Creating a project and importing footage
When you begin each lesson of this book, it’s a good idea to restore the default preferences for After Effects. (See “Restoring default preferences” on page 3.) You can do this with a simple keyboard shortcut.
- Press Ctrl+Alt+Shift (Windows) or Option+Command+Shift (Mac OS) while starting After Effects to restore default preferences settings. When prompted, click OK to delete your preferences file.
- Click Close to close the Welcome window.
After Effects opens to display an empty, untitled project.
An After Effects project is a single file that stores references to all the footage you use in that project. It also contains compositions, which are the individual containers used to combine footage, apply effects, and, ultimately, drive the output.
When you begin a project, often the first thing you’ll do is add footage to it.
- Choose File > Import > File.
- Navigate to the Assets folder in your AECS4_CIB/Lessons/Lesson01 folder. Shift-click to select the DJ.mov, gc_adobe_dj.mp3,
kaleidoscope_waveforms.mov, and pulsating_radial_waves.mov files (all the files except bgwtext.psd). Then click Open.
A footage item is the basic unit in an After Effects project. You can import many types of footage items, including moving-image files, still-image files, still-image sequences, audio files, layered files from Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, other After Effects projects, and projects created in Adobe Premiere Pro. You can import footage items at any time.
As you import assets, After Effects reports its progress in the Info panel.
Because one of the footage items for this project is a multilayer Photoshop file, you’ll import it separately as a composition.
- Double-click in the lower area of the Project panel to open the Import File dialog box.
- Navigate to the Lesson01/Assets folder again, and select the bgwtext.psd file. Choose Composition from the Import As menu,
and then click Open.
After Effects opens an additional dialog box with options for the file you’re importing.
- In the Bgwtext.psd dialog box, choose Composition from the Import Kind menu to import the layered Photoshop file as a composition. Select Editable Layer Styles in the Layer Options area, and then click OK. The footage items appear in the Project panel.
- In the Project panel, deselect all footage items and then click to select any of them. Notice that a thumbnail preview appears
at the top of the Project panel. You can also see the file type and size, as well as other information about each item, in
the Project panel columns.
When you import files, After Effects doesn’t copy the video and audio data itself into your project. Instead, each footage item in the Project panel contains a reference link to the source files. When After Effects needs to retrieve image or audio data, it reads it from the source file. This keeps the project file small, and it allows you to update source files in another application without modifying the project.
To save time and minimize the size and complexity of a project, import a footage item once and then use it multiple times in a composition. In some cases, you may need to import a source file more than once, such as if you want to use it at two different frame rates.
After you’ve imported footage, it’s a good time to save the project.
- Choose File > Save. In the Save As dialog box, navigate to the AECS4_CIB/Lessons/Lesson01/Finished_Project folder. Name the project Lesson01_Finished.aep, and then click Save.