9 Tips For Editing Video in After Effects

Adobe After Effects is not built to edit video…
(it was built for motion graphics and animation)

But, you can still use it to edit short videos

there is a workaround…

Hello and welcome to this tutorial. My name is Remus Hosu from bluefx.net.

In this tutorial we are going to cover

9 useful tips for video editing in After Effects that will help you work more efficiently and improve your workflow.

So let’s step right into it.

In After Effects, I’m going to import 3 footage files.

You can import any footage if you want to follow along.

Right-click and select File-Import. Now, let’s create a new composition.

We’ll be doing that by dragging a video on the new composition button.

Tip #1: Trim or Extend a layer

To quickly trim or extend a layer, instead of dragging the ends of the layer duration bar, set the time indicator to the position where you want your video to start and hit “Alt+[” to the position where you want your video to end and hit “Alt+]”.

Now, you noticed that this shortcut trims the video to the desired length but this command also extends it.

Set the time indicator to the desired length and hit again “Alt+[” or “Alt+]” to extend it.

Tip #2 Start your video at a specific time

If you want your video to start at a specific time, for instance at 10 seconds mark, move the cursor to 10 seconds or click at the top of the composition panel
edit after effects timeline
and enter the time, then press the “{” key.

So now our video starts at 10 second mark.

Alternatively hit the “}” key to set the end time of your video.

If you don’t see the timecode on top of the composition panel, you will most probably see the current frame indicator.

To switch to timecode, hold down ctrl and left click it.

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Tip #3: hold down shift while moving the layer duration bar
And another quick tip:

if you hold down shift while moving the layer duration bar, it will snap to the time indicator.

You can see the video tutorial demonstrating each tip here:


Tip #4 Use Slip Editing

So now that our layer is trimmed let’s move on to slip-editing.

These pale rectangles at either ends of the duration bar represent the footage frames that you are excluding from the composition and will not be played or rendered.

You can slip the footage, choosing which frames are played within a trimmed layer without affecting it’s in and out points, so in other words, it’s position in the timeline.

Keep in mind that trimming or extending the layer duration doesn’t move keyframes, dragging the layer duration does.

Let’s add some quick keyframes.

Now, you’ll notice that I if I drag the slip-edit bar, the keyframes aren’t moving unless they are selected.

So, in short, trimming a layer refers to the duration of the footage, while slip-editing refers to what frames will be played from the footage in that duration.

Keep in mind the slip-editing doesn’t apply to still footage items.

So, if I import a photo and trim it, we won’t get the pale rectangles.


Tip #5 Use The Split Layer Tool
Another cool feature from After Effects is the Split Layer Tool.

Let’s assume you want to split this video at this point and insert another video in between.

Select the layer you want to split and go to “EditSplit Layer” or you can use the short cut “Ctrl+Shift+”, and now you’ll see that we have two layers.

Tip #6 “Ripple Insert “ a video

To instantly insert another video between these two, we have a tool called ripple tool. In the project area, double-click on the footage you want to insert and the layer panel will open up. Now, go to the bottom of the panel and press the “Ripple Insert Edit” button.

This tool inserts a video in the exact position of the time indicator shifting the layer or the layers after the current time, to accommodate the new layer. But what if the cursor is set in another position? Let’s say we want to insert a video in this position. Well, the ripple tool automatically splits the video or the videos from the timeline and inserts the video from the layer panel.


Tip #7 Use the overlay tool

OK, moving on to the next tool, we have the overlay tool. This tool adds a footage layer as the topmost layer at the current time, without shifting the other layers. Double click on the footage you want to overlay, and hit the overlay edit button.

Tip #8 Use the “Extract work area”

Now, in video editing the inverse for overlay is lift and the inverse for insert is extract. Let’s set the work area to the duration of this video and if we go to “Edit – Extract work area”, it will remove the selected frames from this work area. If the other layers are selected too, it will shift them back in time so there is no gap.

Tip #9 Use The Lift Tool

To remove a range of frames go to “Edit-Lift Work Area”. Take note that if the layer that you are lifting is in between other layers, this function will not shift the other layers back in time, it will leave a gap in the timeline.


Thank you for watching this tutorial, I hope this information will help you speed up your video editing.

Let me know what you think, by leaving a comment here

Remus Hosu

Remus Hosu

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