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«PROFESSIONAL USER GUIDE © 2007 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Copyright Adobe® After Effects® CS3 User Guide for Windows® and ...»

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For example, you can create one Composition viewer each for different 3D views (Top, Bottom, Back, Front) so that you can maximize each of the views with the ` (accent grave) keyboard command, which maximizes or restores the panel under the pointer.

To create a custom workspace with multiple viewers, ensure that all viewers are unlocked before you save the workspace.

Locked viewers are associated with a specific project context and are therefore not saved in the preferences file.

• To create a new viewer, choose New from the viewer menu.

• To lock or unlock a viewer, choose Locked from the viewer menu, or click the Toggle Viewer Lock button.

• To lock the current viewer, split the current frame, and create a new viewer of the same type in the new frame, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+N (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+N (Mac OS).

• To cycle forward or backward through the items in the viewer menu list for the active viewer, press Shift+period or Shift+comma.

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Activate a tool The Tools panel can be displayed as a toolbar (as shown here) or as a normal panel.


Tools panel A. Selection B. Hand C. Zoom D. Rotation E. Orbit Camera, Track XY Camera, Track Z Camera F. Pan Behind G. Mask and shape tools H. Pen tools I. Type tools J. Brush K. Clone Stamp L. Eraser M. Puppet tools N. Controls related to active tool Note: Controls related to some tools appear only when the tool is active.

• Click the tool’s button. If the button has a small triangle at its lower-right corner, hold down the mouse button to view the hidden tools. Then, click the tool you want to select.

• Press the tool’s keyboard shortcut. (Positioning the pointer over a tool button displays a tool tip with the tool’s name and keyboard shortcut.)

• To cycle through hidden tools, repeatedly press the tool’s keyboard shortcut.

• To momentarily change from one tool to another tool, hold down the shortcut key for the desired tool; release the shortcut key to return to the previous tool. (This technique does not work with all tools.)

• To view panels most relevant to the active tool, click the panel button if available. For example, clicking this button when a paint tool is active opens the Paint and Brush Tips panels.

See also“Shortcuts for activating tools” on page 640

Tips for working with the After Effects user interface

• Use ClearType text anti-aliasing on Windows. ClearType makes the outlines of system text, such as menus and dialog boxes, easier to read. See Windows Help for information on how to enable ClearType text anti-aliasing.

• To show tool tips, select the Show Tool Tips preference (Edit Preferences General (Windows) or After Effects Preferences General (Mac OS)).

• To assign a keyboard shortcut to the current workspace, choose Window Assign Shortcut To [Workspace Name] Workspace.

• If a frame contains more grouped panels than can be shown at once, drag the slider bar that appears above the tabs.

Slider bar for showing other tabs

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See also “Using and modifying keyboard shortcuts” on page 638 Work with preferences

• To open the Preferences dialog box, choose Edit Preferences [category name] (Windows) or After Effects Preferences [category name] (Mac OS).

• To open the Preferences dialog box to the General category, press Ctrl+Alt+; (semicolon) (Windows) or Command+Option+; (Mac OS).

• To restore default preference settings, hold Ctrl+Alt+Shift (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift while the application is starting. To also restore default keyboard shortcuts, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the OK button.

Preference reference This section provides links to pages in which the various preferences—those that aren’t self-explanatory—are explained.


• Levels Of Undo: “Undo changes” on page 25

• Show Tool Tips: “Tips for working with the After Effects user interface” on page 20

• Create Layers At Composition Start Time: “About layers” on page 133

• Switches Affect Nested Comps: “About nesting and precomposing” on page 113

• Default Spatial Interpolation To Linear: “Controlling change with interpolation” on page 204

• Preserve Constant Vertex Count When Editing Masks: “Designate the first vertex for a Bezier path” on page 325

• Synchronize Time Of All Related Items: “About nesting and precomposing” on page 113

• Expression Pick Whip Writes Compact English: “Add, edit, and remove expressions” on page 549

• Create Split Layers Above Original Layer: “Split a layer” on page 146

• Allow Scripts To Write Files And Access Network: “Work with scripts” on page 45

• Enable JavaScript Debugger: After Effects CS3 Professional Scripting Guide (PDF)

• Use System Color Picker: “Select a color or edit a gradient” on page 236

• Create New Layers At Best Quality: “Layer image quality” on page 150

• Preserve Clipboard Data For Other Applications: “Copy between After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro” on page 65

• Use System Shortcut Keys (Mac OS only): “Tips for working with the After Effects user interface” on page 20 Previews

• Adaptive Resolution Limit: “Preview modes” on page 124

• Enable OpenGL: “Render with OpenGL” on page 593

• Accelerate Effects Using: “Preview modes” on page 124

• Audio Preview Duration: “Preview video and audio” on page 120

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• Disable Thumbnails In Project Panel: “Work with composition thumbnail images” on page 111

• Auto-zoom When Resolution Changes: “Resolution” on page 128

• Show Rendering Progress In Info Panel & Flowchart: “Preview video and audio” on page 120

• Hardware Accelerate Composition, Layer, And Footage Panels: “Improve performance” on page 41 Import

• Still Footage: “Create layers from footage items” on page 135

• Sequence Footage: “Import a single still image or a still-image sequence” on page 81

• Interpret Unlabeled Alpha As: “Specify alpha channel interpretation” on page 52

• Default Drag Import As: “Import footage items” on page 50 Output

• Overflow Volumes, Segment Sequences At, Segment Movie Files At, and Audio Block Duration: “Overflow volumes and segment settings” on page 629 Grids & Guides

• Safe Margins: “Work with safe zones, grids, guides, and rulers” on page 130 Label Colors and Label Defaults

• Label Colors and Label Defaults: “Work with color labels” on page 149 Memory & Cache

• Maximum Memory Usage, Maximum RAM Cache Size, Enable Disk Cache, and Maximum Disk Cache Size:

“Memory & Cache preferences” on page 39

• Conformed Media Cache and Clean Database & Cache: “Work with the media cache” on page 67

• Prevent DLL Address Space Fragmentation (Windows only): “Memory & Cache preferences” on page 39 Video Previews

• Output Device, Output Mode, Output Quality, Output During, and Scale And Letterbox Output To Fit Video Monitor: “Preview on an external video monitor” on page 126 User Interface Colors

• Cycle Mask Colors: “Control mask path color” on page 260

• User Interface Brightness: “Brighten or darken the interface” on page 18 Auto-Save

• Automatically Save Projects and Maximum Project Versions: “Save and back up projects” on page 24 Multiprocessing

• Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously: “Render multiple frames simultaneously” on page 40 Audio Hardware and Audio Output Mapping

• Audio Hardware and Audio Output Mapping: “Preview video and audio” on page 120 Chapter 3: Planning and managing projects Project basics About project files An After Effects project is a single file that stores compositions and references to all of the footage items that you use in that project. Compositions are collections of layers. Many layers use footage items as a source, though some layers—such as shape layers and text layers—contain graphics that you create within After Effects. A project file has the file-name extension.aep. The name of the current project appears at the top of the application window.

A template project is a file with the file-name extension.aet. You can use the many template projects included with After Effects—including DVD menu templates—as the basis for your own projects, and you can create new templates based on your projects.

A great way to see how advanced users use After Effects is to open one of the template projects included with After Effects, select all of its layers, and press U or UU to reveal only the animated or modified properties. This shows you what changes the designer of the template project made to create the template. You may need to unlock some layers to select them.

Create and open projects Only one project can be open at a time. If you create or open another project file while a project is open, After Effects prompts you to save changes in the open project, and then closes it. After you create a project, you can import footage into the project.

• To create a project, choose File New New Project.

• To open a project, choose File Open Project, locate the project, and then click Open.

• To open the most recently opened project, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+P (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+P (Mac OS).

See also “Import an After Effects project” on page 63

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See also “Lock or unlock a layer” on page 149 Open a template project

• To browse and open template projects using Adobe Bridge, choose File Browse Template Projects. Double-click a template project to open it.

• To open a template project, choose File Open Project. On Windows, choose Adobe After Effects Project Template from the Files Of Type menu.

Create a template project

• To convert a project to a template project, change the file-name extension from.aep to.aet.

• To save a copy of a project as a template project, choose File Save A Copy, and then rename the copy with the file-name extension.aet.

Save and back up projects

• To save a project, choose File Save.

• To save a copy of the project with a new automatically generated name, choose File Increment And Save, or press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S (Windows) or Command+Option+Shift+S (Mac OS).

A copy of the current project is saved in the same folder as the original project. The name of the copy is the name of the original followed by a number. If the name of the original ends with a number, that number is increased by 1.

• To save the project with a different name or to a different location, choose File Save As.

The open project takes the new name and location; the original file remains unchanged.

• To save a copy of the project with a different name or to a different location, choose File Save A Copy.

The open project retains its original name and location, and a copy is created with the new settings but is not opened.

• To automatically save copies of projects at regular intervals, choose Edit Preferences Auto-Save (Windows) or After Effects Preferences Auto-Save (Mac OS), and select Automatically Save Projects.

Auto-saved files are saved in the Adobe After Effects Auto-Save folder, which is located in the same folder as the original project file. Auto-saved file names are based on the project name: After Effects adds “auto-save n” (where n is the number of the file in the auto-save series) to the end of the file name. Maximum Project Versions specifies how many versions of each project file you want to save. When the number of versions saved reaches the maximum you specify, the Auto-Save feature overwrites them starting with the oldest file.

• To save a copy of the project and copies of assets used in the project, use the Collect Files command. (See “Collect files in one location” on page 594.)

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Mid-gray lines between tiles in the flowchart indicate that the Video or Audio switch for those items is deselected in the Timeline panel. Black or light gray lines indicate that the switch is selected, depending on the User Interface Brightness preference setting.

• To open the project’s flowchart, press Ctrl+F11 (Windows) or Command+F11 (Mac OS), or click the Project Flowchart View button at the top of the vertical scroll bar on the right edge of the Project panel.

• To open a composition’s flowchart, select the composition and choose Composition Comp Flowchart View, or click the Comp Flowchart View button at the bottom of the Composition panel.

• To activate (select) an item, click its tile in the Flowchart panel.

When you click a composition in the flowchart, it becomes active in the Project panel and the Timeline panel. When you click a layer, it becomes active in the Timeline panel. When you click a footage item, it becomes active in the Project panel.

• To customize the appearance of the flowchart, use the Flowchart panel menu and the buttons along the bottom of the panel.

For tool tips identifying the buttons in the Flowchart panel, let your pointer hover over a button until the tool tip appears.

• To delete elements, select them and press Delete. If the selected element is a footage item or composition, it is deleted from the project and no longer appears in the Timeline and Project panels. If the selected element is a layer, it is deleted from the composition in which it appears.

• To access the context menu for a selected element, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the icon to the left of the name in the element tile. The icons have various appearances, depending on the element type, such as layers and compositions. For example, you can use the context menu for a layer to work with masks and effects, or to change switches, apply transformations, and adjust layer image quality.

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