Join Eran Stern for an in-depth discussion in this video Select by tags, part of After Effects Tips and Techniques: Shortcuts, Navigation, and Project Management.
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- When working inside After Effects, there's a good chance that sooner or later your timeline will get crowded with more than a few layers. It's always a good practice to build a mechanism which can help you to manage and control many layers at once. In this movie I'll show you how to label the layers and select those layers by their color tag. First let's get acquainted with the project that we have. I've already cached those frames, so I'm just going to tap on the zero in order to see what we have over here.
And this is actually a preset that I've built and I'm handing it to you. So if you have access to the project files, you can go ahead and open it. And if there is a need, you can change the title and instead of Green Day say whatever you like. But I think that Green Day is a very happy message. But for now let's just concentrate on the structure here in the timeline and get organized. So I'm just going to press tilde in order to see all the layers that are populating this timeline.
And I'm going to drag down, so 40 layers, a nice round number, some of them are precomped. And I've already took the time and named those layers according to what they are. So we can see that we have six versions of clouds and mountain, trees, balloon. And then we have a couple of clouds over here. Those are shape layers, by the way, which is indicated by the little star and of course the default blue color label. On top of this, there is this Green Day text.
And then there are two composition, the one balloon which is on top of the text and of course the bird that we just saw passing by. And I promise that we'll add some bird friends at a later movie in order to accompany this solo bird. But for now let's just concentrate on the reorganization of this timeline. Since this is a template and I want you to be able to modify it very easily, I may want to modify the default color labels that After Effects has generated.
For that, let's just once again press on the tilde key and let's work our way from the bottom layer upstairs. So we'll start with the background. Now, you have to think if there is a need for the user to change it or not. If there is no real need to see it, what I suggest is actually pressing on the color label and set it to none. This will make it gray, and it will be less distracting when someone else will open this project.
Next, let's select the clouds, and I think that the clouds can stay blue. And we can go to the other groups, so mountain six to mountain one. I'm holding down shift and selecting all of those. And then let's just pick something else. It doesn't really matter which color. It needs to be something that is going to be unique to this group. So I'm just going to say dark green just because it relates to the content. For the trees, once again, I'm going to select the lower one and then hold shift and select layer number 12 which is the last tree over here.
And I'm going to set it to maybe that green color. Then let's go to the balloon comps. And here we have those four balloons and another one. So I'm holding down command on the Mac, control on the PC in order to select different layers in different places. And then let's just go with maybe yellow, which is a very happy color. Now for the circles, let's also include the cloud over here.
So all of those layers are one group which actually we have the same in terms of graphical information. And I'm just going to tag them in the lavender color. I'm going to stick with red for the text because I didn't choose it at the past. The balloon is already there and the birds can stay in its default sandstone color. The camera also has a different color, so it should be very easy to spot.
Okay, now we can return back to the regular interface because now we can very easily select layers even if we don't see the whole timeline. For example, let's say that we want to select all of our mountains. Let's say that we want to enlarge them. So we just need to select one of them and then go to the color tag, hold your mouse, and then choose the first option over here which is select label group. And After Effects will select all the layers that have the same label color.
This means that you can see it in the viewport, the boundary is green, which should help you to see it visually. But also you can press, for example, S, and maybe scale them up just a touch and then press U once again just to collapse them and very easily we've managed to control and modify this comp. Let's do the same for the balloon just in order to prove the point. I'm just going to select one of the layers.
It doesn't matter which one. And then I'm going to select the tag and then select by label group. And this of course will highlight all of the yellow layers, doesn't really matter where they are in the timeline. And of course, you can modify them if there's a need. Once again, I'm just going to demontrate by scaling them maybe just a touch, just to prove my point, it doesn't really matter here. I just want to make sure that the last one will not obstruct the title.
And it seems that this is the case now. Okay, so this is how you divide and conquer in After Effects, and by that metaphor I mean, of course, this is how you use color label in order to organize and manipulate layers in the timeline.
- Using a reference monitor for color testing
- Browsing to import
- Dragging and dropping imports
- Selecting and moving layers
- Rendering regions of interest
- Exposing properties on the Timeline
- Finding missing fonts, footage, and effects
- Collecting files