The Composition and Timeline Panels
All compositions can be represented in the Composition and Timeline panels, which open automatically whenever you create or open a composition. These two panels furnish you with different ways of looking at a composition and manipulating its layers. This section gives you an overview of each panel, emphasizing how panels show layers along with their spatial and temporal relationships.
The Composition panel
The Composition—or Comp—panel (Figure 4.13) displays the layers of footage visible at the current frame of a composition. You can use the Comp panel to visually preview the way a composition’s layers are rendered within the visible frame as well as how those layers are placed outside the frame (off-screen, or if you like, in the pasteboard area).
Figure 4.13 The Composition panel.
The Comp panel is equipped with many of the viewing and time controls present in the Footage panel and Layer panel. But because the comp is where footage items become layers, the Comp panel has several unique features. For example, you can move and scale layers and masks directly in the Comp panel, and you can also view information such as layer paths, keyframes, and tangents. You can rest assured that if a button or feature isn’t covered in this chapter, you’ll learn about it later in the book.
The Timeline panel
The Timeline panel (Figure 4.14) graphically represents a composition as layers in a timeline. In the time ruler, a yellow marker—called the current time indicator (CTI)—corresponds to the current frame pictured in the Composition panel. A vertical line extending from the CTI makes it easy to see how layers in the comp are situated in time. In the Timeline panel, each layer occupies a row and the rows are stacked vertically. (Unlike the tracks of many nonlinear editing programs, each row contains only one layer.) Layers that are higher in the Timeline panel’s stacking order appear in front of lower layers when viewed in the Composition panel. The Timeline panel offers more than just an alternative view of the composition; it gives you precise control over virtually every attribute of each layer in a composition.
Figure 4.14 The Timeline panel.