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2.2 Main Panels

In this lesson, you will learn about three of the main panels you will be using all the time. They contain some of the most important After Effects tools.

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2.2 Main Panels

In this lesson you're gonna look at three panels that you are going to be accessing all of the time in more detail. So I wanna give you a quick run down of what the Project panel, the Composition panel and the Timeline panel are used for. So let's start with the Project panel. This is kind of your home base for all your projects. This is where you're going to import footage, and hopefully, organize your footage. It's where you're going to make compositions, and keep everything organized. If you are following along and you have this Lesson_Start.aep file open, you're gonna see pretty much the same folder structure that I have here. And in these folders, I have some various assets. You can see in the Audio folder, I have a wav file. In my Footage folder, I have some .mov files, which are video files. Your project is not going to have these assets, because you're going to have to download these from Envato Elements. But you're still gonna see the same folder structure, so you should be able to follow along. And the general idea here is to put stuff in folders that makes sense to you. Because if you have a project and you just have a list of assets, it can be very, very difficult to find the thing that you're looking for. Now there is a search right up here, which is super handy. But once you get a ton of assets in your project, it can be hard to know what every clip is named. Especially if you're working with clips from a camera that are named just a jumble of numbers and letters. That's not really helpful. But if you have them organized in a footage folder, you're gonna be much better off. Now, let's talk about how to import your footage into a project. And you can do this in a number of ways, I wanna go through it really quickly. To start, let's come up here to File > Import > Import File. If you count that there was a keyboard shortcut which is Ctrl+I, make sense? Similar to some other applications. This will bring up the Import file window and you can select your files. Now, you'll notice down here, we have some options, depending on the type of file or how many assets you are importing. For example, if you open up a bunch of photos, you'll have some different options on how that can be imported. But for right now, you might just select a media file and then choose import. And you can see, here is my file right here. If you want your assets to be imported into a particular folder, that's no problem at all. Just select the folder, then go to Import, I just used the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+I, select your item, choose Import, and now, that was put right in this footage folder and that can be really handy. You can also just double-click in a blank space here in the Project panel. That'll bring up the Import File window. You can right-click here, choose Import File. And you can open up in Explore window, or Finder window in the Mac, and just drug your assets right into the Project panel here. Or you can drag them into your Composition panel, or the Timeline panel, and they will be imported into your project. You see right there, I dragged right into my timeline panel and it was added to my project up here. If you make some room here in the project panel you will see there are some columns. If you click on the columns you can sort your folders or your media items by different attributes. I like to have them sorted by name and here's a pro tip, I like to put the really important things, or the main things in a folder with underscore as the first character. Because that will ensure if I sort these by name that it remains on top. And that's really helpful for me. There's more to the Project panel. But for now, let's jump over to the Composition panel. The Composition panel is what's called a viewer. A viewer is a panel that can contain multiple compositions, layers or footage items with multiple views of such items. There's a few different types of viewers in After Effects, there's the composition viewer, there is a layer viewer, there's a footage viewer, there's a flow chart viewer and the effects controls panel, which is right here, is also a viewer. And a viewer let's you view stuff. When you are building your compositions, you can have multiple layers, if I open up my main comps, and I double click on my AE generated assets composition here, you can see that, whoa, I'll back the applause for just a second, I know this is pretty awesome looking. But in this composition I have multiple layers of different types. I have solids and texts and placeholders and shape layers and nulls. These are all after effects generated assets. But in the viewer I can see all of them. And that's the basic idea. As you're working on a project down here in the timeline panel, you can see what's going on. You can view your animations in your project. Now, the composition panel and every other panel has panel specific menu items which you can access if you right click in here, there are some composition specific options. And you have the same thing up here in the little fly out hamburger menu. There are panels specific menu items available in every panel. In the composition panel there are also a collection of buttons down at the bottom here. If you hover over these, it'll tell you what these do. And you're gonna see some of the most useful buttons here used in some up coming lessons. All right, now, let's jump down to the timeline panel. Timeline panel is very similar to a sequence panel, if you've ever used a video editing application. This is where you assemble your project. You pull down your audio and your footage and whatever you need to make your video to make your After Effects project, you put down here in your timeline panel. Basically, it's where you put all of your stuff and you can trim the in and the out points. And you can animate various aspects of your layers to create exactly what you wanna see. Whatever in you put in your timeline panel here shows up in your comp viewer. And in fact this the timeline for the composition called Starter Comp. If I double click another one of this compositions, like this one that says LOUVRE, this will open another timeline panel or this composition right here. Inside the timeline panel, there are a ton of buttons and switches. We have a collection of buttons up here and we can move the CTI right here, which is the Current Time Indicator. You can trim the in and the out points of your layers. You can animate all kinds of keyframes here. You can take this work area here, and you can make it smaller so that when you play or you preview part of your composition, it will just loop on that section. Lots of different things here. But I don't wanna go into all of them right now, because it can be super overwhelming. One thing that I do wanna show you are the panes that can be expanded and collapsed that reveal different buttons and switches and toggles. And these three buttons down here will show you those panes. So if you hover over this one, it'll tell you that this is the Layer Switch pane. And let's just take a look at that. And the layer switch pane is this collection of switches right here. Second one is the Transfer Controls pane, which is this section right here. And the third one is this In, Out Duration and Stretch pane right here. Now, that may be a little bit confusing right now, but when you see them used it's going to make sense. And the reason why I'm talking about that now is because as I mentioned in the previous lesson, real estate in after effects is a premium. And you can see, if I make all of these paints visible, it shrinks my area over here, my timeline, and it makes it much more difficult to work on things. Because even on a 1080 screen here, it's just not enough space for me to stretch my legs and make something really cool looking. So a lot of the time, I leave this pane collapsed, and I never use it. I don't ever go into that pane at all. As for these other two panes, I usually just leave one visible. And there's a keyboard shortcut to toggle back and forth between the switch pane and the transfer controls pane, which is F4. So doing that is kind of a good compromise between having the switches and controls available and having enough timeline here to be able to work. Now, that's a good place to stop for now. Like I mentioned with these other panels, you're gonna see some different aspects of these panels being used, and you're gonna find out more information about them as we move throughout the course. And you're gonna see them used more in context, which makes a lot more sense. Once you see something that's use makes some much stronger connection in your brain rather than me running through every single option now. So for now, let's jump onto the next lesson where you gonna learn about the some of the settings in After Effects. So check that out, coming up next.

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