, it'll toggle the Alpha channel on or off. Now, you can also use a keyboard command to switch between the different views. It's Option on the Mac or Alt on the PC and 4, will show your Alpha channel. You could use 3, 2, or 1 to switch between the red, the green, and the blue. And notice as I'm switching, I get this really nice blue outline, letting me know exactly what channel I'm looking at.
So using the layer panel comes in extraordinarily handy when you're trying to view things. But if you notice, I can't see the full size of my word. So what I'm going to do is press the Tilde key in the upper left corner of the keyboard. It's just under the Escape key. When you press that, it'll go ahead and maximize whatever panel you currently have active, so you can take up as much real estate as you like on your computer. Now, I'm going to press the Tilde key one more time, and just jump back into my composition panel.
In my comp panel here, I could also press the Tilde key to preview this. Now, what if I wanted to preview this entire animation like as it's playing? Well, I could use my Ram preview. In order to do that, while we're at full screen, we need to use a keyboard shortcut. So I'm going to press 0 on my keypad. If you're on a laptop, you could press Control+0. Now, once it's loaded and Ram, it'll go ahead and playback in real time. (INAUDIBLE) press the Spacebar to stop playback. If you want to step through frame by frame, you can use the Page Up and Page Down keys.
Notice as I'm moving Page Up and Page Down, I can clearly see the highlight that's moving through my Text layers. Now, let's press the Tilde key again just to jump back into the composition panel. Now, what if I want to change the magnification of this view so I can see the entire comp again? Sure, I could go ahead and click on the Magnification button and switch it back to fit up to 100. But there's a keyboard shortcut for that. It's Option on the Mac, Alt on Windows, and then the Forward Slash key, which is, kind of, the Question Mark key. That'll automatically switch your view to fit in whatever size of the interface. Notice as I resize my comp panel, it's automatically resizing the view of my graphic.
Now, in the Comp panel, you'd think we were finished with the magnification and resolution settings, but there's one other setting you need to be aware of, and it's this button over here in the lower right corner of the comp settings. If I go ahead and click and hold, you can see it's set to Adaptive Resolution. And what that means, as I work inside of After Effects, it will lower the resolution as I'm working to keep playback going as fast as possible. But, again, it lowers the resolution. So, if you're really trying to pay attention to what's going on you want to turn off Adaptive Resolution and change it to final quality. When you do final quality and then switch your magnification back up to 100%, you can preview your comp and make sure that everything looks all sharp and clean, till the cows come home.
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