First Creativecow Tutorial: AE: Quick Tips for Better Workflow: Part 1


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Hi, I’m Gyorfi Szilard, the owner of Bluefx.net. Today I will show you a couple of quick workflow tips. It’s essential to learn the shortcuts that can save you time and effort. I know  shortcuts are boring! But stay with me, and you’ll see how useful they can be.

We’ll cover: Editing, Working with Keyframes, and Navigation. There are many shortcuts in After Effects, but I’ll just show you the ones I use in my day-to-day work. Have you ever tried editing video in After Effects? I know I have, so let me show you how to do that quickly. I made a composition here, called Editing. I’ll drag a video in. First, you’ll see the video is larger than the composition, so what I need to do is drag it like this, and hold Shift to preserve the aspect ratio. But it’s time-consuming, and it’s not really precise.

First shortcut: Select the layer, and hit Ctrl-Alt-F. This will fit the video to the composition.

Now I would like to go to where she starts smiling in the video. Again, I can drag the current time indicator, like so, or I can use a shortcut. PgUp and PgDn will move the time indicator forward and backward by one frame. If you’d like to jump ten frames, hold Shift while hitting PgUp or PgDn.

Here, I’d like to make an edit, to cut the video in half. How do you do this? You could go to the endpoint, and try to trim the layer like this, but if you have a video that’s half an hour, you have a lot of space to cover! So there’s a cool shortcut to split the video in half. Put the time indicator where you want the split to happen, and hold Ctrl-Shift-D. It’s easy to remember like this: Ctrl-D doubles the layer, and if you hold down Ctrl-Shift-D, it cuts in half.

Let’s see some other keyboard shortcuts. When you’d like to make a transition  fading this part of the video into the layer underneath, for instance what do you do? Go to the beginning of the layer; you can drag it, like this, but as I said, with a longer layer it can be difficult to get there quickly. So all you need to do is press the I key, for In-point, or O, for the out-point.

Let’s see about working with keyframes and layers. Here I have a composition with a couple of videos. Look at the first video. I’m sure you know this shortcut  the U key. When you press it, all the keyframes show up. It’s called the Uber key, for all I know! Press it again, and they disappear. This can be quite useful.

We have these keyframes here. This is a bloom effect on the video. I would like to make this happen a little bit faster; I can drag this keyframe like this, but if I really want to be precise, and move it just three frames, for instance, how can I do that? The easiest way is to use this shortcut  select the keyframe, hold Alt, and press the left or right directional arrow keys. It moves one frame. If you’d like to move it ten frames, hold Alt-Shift and then press the directional keys. Here’s another keyboard shortcut. You’ve seen that, for instance, on this layer I have a bunch of effects and expressions. How can I select just the expressions? Hit U, so everything is hidden, and for the expressions, hit the E key twice: E-E. You’ll only see the expressions. Let’s hide the keyframes with U. Here’s another thing: I have, here, a lot of video layers. I would like to sync every video layer here, except this one. Every video layer has the bloom effect; this is composed of many other effects, with a couple of expressions. But I would like to synchronize them, so the bloom effect happens at the same time on all the layers. How can I do that? It’s quite difficult, because if you try to select all the keyframes, go up, and move it, it can be difficult because of the expressions and effects. So select the effect you’re interested in, and push S-S. Now we only see that particular effect. Now it’s much easier to put them side by side; I’m holding Shift while dragging, and the keyframes stick in this position; they align automatically.

I’m sure you know this keyboard shortcut  Ctrl-A selects all the layers, and if you’d like to deselect them all, hit F2. It’s hard to deselect something like this, with only the mouse, so remember F2 to deselect everything.

Let’s say I have a video here, and I’d like to move it up. If I have everything open, with Ctrl-A and hitting the Uber key twice, I have every parameter and every effect open here. I’m hitting F2 to deselect all. But now I’d like to have this video on top. How can I do this? I can start dragging like this  dragging, and waiting or I can use another keyboard shortcut. Select this layer, and hit Ctrl-Alt-Up or Down directional arrow.



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