Creating a Project
Now that you have an overview of the After Effects interface, let’s explore the production process by building a small project. This project utilizes all elements of the Production Premium suite. You won’t necessarily need every one of these programs for each project, but it is useful to know how to import all the file types that After Effects supports.
- If it’s not running already, launch Adobe After Effects.
- Choose File > New > New Project.
- Choose File > Save As.
- Navigate to the Chapter_01 Project Files folder and name the file 01_Bumper.aep.
- Click Save to write the project file to disk.
In After Effects, the first step to creating animation is to make a composition. Creating a new composition is important because it defines the duration and technical specifications for the project. Knowing which settings to use can be difficult, but After Effects offers several presets to make composition creation easy.
- Choose Composition > New Composition.
- In the Composition Settings dialog, click the Preset list and choose HDV/HDTV 720 29.97. After Effects automatically enters the correct Width, Height, Pixel Aspect Ratio, and Frame Rate for the video format. Enter a Duration of 20;00. Enter the name Bumper in the Composition Name field.
- Click OK to create a new composition.
Using Folders to Organize
The best way to organize files in the Project panel is with folders. Folders created within After Effects only exist in the Project panel. Footage on your hard drive is not moved or renamed by default. Let’s create a new folder to help organize this project.
- Click the folder icon at the bottom of the Project panel. A new empty folder called Untitled 1 is added and ready to be named.
- Name the folder Pre-comps and press Return (Enter). The folder is named.
If you’ve organized media on your hard drive, you can import an entire folder of assets at one time. This makes it easy to translate organized files into an organized project.
- Choose File > Import > File. In the Import File dialog, navigate to the Chapter_01 Project Files folder and open it. Double-click the Sources folder to open it. Then click the Import Folder button at the bottom of the panel. A new folder called Sources is added to the Project panel.
- Click the disclosure triangle next to the Sources folder to reveal its contents. After Effects imports five subfolders and their respective contents of footage and graphics. Then click the disclosure triangle next to the Illustrator Files folder. The folder contains three files, two of which need adjustment.
- Select the logo.ai file and press the Delete key because you don’t need this graphic. The file is removed from the project (but still exists on your hard drive).
- The file logo start.ai also needs to be removed, not because it’s unneeded, but because it was imported as a flattened file. Press the Delete key to remove the file.
- Choose File > Import > File. Navigate to the Chapter_01 Project Files folder and open it. Open the nested folder Sources. Open the nested folder Illustrator Files.
- Select the file logo start.ai. Set the Import As menu to Composition. Click Open. A new composition and a folder with several layers is imported into the project.
- Drag the new composition and folder into the Illustrator Files folder in the Project panel. Choose File > Save to capture the current state of the project.