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Previewing your work

You’re probably eager to see the results of your work. After Effects provides several methods for previewing compositions, including standard preview, RAM preview, and manual preview. (For a list of manual preview controls, see After Effects Help.) All three methods are accessible through the Preview panel, which appears on the right side of the application window in the Standard workspace.

Using standard preview

Standard preview (commonly called a spacebar preview) plays the composition from the current-time indicator to the end of the composition. Standard previews usually play more slowly than real time. They are useful when your composition is simple or in its early stages and doesn’t require additional memory for displaying complex animations, effects, 3D layers, cameras, and lights. You’ll use it now to preview the text animation.

  1. In the Bgwtext Timeline panel, make sure that the Video switch (34inline01.jpg) is selected for the layers that you want to preview—the Title Here and Background layers, in this case.
  2. Press the Home key to go to the beginning of the time ruler.
  3. Do one of the following:
  4. To stop the standard preview, do one of the following:
    • Click the Play/Pause button in the Preview panel.
    • Press the spacebar.

Using RAM preview

RAM preview allocates enough RAM to play the preview (with audio) as fast as the system allows, up to the frame rate of the composition. Use RAM preview to play footage in the Timeline, Layer, or Footage panel. The number of frames played depends on the amount of RAM available to the application.

In the Timeline panel, RAM preview plays either the span of time you specify as the work area, or from the beginning of the time ruler. In the Layer and Footage panels, RAM preview plays only untrimmed footage. Before you preview, check which frames are designated as the work area.

You’ll preview the entire composition—the animated text plus graphic effects—using a RAM preview.

  1. Click the Bgwtext 2 tab in the Timeline panel to bring it forward.
  2. Make sure that the Video switch (34inline01.jpg) is turned on for all of the layers in the composition, and press F2 to deselect all layers.
  3. Drag the work area brackets to the time span you want to preview: the work area start bracket should be at 0:00, and the work area end bracket should be at 10:00.
  4. Drag the current-time indicator to the beginning of the time ruler, or press the Home key.
  5. Click the RAM Preview button (ram_preview.jpg) in the Preview panel or choose Composition > Preview > RAM Preview.

    A green progress bar indicates which frames are cached to RAM. When all of the frames in the work area are cached, the RAM preview plays back in real time.

  6. To stop the RAM preview, press the spacebar.

    The more detail and precision you want to see, the more RAM is required for RAM preview. You can control the amount of detail shown in either the standard or RAM preview by changing the resolution, magnification, and preview quality of your composition. You can also limit the number of layers previewed by turning off the Video switch for certain layers, or limit the number of frames previewed by adjusting the composition’s work area.

  7. Choose File > Save to save your project.
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