After Effects Apprentice 08: Nesting and Precomposing

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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After Effects Apprentice 08: Nesting and Precomposing
Video duration: 0s 2h 25m Intermediate Updated Nov 29, 2012


Let Chris and Trish Meyer share with you two of the core secrets required to become an efficient After Effects user: understanding the render order (the internal order of operations After Effects uses when calculating masks, effects, transformation, track mattes, and layer styles) and the use of multiple compositions where a composition may be nested into one or more other comps. This makes it easier to group layers, efficiently re-use a common element to quickly accommodate client changes, pan around large composites of multiple layers, and solve render order issues.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Grouping layers by nesting and pre-composing
  • Identifying and solving render order issues
  • Navigating composition hierarchies
  • Editing a precomp while viewing the result in another composition
  • Preserving the frame rate of a nested composition
After Effects


- Hi, I'm Chris Meyer of Crish Design, and welcome to the After Effects Apprentice lesson on nesting and precomposing. One of the strengths of After Effects is you don't have to do everything in one composition or in one timeline. You can go ahead and create an element in one composition, drag that comp into a second composition. It'll be treated just as if it was a single footage item. You don't have to manage all those layers individually in the final comp. There's lots of uses for this. For example, you can create a small element or a small bug in one comp and reuse it in multiple compositions throughout the chain.

Or, you can create a much larger composition, say a map or a very wide panorama, and pan around that composition inside a second comp. Trish will then show you how to precompose. We select one or more layer in the current composition, then send it back up the chain to a precomp, a previous composition that's nested in the one you're currently working in. This is really handy when you need to group layers, perhaps for applying an effect, or to rewire the rendering order inside After Effects to get it to do something different than it normally would do. Then at the end we'll show you an Idea Corner of how to finish off one of the comps we were working on, challenge you with a few Quizzlers to see what you've learned, and also give you a few sidebar movies related to nesting and precomposing, including how to navigate a hierarchy of compositions.

This is where you start to really become an expert After Effects user, where you get the idea of setting up a hierarchy of comps that will make your life much easier when it comes time to animate or accommodate client changes. So let's dive in and have some fun.

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