Animation Efficiency: Work Faster in Adobe After Effects | Megan Friesth | Skillshare

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Animation Efficiency: Work Faster in Adobe After Effects

teacher avatar Megan Friesth, Motion Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

13 Lessons (1h 28m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. Get Organized

    • 3. Optimize Your Workspace

    • 4. Work Faster with Layers

    • 5. Utilize Invisible Tools

    • 6. Work Faster with Compositions

    • 7. Work Faster with Keyframes

    • 8. Know Your Keyboard Shortcuts

    • 9. Understand After Effects

    • 10. Speed Up After Effects

    • 11. Pre-Render Portions

    • 12. Render More Efficiently

    • 13. Class Project: Audit Your Workflow

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About This Class

Learn how to stay organized, uncover tons of time-saving tips, and discover how you can help your computer run more quickly, all to maximize your efficiency in Adobe After Effects.


Animation is a time consuming process. Luckily, Adobe After Effects is full of hidden features and shortcuts that, if you know about them, can be implemented into your workflow to get more done in less time. This class will cover strategies for minimizing tedious tasks, systems to stay organized, and shortcuts for working more efficiently.

You'll learn how to:

  • Create an organization system for project files and assets within Ae
  • Optimize your Adobe After Effects workspace so you can work more efficiently
  • Utilize tips, tricks, and tools to manipulate layers, compositions, invisible tools and keyframes faster
  • Incorporate keyboard shortcuts into your workflow (including a downloadable guide for Mac and PC)
  • Make Adobe After Effects runĀ faster to decrease wait time to preview and render animations

Who this class is for:

This class is for motion designers who are comfortable with the basics of Adobe After Effects and want to take their workflow to the next level.

What you should know before taking this class:

  • Adobe After Effects basics like creating compositions, setting keyframes, rendering, etc.
  • Working with different files in Adobe After Effects (e.g. Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop files, audio, video)
  • How to connect (parent) layers
  • How to apply an effect to a layer
  • How to animate the path of a shape
  • How to add easing to keyframes and use the graph editor to adjust the spacing of an animation

Need to learn more about these concepts? Check out some of my other classes:

After this class, check out my other classes:

Find me online:

My website




Meet Your Teacher

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Megan Friesth

Motion Designer

Top Teacher

Hi! I'm Megan Friesth, a motion designer and illustrator from Boulder, Colorado. For my job I create explanimations–that is educational animations–and here I create education on how to animate! I have degrees in physiology and creative technology & design. By combining these two disciplines I create explanimations that help patients with chronic diseases understand complex medical information and take control of their health. When I'm not inside Adobe Illustrator or After Effects, I love traveling, running, skiing, yoga, and doing craft projects.

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1. Welcome: Jellyfish are believed to be one of the most efficient animals on the planet. To swim, they contract their bell-shaped body creating two vortexes that spin in opposite directions. This creates a virtual wall that it's as if the jellyfish is pushing off of. As the jellyfish relaxes, one vortex moves up into the bell, giving it an extra boost with no additional energy. Scientists think that because jellyfish are such efficient swimmers, the energy saved can go towards other things, and this may explain why they can be so prolific. Welcome to Animation Efficiency : Work Faster in Adobe After Effects. This class is not about animating jellyfish, it's about animating like a jellyfish. Animation is time-consuming, but if done more efficiently, well, you have more time to make more animations. I'm Megan Friesth, and I'm an explanimator. By that, I mean that I write, illustrate, and animate educational animations, mostly on health and environment-related topics. In this class, I'll walk you through my process of staying organized by best tips, tricks and tools for doing more and less time and how to make After Effects run faster, all to maximize your efficiency. This class is for motion designers who are comfortable with the basics of After Effects and want to learn how to level up their workflow. If that's not yet you, check out some of my other classes. By the end of this class, you'll be equipped with tons of tips and techniques to work faster in After Effects, so if you're ready to be a more prolific motion designer, then let's get started. 2. Get Organized: The first thing that I do when starting any new project, is to create a folder with folders inside for all of the different pieces of my project. This way I can keep everything altogether and stay organized. These are the folders that I typically need for an educational animation. But the folders that you need might be different depending on the project. Let's take a look at an example of a real project. In this animation called How Kidneys Work, I have an After Effects folder and that has all the different versions of my project file. For this, I'm incrementing the saves on this project file so that if something gets corrupt along the way or something gets messed up, I can go back to an earlier version. It's like a manual auto save, although I am also auto saving, which you can see I have this auto save folder. Also in this After Effects folder, I have any After Effects project files that I've imported from a different project. This folder right here has pieces that I'm using from a different project that I'm going to import into my project file, so I keep that whole folder in my After Effects folder. Next I have my illustrator folder. If I'm reusing Illustrator files from project to project, like for instance, if a character is in multiple different animations, I always copy the Illustrator file and put it in the new project folder, so that when I import it into After Effects, it's linking to the version that's in the project folder that I'm working on. That way if there are any changes to one of the versions of the Illustrator file or if things get moved around on my computer, there aren't any issues. Also, I have a characters folder within here, because sometimes it's nice to just have all the characters together. This brings up a good point about naming your files. It's really important that you name your file something that makes sense to you now, something that will make sense to your future self, and something that will make sense to other people that might need to look into your files. One thing that I like to do, is name things so that they'll be grouped together when they're in alphabetical order here. Like, I put all the characters in a folder just to keep all the characters together and then I name them by their character or occupation first. I would have all the doctors named doctor and then their name, and then all of the patients, patient and then their name and so on. Also, I like to add master to the filename when I know that this is the character that I'm going to be rigging. So if I had like the character Greg posed in a different way, maybe sitting in a chair, then I would name that patient Greg, sitting in a chair or something like that. Next we have audio. In the audio folder, there's a bunch of other folders. First we have music, pretty straightforward, we have sound effects, so this can get like a big folder with lots of different things in it, and then we have Voice Over and then project files, which is just wherever you edit your audio, the project files from that will go in here. Then the final audio tracks is really important because I like to have all of the final things that go into my animation. As you saw with the other folders, like the sound effects folder, they can have a lot of stuff in them, so it's nice to just have the final tracks that you're going to put back into your animation in a folder clearly labeled. Also for my work, a lot of times we have to translate videos into other languages. Having the sound effects and music on their own file separate from the Voice Over makes it really easy to add in another language then I just need these two files on top my animation. Next we have documents, which is things like the script and storyboards. The out folder is for the final project renders. I like to just have a version number, so I know that the latest, the biggest number is going to be the most recent final animation rather than naming things final and then final final and then final final final, you know how that goes. The rough animations folder is for drafts of the animation or just test portions of scenes that I want to show to other people to get feedback on. Another folder that I don't have in this particular project, but that I often use, is called rendered scenes. This is for when you render out a portion of your animation and it is the final animation, but just not the full thing. It's good to store them in their own folder. That way, when you go to render your final animation, you can just grab all of these rendered scenes, piece them together, and then your final render, will go a lot faster. This can be especially helpful if you're working on a really long animation or something that's really render intensive and we'll talk more about this later in class. Once you figure out the folders that you tend to use for a project, it's nice to have a template so that you don't have to recreate these folders every time you start a project. Basically all I've done to create this template, is created these folders and they're all just empty. Then I just save this on my desktop, and when I want to go and make a new project, I just duplicate this and then rename the duplicate. There's one other thing that I haven't showed you about my template. So actually in my After Effects folder, I have an After Effects project file, that's a template file. Let me show you what that looks like. This is my template file. It's pretty simple, all it has is some folders. The folder structure that I've created in my After Effects project file template are similar to the folders in finer. For instance, rendered scenes is where I'm going to export a piece of my animation from After Effects, keep it in this folder, and then import it back into After Effects and store it in this folder. Scenes will be the unrendered scenes, so the actual working project. Then elements are things that are going to be reused in different places and I'll show you an example of that in a second. The folder labeled out is going to be those very final animations. One other thing that you might want to think about, including in here, besides just the folders, is any logos or disclaimers or anything like that that you use over and over. Let's take a look at a real project. In this, how kidneys work project, you can see that my folder structure is similar to the folders in finder. I have just the audio that I'm going to be adding to the final animation, I don't need to clutter this with sound effects, because I edit all of the audio in a separate application. Then I have my out folder, which is going to be my final animation, this just the composition where I'm compiling everything for the final animation. Then in my timeline of my final animation, you can see that I basically have three scenes, which are these right here. The rest is just like controllers, some texts on top and masks, stuff like that. These three scenes are stored in the scenes folder, if we go into one of my scenes, these scenes are going to be made up of different elements. My elements folder contains lots of different compositions and imported illustrator files and things like that that are used across my animation, maybe once or maybe multiple times, so they could be used within different scenes or multiple times within the same scene. Basically the elements are different pieces of animation that may or may not be used multiple times. There's one more step that you can take with your After Effects template. If you want After Effects to always use your template when you create a new project, all you need to do is go up to After Effects, Preferences and then New Project and then you want to check the new project loads template button, and navigate to your template on your computer and then just click "Open." Now every time you start a new After Effects project file, it'll load up your template with all of the folders in any assets that you've left in there. We've talked about staying organized with folders and with project files, but now let's go into the project files and talk about how to stay organized. The number 1 thing to do within a file to stay organized is to label your layers. It's so easy to do but also so easy not to do. But really taking that extra second to label your layers, will save you much time in the long run. It's also really helpful to have a naming convention that you always use when you label your layers. For example, one thing that I like to do is label the thing first for example, this eye is going to be labeled eye, and then any attributes about that thing will go afterwards. I like to even separate those out with a little dash because I think it just makes it visually easier to see and then easier to find what you're looking for. I always label things like eye left or eye right or there's the main seed, which is just called seed and then the shadow on the seed is like part of the seed, but it's also its own thing, it needs to be on a separate layer for animation purposes, so I've labeled it seed and then shadow. The thing and then any features of the thing. Here's another example, again from another one of my classes, that's a bit more abstract. It would have been really easy just to leave all of these different boxes called like shape 1 or layer 1, layer 2, but that would make it really hard to find what I'm looking for. Instead what I've done, is I've gone in and labeled all of the layers. I've labeled what they are first, so rectangle, and then D for dark blue and then I've also given a little description as to what is on top of it. If you have a bunch of layers like these lines that you want to name something very similar, like line 1, line 2, line 3, there's actually a plug-in within After Effects that can do that all at once. You don't have to sit there and label each line individually. That plugin is called Motion 3 and I cover in my class about plugins. In rare cases like this, I would just leave all of these layers unnamed and some say the only thing that's unnamed, they're easy to find and then I would name them in After Effects. Another thing that I like to do when naming characters, is to name the characters left or the characters right. This hand is on my right side when I'm looking at the character, but that could change if the character spins around or something. I always label things as they are in relation to the character, so the character is right or the character is left. Another thing that you can do to stay visually organized, especially when you have a lot of layers in After Effects, is to color-code your layers. In order to color code the layers, all you have to do is click on the little colored box here and then choose your color. For example, for characters I like to have the face be orange, the body yellow, and then left arm green and so on. It's the same for every character, so it's really easy for me to find what I'm looking for. Going back to this more abstract example, here's another reason why you might want to color code your layers. For this, obviously there's so many different layers here and each little rectangle is its own vignette. I've colored these all accordingly. For example, this whole thing goes together, so all of these are blue, or all of these ones are, I think this is called sea foam, which is this whole little box here. The anchor is all green, so color-coding your layers can help you group things visually in your timeline. Another reason why it's nice to have all of your layers color-coded, is because if you select the color-coding box and then go to Select Label Group, it will select everything that's colored with that color and then you can easily manipulate all of those layers at once. You can also come up with certain colors that you always use for different layers, After Effects already does this. For example, if you go to New Null Object, null objects are always red, so maybe you like to have your controllers always be red, or your masks always be dark green or something like that. Another example is that when you make shape layers, After Effects always makes those layers blue. If you want to change the default colors for different layers, you can do that by going to After Effects, Preferences and then labels. Then you can rename the colors or you can even choose new colors and you can choose what layers get what colors. I'm going to keep mine on default, so that I don't make things over confusing for you. 3. Optimize Your Workspace: [MUSIC] When you open up After Effects, if it looks like this, and you're still using one on the default After Effects workspaces, then you might want to think about customizing it to better suit your needs. Let me show you how to do that. This is the default workspace. There are others under Window and then Workspace that you can try out, but let's create our own. Starting with the default workspace, I'm just going to go and open up a lot of different scripts, extensions, and plugins that I frequently use. These might just open up in separate panels or After Effects might start to dock them, but let's just get everything we want opened. You can also open other things that are part of After Effects like brushes or paint or something like that. Those are not things that I use, and I think I have everything that I need After Effects wise already open. These floating panels really drive me crazy because they're always getting in the way, and you're always having to move them. I'm just going to find homes for all of these different floating panels. To do that, I'm just going to grab from where the name is and then drag it and you can see these highlighted areas, and that's going to be where you can drop them. I'm just going to create a new panel over here. Drop that down there. I would like Motion to be above Overload, so let's just drop it above like that. Let's throw GifGun over here. I want Limber to be in the same tab as Motion, so I'm just going to drag it up right next to the name Motion and same with Joysticks and Sliders. Now, I can resize the panels. You can shift them around if you want one to be on top. If you forgot any, you can always go grab them. This is how I want my workspace to look, and I want it to look like this every time I open After Effects. I don't want to have to rearrange every time I open up a new project. If yours doesn't look like that, that's totally fine. I would not expect it to, because you might not have all the same plugins that I do, and that's totally fine. You don't need them for this class. Once you get your workspace in the way that you like it, then you want to go up to Window, Workspace, and then Save As New Workspace. Then you can just title this really creative, My Workspace, and then just hit "Okay." Then once you go under Window, Workspace, just go and check My Workspace, and then it will be set to your saved layout. If you realize you need to make some changes and you want to save that into your workspace, you can do that right here. Or if you've messed things up and want to go back to the way that it was in your saved layout, then you can do that here. You can create different workspaces for different tasks or different projects. If you'd like to switch between workspaces, there are these handy little buttons up here where you can quickly switch between workspaces. You can click these arrows to edit which ones show up in this bar. Within Preferences, there are a bunch of different things you can go in and change. I'll show you a couple that I like to have changed. For example, if you create a shape layer, a lot of times the anchor point will not be in the center of the shape layer because it's centering it in the middle of the composition. But I find that a lot of times, I want the anchor point to actually be in the center of the shape. Now, you can always use a plugin to center it, or you can use the Pan Behind tool, which is also Y on the keyboard. Then hold down command to snap it into place, either in the center or any one of the corners or edges. But if you're sick of doing that, you can change the default. Under After Effects, Preferences, and then General, we just want to turn on this checkbox that says, Center Anchor Point In New Shape Layers. Now, when I make a shape layer, you see how the anchor point automatically jumps into the center of the shape. Another thing you might want to change is the way that motion paths work. For example, if I was going to animate this little square, something like that, you can see with this motion path, the After Effects automatically likes to make a nice curvy line. Now, sometimes that can be nice, but sometimes it's not so nice, and then you have to go in and go down to the Convert Vertex tool, ends up those points so that it becomes straight. If you don't want to have to do that because you usually prefer it to be linear and would rather change it back if you wanted it to be smooth, well, there's something you can change in Preferences so you don't have to keep doing that. Under Preferences, General, you can check this box that says, Default Spatial Interpolation To Linear. Now, let's see what that does. Let's just animate this shape. Now, you can see that this one just went straight to this point and then straight to that point, it didn't make a curvy line. Now, if I wanted to make a curvy line, I could always use this tool to add handles. One other thing to make sure of in Preferences is under Auto-Save. I think that Auto-Save is setup by default, but there's really nothing less efficient than losing a bunch of work and time that you've put into that work when something crashes or the power goes out or something like that, so make sure that Auto-Save is turned on. You can even set it to less than 20 minutes if you feel like you'll make a lot of progress in 20 minutes, and you're not willing to lose that much if something went wrong. I think it's easy to just have it saved next to the project if you've organized your project folders similar to what I have. Another tip to optimize your workflow is in the Character panel. Any fonts that you often use, just give them a star. Then instead of searching through all of your fonts, you can just click this little star and there they are. 4. Work Faster with Layers: While you may already know some of the tips, tricks, and tools in this section of the class, maybe you just haven't gotten in the habit of using them, or there's maybe some that are new to you. The first step is pretty simple and it's just to utilize the Hide, Solo, Lock, and Shy buttons on layers. Say I was just working on this little green block over here with the Anchor, if I wanted to just work on those, I could Solo them. Or in a reverse way, if I wanted to not see these, I could Hide them. If I wanted to make sure that I never mess them up on accident, I could Lock them. If they are all done and I'm just going through and figuring out which pieces are left to do, maybe that's a good time to Shy them. When you Shy something, it takes it away from your timeline as long as you have this little shy guy buttoned, set to On or Blue. Then when you click this again, it'll bring back those shy layers. They're not really gone, they're just hidden. That's different from hiding them in this way with the eyeball because the eyeball takes them away from the composition, whereas the shy button, when that switched on, which it is now, once you click this, takes them away from you on your timeline. All of these little switches are ways to keep a clean and organized timeline and composition so that you can do your work quicker, easily seeing what you need to see and not seeing what you don't need to see. For this tip, I'm using this fun project that I did of a bunch of fall photos that I took. What I want to do with this project is just trim all of these different photos to maybe five or six frames and then stagger them across my timeline. If I were to do that manually, it could be quite tedious. Here's a faster way to do that. I'm just going to bring my playhead to five frames. Select them all by hitting Command A. Then do Option and the right bracket to trim them. Notice how my playhead was on five frames, but it trimmed my layers to be six frames long. It always trims one frame after where your play head is. Now with all my layers still selected, I'm going to right-click, go to Keyframe Assistant, and then Sequence Layers. Then it'll bring up this little box. I don't want to have any overlap because I want one photo at a time and then I'm just going to hit Okay. Now you can see that this staggers out all my layers so that they're one right after another. Now, I can play this back and you'll just get to see all my photos for just a couple of frames each. If you had a different project where you actually wanted different layers to come in at different times but remain on screen, you can just drag your layers out. Obviously for this project, that doesn't really work. But if your layers were staggered in the wrong direction than what you wanted, the way that you select your layers actually matters. Let's just undo. This time I'm going to select starting from the bottom and then going all the way up to the top. Whichever layer you select first will be the first one in your sequence. Now when I right-click Keyframe Assistant, Sequence Layers, and hit Okay, you can see that they're sequenced in the other direction, so from the bottom layer to the top. Just keep in mind that whichever layer you select first will be the first one in the sequence. Another tip for you is if you're sliding layers around in your timeline and you want them to snap to the beginning and ends of other layers. If you hold down Shift, it'll nicely snap into place. While this class is not about plug-ins or add-ons for After Effects, I should mention one because it's really helpful when staggering layers. This is called Dojo Shifter. If I wanted to randomly stagger these layers, because this order is chronological order of how I took them, and maybe I just want to mix it up a little bit, well, Dojo Shifter has a setting for that, as well as bunch of other things that you can do that you can't do as easily with just After Effects. Let me just take all of these layers, line them back up at the beginning, and then I'm going to use Dojo Shifter to choose Random. I've offset by six frames. You could also offset individual keyframes and a bunch of other things, but then if I hit Stagger, you can see that this has just randomly mixed up all these layers, but there's none that are overlapping and there should be no blank spaces. Here's a tip for working with shape layers. Say you want to have a square that turns into a circle or vice versa. You could draw out a rectangle and then convert this path to a Bezier path. Then try to smooth this out by using the convert vertex tool and then animating them into a circle. But that is going to be a lot of work. Instead, let's undo all of that and make sure that our rectangle is a Rectangle Path. Then from here we can just toggle down Rectangle Path and turn up the rounded corners. Now we have a circle. You could animate this property to go from a circle, back to a square, and vice versa. You can also obviously do the same thing with different kinds of shapes like rectangles to ovals or maybe even stars to circles and stuff like that. One other example of using the Rounded Corners tool is you can make a shape that's some kind of organic shape. Say this was like the bell of my jellyfish. Now, just a warning, this is not exactly how I animated the jellyfish, but I'll do a separate tutorial if you're interested in that. But say I'm trying to make like this bell-shaped body of the jellyfish. I've drawn out this really clunky shape. Now, if I go into my shape and go to add Round Corners, and bring this value up, now I have a nice organic shape. If I wanted to animate this kind of the animation of the jellyfish, like swimming, I could set keyframes on the path property, and then I have a lot less anchor points to work with than if I had made this smooth shape and had a bunch of different anchor points in order to make this nice and smooth. With less anchor points it's easier to animate. I can just move a couple and it's still going to be smooth. Thanks to that rounded corners effect. Just like that, I have a simple little animation that didn't take much time at all and so looks pretty decent. 5. Utilize Invisible Tools: There are a few options for using grids and guides in After Effects to help line up your artwork. The first thing to know is that this little button here is where you can find your grids and guides. The first one is Title Action Safe. That's just going to show you a good area where you want to keep your artwork within so that you can account for things getting cut off depending on what format you're using. If you're working in a composition that's 16:9 ratio, like 1920 by 1080, using the Title Safe guide will show you the 4:3 aspect ratio within that. That can be really helpful. Another thing that's helpful with Title Action Safe is that it gives you a nice center point. The keyboard shortcut for Title Action Safe is just the quotes key. Next on our list is Proportional Grid. This gives you a grid that's going to be proportional to the size of your composition. I find this grid really helpful to center things and evenly space things throughout a composition. The keyboard shortcut is Option and the quotes key. Next up is the grid. This one is not always proportional depending on the size of your grid spacing and the size of your composition. This one also has little subdivisions. You can really get down to the details with this. The keyboard shortcut for this type of grid is Command and the apostrophe key. Now if you want to customize what your grid looks like, maybe you want the spacing to be a little bit wider, you can go up to After Effects, preferences, and then Grids and Guides. From here you have the option to even change the color if you are not seeing your grid clear enough, you can change how far spaced apart the grid lines are, and how many subdivisions there are. You also have options for your Proportional Grid here. Next step is creating your own guidelines. In order to do this, you're going to need to bring up the rulers. To do this, you can either use this drop-down to bring up rulers or the keyboard shortcut is Command R. Then if you drag out from the ruler, you can get your own guideline and place that wherever you want to on your composition. To show or hide your guides, you want to use Command and the semicolon key. Another option if you aren't remembering the keyboard shortcuts is to go up to View and then you've got all of these options here. You could Lock your Guides, Clear Guides, or remember the keyboard shortcuts by looking over here. I'm just going to clear those guides. You can also turn layers into guides. For example, this color controls layer is just these three little squares that contain different colors that I'm using throughout my composition. I've set this to a guide layer, even though technically it's made of shapes so it's a shape layer. But you can see that this little hashtag symbol right here means that it's a guide layer. In order to make a layer a guide layer, all you have to do is right-click and then check Guide Layer on. What this means is that when I render this composition out, this layer will not be visible in my final render. Likewise, if I were to put this into another composition, you can see that those little squares up in the corner are not showing up. Even though this jellyfish is the same one from this comp. Another tool to get in the habit of utilizing is markers. Markers are like leaving yourself little notes within your layers or compositions to give yourself information. It's easier when you need to come back to your project later or just to align things up between one composition and another composition. For example, I've added these little markers to these different tentacle layers so that I know where the start of the loop is and so that I can offset these tentacles so that they're not all moving in the same shape at the same time. These markers help me offset the animation by just sliding the layers around. I can see where the start of the loop is by the marker. To create these markers on a specific layer, all you need to do is have the layer selected and hit Control 8 and that will add the marker directly to the layer. If you want to delete a marker, just right-click on it and you can delete all markers, just this marker. You could even lock your markers so that you don't accidentally move them and then just hit Delete. Also note that you can slide markers around by just clicking them and moving them. Now, what if you wanted to put a marker on your entire composition, not just for a specific layer. You can do that. Let's take this jellyfish example. Let's say when the jellyfish is about to start contracting its bell or its main body, right about here. I want to put a marker on my composition and that way when I move this composition into another composition so that I can have multiple jellyfish in the composition, I'll know where the contraction of the bell starts. I have no layer selected. I'm just going to hit Control 8 on the keyboard and that brings up a marker right on my top timeline panel. Then I'm going to go into a composition where I've combined. I have multiple jellyfish in the composition. You don't see that marker right away. But if you just select the layers, right-click, go to Markers, and then Update Markers From Source, then it'll bring up those markers. It might not automatically update if you add a marker and then later want to go see it. If you're not seeing markers that you expect to be there, then that would be the step that you need to take. Then these markers can help me know when the contraction of the bell is happening so that the fastest part of this jelly fish's upward motion is happening right here. I can line that up with the graph editor and know that that's where that's happening because of this marker. If you forget the keyboard shortcut to make a marker, you can also just drag it out from the very right of your timeline. If you double-click on a marker, it'll bring up the settings and you can even adjust the time or you can leave a comment, so let's just say note. You can also make the marker last more than just one frame. Let's say I set this to be five frames with the duration. Now, this whole five-frame area is marked here. Just double-click on the marker, if you want to go back and make changes. You can even change the color. In cases where you want to control a bunch of layers at once, it's helpful to use a null object. If you go up to Layer, New, Null Object, it'll bring up this blank layer. It's basically nothing, but it's a layer that you can use to control other layers. For instance, I could parent all of the jellyfish to this little invisible null layer. I'm going to select all of the bigger jellyfish here and then parent them to the null object. Now if I move this null, all of the jellyfish go with it. This could be helpful if I wanted to make all the jellyfish move at the same speed. I could create another null object to move all the smaller jellyfish, which are presumably farther away at different speed with the different null object. This is just one simple example of how a null object can be helpful. Another quick tip for you is that if you want to unparent something from another layer, you can just Command-Click on the pick whip, the little spiral here. If you want to unparent multiple things, if you have them all selected and then you Command-Click on one of the pick whips, they'll all unparent. 6. Work Faster with Compositions: [MUSIC] Let's take a look at some tips for working faster when dealing with compositions. First of all, to create a new composition, you can either use this little button right down here or you can hit Command N. The thing that used to slow me down the most in composition settings was trying to type in a duration into this little box, because I thought that you needed to highlight the numbers that you wanted then type them in to make sure that you have the exact right time. But actually, there's an easier way. You can just delete this whole thing. Say I want a composition that's 20 seconds. I can just do 20 and then a period. You even get a little preview of what you're going to get right here. This is hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. With one period, I'm getting 20 seconds. If I do another period, I'll get 20 minutes. A third period is going to be hours. If we delete these periods and just have 20, that's going to be 20 frames. That makes it a lot faster to type in what you want. For example, if I wanted 20 seconds and 15 frames, I just type 20.15, and there we go. If you want to create a new composition with an existing composition already inside of it, all you need to do is take the composition you want to be inside, drag that onto the new composition button, and then you'll have a new composition with whatever composition you dragged in in that composition already. It's going to adopt all of the composition settings of your original competition that you dragged into the new composition. Here's a shortcut if you want to replace a composition with another composition. This jellyfish in here, I want to replace with my jellyfish alt colors. What I'm going to do is with this composition within my timeline selected, I'm going to drag the other composition from my Project panel, holding down the option key, and I'm going to drag it right on top of this layer. You can see that now, my jellyfish with my alternative color scheme is now replacing this composition. If I had any keyframes already set on the previous composition that was in there, this composition would adopt those keyframes. Pretty cool. Now, if say you had a really complicated project file with tons of different compositions in it. If you have lost your composition within your Project panel and you don't know which folder it's stored in, one thing that you can do, let me hide that, we'll pretend we've lost this composition, this alt colors jellyfish, you can just right-click on the composition, go to Reveal, Reveal Layer Source in Project. It'll open up the folder and highlight that composition in your project panel. You can also right-click on things in the Project panel and reveal which compositions they're in, so just going the other way. You can also right-click on imported files and reveal them in Finder so that you can open up the original file in either Illustrator or Photoshop or whatever program you used to create it, make changes and then save it, and have that update back in After Effects. What if you wanted to take a bunch of layers within a composition and put them into their own composition. For example, I'm just going to select all of the smaller jellyfish here, and I'm going to hit Command Shift C, and then I can pre-compose them. Let's just name this. Then I'm making sure that I have move all attributes into the new composition, check to turn it on, and then just hit "Okay". That just means that that new composition that I created is going to be put into the composition that I was in. Now, I just have this small jellyfish composition and I can double-click to open it. This is called pre-composing. It can be useful for instances when you want to just clean up your project and make things a little bit more organized, or if you wanted to apply an effect to a composition. If I wanted to maybe recolor all of these small jellyfish back in my original composition here, now I just have this small jellyfish composition altogether. I can go over, I'm going to recolor them with the fill effect. I can just drop this effect onto the one composition rather than each individual jellyfish. Then I can just color them, maybe like a darker color. Let's say you have a composition that's longer than you need it to be. I want to trim this to just two seconds. I can drag my work area to two seconds, and then right-click on this work area right here, and do Trim Comp to Work Area. That way, I don't have to go into my composition settings and I can more easily trim the comp to the duration that I want. In a similar way, if you want to trim the size of the composition, instead of going into your composition settings and then adjusting the width and height like this, and maybe not getting the exact look that you want, and going into these buttons and trying to position this exactly how you want it, there's an easier way. Click on this little Region of Interest button, then you can just drag out the area that you want to crop your composition to, and then you just need to go up to Composition, Crop Comp to Region of Interest. Then your composition is going to be cropped to that little area that you selected. 7. Work Faster with Keyframes: Now let's look at some tips, tricks, and tools when you're working with keyframes. The first tip is to use this search bar. You can type things into the search bar like stroke width, even if I just start typing stroke, it'll bring up stroke width, which is nice instead of having to toggle down. This way you can more quickly get to the properties that you need to set keyframes on and set those keyframes. Or another thing that's always a pain to have to toggle down to find is path, so instead, you could just search for path, and then it will bring up all things with the path property. Or if you didn't want to have to scroll through because you were only looking for the path on a certain layer, you can just select that layer and then type in path, and it'll only bring up whatever you're searching for in that one layer. You can do this with multiple layers selected too. If you use a certain search often, you can save it for quicker access. If you hit this little magnifying glass here, then the last thing that you searched for is going to be at the top here, and just Shift-click on that to save it in this list. Also, if you want quick access to the search bar, you can just hit "Command F" and then you can start typing or click to make your selection. This doesn't necessarily have to do with setting keyframes, but while we're on the topic of search, you can also search in the project panel. I could search for tentacle to bring up all the comps called tentacle or something similar. You can also search for the names of layers or comps within the timeline. Another time that search can be really helpful is if you're looking for missing files. I'm not going to have any in this project, but if you search for missing, you can search for missing effects, fonts, footage, or even things that are unused or used. It can be pretty helpful just to search for different kinds of compositions or layers within either your project panel or your timeline. When you're setting keyframes, you can type in math into the values fields. Let's take a look at an example. I'm just going to duplicate this jellyfish by hitting "Command D", "P" to bring up the position property. Then let's say I want to move this second jellyfish over by 200 pixels. I'm going to select the value, make sure my cursor is not going to cause this to be deleted, and then hit "Plus" and then 200 and Enter. Now you can see that it's moved the jellyfish over. You can do this with any different property, you can do it while you're setting keyframes, or if you just want to space things out evenly across your composition. What if you want to know the amount of time between a set of keyframes? For instance, what if I would need to know the amount of time between these two keyframes so that I can maybe make another animation that is also this amount of time? Well, I could put my play head here, figure out that that's happening at one second in two frames, and then this is happening at one second in 10 frames, and then do the math. Or another way to do this without doing math is to Option-click on your first keyframe, then Option-click on your second keyframe and look in your info panel and this will tell you the duration between the keyframes. You can also do the same thing to find the distance between your two markers. Just Option-click first marker, Option-click the second marker, and these are going to be 12 frames apart. You can't unfortunately do this if your markers are on the composition, it won't work between these. Let's take a look at how you can stretch or shrink the amount of time between keyframes to either slow down or speed up your animation. Ignore how this whole thing is set up. This is one of the tentacles of a jellyfish. All you need to know about this composition is that these keyframes are controlling the waviness of the tentacle. Right now it's going this speed. What if I want to make them go faster? What I need to do is just drag and select all of these keyframes, I'm going to position my play head at the beginning, and then I'm going to go down to the last keyframe. I'm just going to hold down Option and drag these towards the left, and that's going to shrink these keyframes. Now when I play this back, it's going to go a lot faster. Now, this duration that I've set for my work area is not the perfect amount of time for a loop, so that's why you see it kind of jumping because I've adjusted the timing of the keyframes. If I undo that, we can also go in the opposite direction, so if I pull these to the right, this is going to slow down the animation. Let's just play a bit of that back, and you can see that this is going much slower. You can also adjust timing of keyframes in the graph editor. With your keyframe selected, you can just go into the graph editor and then click and drag to select your graph. Then you should get this box, if you don't, make sure that you have this little icon, the transform box turned on. Then you can adjust either by pulling horizontally to adjust the timing between keyframes, or you can even adjust vertically to make the keyframes themselves bigger or smaller values. This is going to make this tentacle more wavy. It's going to be bending out more because I just brought these keyframes down, which is bigger in value. 8. Know Your Keyboard Shortcuts: [MUSIC] In this video, I'm going to go through a bunch of keyboard shortcuts, that I have found to be the most beneficial for speeding up my workflow. It would be crazy to think that you could memorize all of these keyboard shortcuts just from watching this video. I've created a downloadable PDF guide in the Projects and Resources tab below the video. I'm obviously on a Mac, but if you're not, here are some common ways that keyboard shortcuts are different. For instance, when I'm using Command, something like Command Z, you'll need to do Control Z. There's both a Mac and PC version of the keyboard shortcuts guide, so just make sure to grab the version that you need. You can also find a complete list of keyboard shortcuts under Edit Keyboard Shortcuts. Using keyword shortcuts may not seem like a big deal, but once committed to memory, they are definitely faster than going through menus or toggling down layers to find what you need, and saving a second here or there can really add up. Rather than trying to learn a bunch of new keyboard shortcuts at once, I found that it's helpful to just take one or a few related ones, and get in the habit of using those. You could write them down on a sticky note that you put on the side of your computer to remind you. Then once you get into the habit of using those consistently, then choose a few more to learn. Let's start with some of the more obvious keyboard shortcuts, a lot of these are the same for most other programs too. If you aren't already using these keyboard shortcuts, this is a good place to start. Command S for save, is a really important one to know. Command C for copy and Command V for paste, are super useful and you can copy and paste keyframes, layers, all different things. You can even copy and paste keyframes from one layer to another layer. Command D will duplicate a layer, and in the project panel, Command I will let you import files from outside of After Effects. To play back an animation, you can just hit "Spacebar", and you can use Spacebar again to pause. Of course, the most frequently used keyboard shortcut of all, is Command Z for undo. Like we covered before, Command F will let you search in your timeline, and if you have the project panel selected, Command F will bring up the search in the project panel. Let's take a look at some keyboard shortcuts to move around your workspace, the first ones are the Plus and Minus keys to zoom in and out on your tagline. You can also do Command Plus, to zoom into your composition viewer and Command Minus to zoom out. Or alternatively, you can use the Comma to zoom out and the Period to zoom in. If you want to fit your composition to view, you can do Shift and the Slash key to fit it to view, or you can use Option and Shift to fit it to view, up to 200 percent or whatever percentage you have here. You can also hover your mouse and use the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom into a certain area. But since that area is a moving target, you might get a little loss, and in that case, you can just hold down the Spacebar to bring up the Hand Tool, and then drag your composition wherever you need it. You can also do H to get to the Hand Tool, and this will stay on the hand tool so you don't have to hold down any keys. If you want to zoom all the way into your timeline to one frame increments, just hit the "Semicolon key". If you want to make a certain panel full screen, just hover over that panel with your mouse and hit the "Tilde key", and then hit the "Tilde key" again to go back to your normal view. This works for any panel. Now let's check out some keyboard shortcuts for different tools. We've already covered the Hand Tool which is H, that let's you drag your composition viewer around, V is going to be back to the selection tool, Y on the keyboard will bring you to the Pan Behind tool, which lets you move the anchor point for a layer, Q will bring you to the Rectangle tool, and pressing Q again, will bring you to the Rounded Rectangle tool, then the Ellipse tool, the Polygon tool, the Star tool, and back to the Rectangle tool. G on the keyboard will bring you to the Pen tool, and if you press G again, it will bring you to the Feather Mask tool. If you hit "Command T" on the keyboard, it'll bring you to the Text tool where you can just click and start writing text. Let's go over some keyboard shortcuts for more quickly, navigating through out your timeline. This composition I'm using as an example, is a tentacle of one of my jellyfish. Don't be distracted by what's going on in this composition, we just really are looking at the timeline and the keyframes. The first one is if you want to move your playhead to the start of a layer, just hit "I", or if you want to move your playhead to the end of your layer, hit "O". If you want to go to the beginning of your timeline and you have an extended keyword, you can just hit "Home", and if you want to go to the end of your timeline, again with the extended keyboard, hit "End". To go to the beginning of the work area, hit "Shift Home" and to the end of the work area a hit "Shift End". To trim your work area, you just want to use B for beginning and N for end. If you have a composition with a lot of different layers, you can select a layer in your composition viewer and then hit "X" on the keyboard, to scroll it to the top of your timeline for easy access. If you want to move through your timeline frame by frame, you can hit the "Page Up" to go backwards or "Page Down" to go forwards. If you don't have an extended keyboard with Page Up and Page Down, you can also use Command, and the Forward arrow to go forward, or Command and the Backward arrow to go backward. If you want to go in bigger increments, hold down Shift and Command, and this will go in 10 frame increments. [NOISE] Let's take a look at some keyboard shortcuts when working with layers. If you want to rename a layer, just hit "Enter" to rename. This also works within the project panel. To select all of your layers in your timeline, hit "Command A". If you want to split a layer, just do Command Shift D. This is helpful if you want to have the layer parented to another layer at some point, and then later you don't want it to parented or vice versa. The Left Bracket key will move the start of the layer to your playhead, and the Right Bracket key will move the end of your layer to your playhead. If you want to trim a layer do Option and the Left Bracket to trim the beginning of your layer to your playhead, or if you want to trim the end of the layer to your playhead, then do Option and the Right Bracket key. If you want to change the layer order, you can use Command and Left Bracket to bring the layer down, or Command and Right Bracket to bring the layer up. If you want to move the layer all the way to the back, Command Shift, and the Left Bracket will bring it all the way to the bottom. Or if you want to bring the layer all the way to the top, Command Shift and the Right Bracket. If you want to move the anchor point to the center of a layer and you have an extended keyboard, you can do Option Command and the Home button, to center the anchor point in the middle of the layer. Here are some keyboard shortcuts for navigating properties and keyframes. The first set of keyboard shortcuts is to find the transform properties faster than you could by just toggling down. If you hit "P" on the keyboard, it'll bring up the position property, and if you don't have any layer selected, it'll bring up the position property on all layers. Or alternatively, if you just want to see the position property of one or a few layers, then just have those ones selected and hit "P", and that goes for all of these other transform shortcuts too. S is going to be scale, R is going to be rotation, T is opacity, and A is the anchor points. If you want to see all of your keyframes, just hit "U" on the keyboard, and if you want to close all those layers back up, then hit "U" again. If you want to see any effects applied to layers, then just hit the "E" key. If you have the layer that's opened up like this and has a bunch of different keyframes, but you only want to see the keyframes of one specific property, you can select that property and then just double-tap the S key. If you've clicked U on the keyboard to see all of your keyframes, but you actually only want to see some of them, you can hide the properties that you don't want to see by hitting "Option" and "Shift" and clicking on the "Property". If you want to add a property to the view, you can use those transform keyboard shortcuts, plus the Shift key. Say that I also wanted to see the position property, I could do Shift P and that'll add the position property to View. If you want to move your playhead from one keyframe to the next, hitting "K" will go forward to the next keyframe, and hitting "J" will go back to the previous keyframe. If you want to apply Easy Ease to keyframes, just select them, one or multiple and hit "F9", and keep in mind that on a Mac you're going to have to press the "Fn" key as well as F9. 9. Understand After Effects: If you're working as part of a team, having an understanding of who you're working with and how they work can go a long way. Well, the same is true for working in After Effects. This is not the most glamorous topic, but it is useful for working more efficiently. Let's start with a simple distinction. Preview versus render. Preview is when you hit Spacebar and watch your animation inside of After Effects. Rendering is when you export your animation into a file like a .MOV or .MP4, that can be viewed outside of After Effects. What gets confusing is that anytime After Effects prepares a frame of animation for human eyes to see, it's called rendering. After Effects is rendering frames, whether that's a preview inside of After Effects or in order to export an animation to play outside of After Effects. I'll try to be extra clear about what I mean that you are choosing to render an animation, meaning export it, versus when you are choosing to preview an animation and After Effects has to do some behind the scenes rendering in order to show you the animation inside the program. When you press "Play" to view an animation inside of After Effects, it stores the frames at renders in RAM preview. You can tell that your animation has been rendered in RAM preview by the green bar at the top of your timeline. You've also probably noticed that your animation doesn't play back in real-time until there's that green bar. After Effects will also store some of that recent data in what's called disk cache, so that when you need to read it again, it can do so more quickly. This is indicated by the blue bar on your timeline. You can think of RAM preview as short-term memory and disk cache as long-term memory. A common misconception is that clearing your disk cache will speed up After Effects. But actually this system of caching frames for quicker access later is working in your favor. This system makes it faster to get a real-time playback of your animation. When you close out of After Effects, any RAM preview data will be cleared, but disk cache data will remain stored on your hard drive. Clearing disk cache will free up space on your hard drive, but it won't necessarily speed up After Effects. Also, if After Effects is acting uncharacteristically slow, you could give clearing memory, meaning RAM preview and disk cache a try. Maybe something in there got a little messed up and is slowing things down. Also, don't be alarmed by how much space disk cache is using, the more space you're able to allow disk cache to use, the more frames it can store, so the more frames are ready for playback when you want to watch your animation. When disk cache is full, After Effects will automatically replace old frames with newer ones. There's nothing that you need to do for this process. New in After Effects 2022, or otherwise known as Version 22, if After Effects sits idle, meaning that you pause for eight seconds, it will automatically start rendering frames for preview so that when you decide to press "Play", it will be more ready to play back in real-time. You should start to see this green bar expanding without you having to do anything, except for nothing. You can change the amount of time until After Effects starts this caching process under After Effects, Preferences, Previews. You can change where it starts from and to what extent it goes. Also, new in the 2022 release of After Effects is multi-frame rendering, or MFR. This essentially means that After Effects will utilize more of your computer's power and should be significantly faster than earlier versions. Multi-frame rendering should be on by default if you're using the most up-to-date version, but you can check under After Effects, Preferences, Memory, and Performance. Since After Effects now has a greater ability to utilize all the power of your computer, you can choose how much you want to save for other applications. Obviously, the more power you give After Effects, the faster your previews and renders will be. If you want to read more about this stuff, I've left links in the Projects and Resources tab. If you're thinking of purchasing a new computer, I'd highly recommend doing a bit of research to figure out the specs to look for to get the best machine for your budget. 10. Speed Up After Effects: [MUSIC] In this video, I'll go over some simple things you can do to make previous ready quicker and just for general faster performance in After Effects. This list is roughly in the order of steps that I take when I start to get impatient. The first step is just to make sure you're on the most up-to-date version of After Effects. In the 2022 release of After Effects, there was a big new change that should make After Effects faster no matter what computer you have plus a new feature called composition profiler gives you more info about how long specific frames, layers, effects, masks, and compositions take to render. When you know what is slowing things down, you can use some of the upcoming tips to speed things up. First let's just take a look at composition profiler. As long as you're on an updated version of After Effects, you should see this frame render time in the bottom of your timeline. This frame is taking 27 milliseconds to render. If you click on this little snail icon right here, you can see how long it takes each layer to render. The times for all of these layers should add up to the total time at the bottom. This is going to be slightly different for each frame depending on what's going on in the animation. If there's a little asterisks next to one of the numbers, that just means that all or part of this layer has been cached. So this time is the time it takes to render out anything additional that's needed and to retrieve that cache. I added this glow effect on the inner part of the body here just to show you that you can see how long different effects are taking to render. This is taking an additional four milliseconds to render and this 13 milliseconds is the total time to render for this entire body composition for this frame right here. Tip Number 2 is to bring the resolution down from full to one of these lower options. This should reduce the render time so that you can preview your animation without having to wait as long for it to be ready. It'll also make your preview pixelated, but this is only the preview. When you export your final animation, it'll always export in full resolution so you don't have to worry about going back and changing this drop-down. Also notice that you have an option for the resolution over in the preview panel. I usually just leave this one on auto. This resolution is for the resolution, once you hit the Space bar to preview your animation, this will be the resolution. If it's set to auto, it'll just match whatever is set right here. This one is for the still frame. It's going to be quarter resolution on this still frame and any other still frame that I choose. If you wanted the still frames to be a higher resolution like full but then you know that your previewed animation is going to take a long time to preview, you could set the resolution over here to something lower. That way when you hit play, it's going to play back a little bit pixelated, but when you hit pause, it'll clear up again. You can also use this button right here to turn on adaptive resolution. This will just make your quality of your preview even worse, but should be faster. Just note that these render times are not going to be as accurate with this turned on. Honestly, this really drives me crazy because sometimes it makes it really pixelated and hard to see when you're actually working, so I don't use this option. Another thing you can do to speed up your performance is to make sure that you're previewing at a 100 percent or less because scaling up will slow down after effects a bit. Tip Number 3 is to solo the layer that you're wanting to focus on. If I wish just animating this fish swimming across the scene, I can just hit the little solo button. Not only does that focus in on what I want to work on, it also helps After effects speed up because it only has to render out this for me to preview, not everything else. Another option would just be to turn off the visibility on layers that you don't need. Now keep in mind that you need to turn this back to the way that you want it for your final export before you actually go and export. Tip Number 4 is to trim your layers to only the length that you need. Better yet, use those shortcuts to do it. If you have nested compositions, you should trim the inner composition to only the size as in the width and height that you need. This is the case even if the extra area is just transparent. It may not seem like this will make a big difference, but After Effects doesn't know that this area is transparent until it goes through and looks at each pixel to create the image to display to you. If you crop your composition to only the size you need, there will be less pixels for After Effects to have to go through and render. Tip Number 5 is to use the region of interest. Just click this little button here and then you can drag out a little box over whatever you need to be previewing. This is just for a temporary preview. But if After Effects is running really slow because you have a really complex scene, this can be helpful to preview something in full quality, say, just to make sure that everything's looking good. Then you can always deselect this and go back to quarter quality just to get the whole scene and view again. Tip Number 6 is to trim your work area to only the area that you need to preview. Just use the B and N keys to trim your work area. That way After effects will only have to think about RAM previewing and caching this area, which will speed it up. Tip Number 7 is to temporarily turn off any effects that are taking a long time to render. For instance, this wave warp on the seaweed here is taking 91 milliseconds to render. If I turn that off, now this layer is taking about half the time to render. So I could just temporarily turn off the wave warp effect and then before I want to export my final animation I could turn it back on. Another thing that you can temporarily turn off for faster previews and performance is motion blur. When you set motion blur, you have to set it on each layer that you want motion blur to be on and you also have to turn it on here. So blue is on. This is not giving me the greatest example because it's already cached. This sort actually isn't taking very long to render this layer with motion blur. But if you turn off motion blur, which you can do by just turning this off and that'll turn it off for the entire composition, you can see that it does speed up the render time. Then before you go to export your final animation, just make sure that you turn back on motion blur here. This tip also goes for things like depth of field and textures. If you can temporarily turn it off, it'll improve your performance. Then just remember to turn it back on before you export your final animation. Also continuously rasterized will take a bit more time to render, but sometimes continuously rasterize will compress your layers in ways that you may or may not expect. So just make sure that you're being aware that if you turn it off, it's not like changing the look. That's just something to keep in mind. Tip Number 8 is to use adjustment layers rather than applying the same effect to multiple layers. For example, say I wanted to add a blur effect to all the layers of this jellyfish, maybe to make it look like it's in the background or something. Rather than applying the blur effect to each individual layer, it will be faster to render if I use an adjustment layer and apply the blur effect to that. Remember, adjustment layers affect all the layers below them. This may not always work out for what you're trying to accomplish. But if you can, it will render faster to apply an effect to an adjustment layer rather than the same effect to multiple layers. A bonus of using adjustment layers is that it's faster for you to just turn off the visibility of the adjustment layer to disable the effect, maybe to make the preview run faster or just to see what it looks like without the effect. Tip number 9 is to close any other programs just so that your computer has less overall work to do. You can also check Force Quit if you're on a Mac and just check if anything in here you expected to be closed, but it's actually open. That might mean that it's stuck and force quitting will make your computer go a little bit faster. Also, if you have a bunch of panels open and after-effects that you don't need, closing those out should make After Effects run faster because there's less for it to think about. Tip number 10 is to delete any assets in your Project panel that you're not actually using for your project. Because all of the extra information can be bogging After Effects down. Tip number 11 is to increase the number of skips in your preview panel. This means that After Effects will skip frames so you can choose one, two or five frames to skip when previewing and that way it just has less frames to render out, to show you. You can see that my timeline is already all green. It's already rendered, all of those frames and they're ready for me to view. But you can see that when I press Play, it is only showing me every five frames and this just makes the animation look a bit choppy. But when I export my final animation, it's always going to export all the frames, so this is just for the sake of getting your preview ready to see faster. Tip number 12 is to only preview what you need. If you don't need to hear your audio, you can turn it off or if you don't need to see the visuals and you just want to hear the audio, you can turn off the video. Tip Number 13 has to do with the color channel. If you click here, you can open up the color settings. Right now this project is set for 16 bits per channel. You also have the option to go down to eight or go up to 32. What the color depth or bit depth means, is it's the number of bits per channel used to represent the color of a pixel. The more bits for each RGB channel, red, green, and blue, the more colors each pixel can represent. Basically, the higher the color depth, the more color information in your projects, so the higher-quality, but the slower the render time. One reason why you might want to bump your bits per channel up from eight, is if you have a lot of gradients in your project because they'll look better with more color information. You could set your color depth to eight bits per channel while you're working and then right before you go to render out your final project, then just bump this up to 16, for example. Tip number 14 is to make your artwork as big as you need it to be, but not any extra big. This is especially important for raster images, so things from Photoshop or photos like JPEGs or PNGs. When you're working with raster images, you have the option to choose the resolution of your image. This image is 72 pixels per inch. In After Effects, that looks like this, and it takes 444 milliseconds to load. Now by contrast, if I have the same image but it's 300 pixels or dots per inch, it's going to display much bigger dimensions wise and it also takes much longer to render. For a video, dots or pixels per inch are really irrelevant. It's really just for printing that those numbers mean anything. In working with raster images, it's best just to use 72 dots per inch. Because really when you set something to 300 dots per inch or something bigger than 72, all it's doing is resizing your image. If you were to counter that by resizing the image like dimensions wise to yourself, it'll be about the same. This one is, I just took it's 300 DPI, but I shrunk it down to the same size. Obviously, you can see that with the look of it between this one and my 72 dots per inch one. It's basically pretty similar render time. By rule of thumb, I think it'd be easier just to work in 72 dots per inch for any raster images that you're going to use in After Effects. Tip Number 15 is to make sure that you're allocating enough memory for After Effects. To do this, you go to After Effects, Preferences, and then memory and performance. Remember that After Effects is using memory to store rendered frames of your animation so that it's ready to play back when you hit the play button. You can increase the amount of memory or RAM for After Effects by decreasing the amount of reserved RAM for other applications. After Effects shares memory with these other applications. If you can close one of these that you have opened while working in After Effects, then After Effects will have more memory to work with. Tip number 16 is to just do a general cleanup of your computer to make sure that your computer is running at its fastest. You could clean off your desktop, back up and delete any files that you aren't using or don't need anymore and also make sure that you have enough storage on your computer. If your computer is really full, then it tends to run a little bit slower. Also, when you're going to delete stuff, consider deleting applications that you no longer use or check if you have multiple versions like the old past years of After Effects or Illustrator or any of those still on your computer, maybe that's something that you could delete. Tip Number 17 is like a last resort kind of thing. If you're having a really hard time previewing your animation or you're rendering it out and it's a huge file size because you're doing something that's super complex, you could consider lowering the frame rate. Especially if you're doing something that's 60 frames or 120 frames per second, that's a lot more information for After Effects to have to deal with than something that's half that like 30 or if you're at 30, maybe even try going down to 15. [BACKGROUND] It is going to change the appearance of your animation, which is why I call this a last resort type of tip. Just keep in mind that if you lower the frame rate, it's going to look a little bit more cartoony, a little bit more choppy than if you're using something way up here like 30, 60 or 120, if After Effects is running really slowly and you think something might be wrong, one thing that you can do is go to Edit, Purge, All Memory and Disk cache. This is just going to clear out all of those rendered frames in RAM preview memory and disk cache memory. If anything in there had gotten corrupt or was just messing things up, it will clear all that out so you can start afresh. This is not necessarily going to speed up your renders at first, because all of that cached data was helping speed up your previews. This will temporarily slow them down. But if there was something in there that was messed up, then eventually you should get back up to speed. If you just want to clear your RAM preview data, closing After Effects will delete all of that. You could also try rebooting your computer if you think something wrong. A good old turn off and turn back on can sometimes do miracles. Also, make sure that After Effects is up to date. Next up I'll explain prerendering, which is another way to speed up previews as well as the final render and I'll also explain how to be more efficient when rendering out those final animation files. 11. Pre-Render Portions: [MUSIC] Pre-rendering is when you export just a portion of your animation. Maybe for a longer animation like something a minute or more, if you have multiple scenes, you could render out just the different scenes on their own, and then stitch them back together to make your final animation. For example, in this project I have three main compositions that make up my final animation, so I'm just going to render out each scene individually. Now I can take my rendered out MOV file and import that back into After Effects, and then with the original composition selected, I can just hold down option while dragging this MOV file down on top of it and that will replace the composition with the rendered out MOV file. The benefit of doing this is that now this section of the animation will be a lot faster to preview and it will speed up this final render of the full animation, and I could repeat this with these other compositions as well. Now the downside of pre-rendering is that I obviously can't go back and edit this MOV file. I would have to go back to the original scene, make any changes that I want to make in here, re-render this out, and then if I render it with the same name, it'll automatically replace here, which will automatically replace this, or you just have to put in your new MOV, if you change the name. When you're pre-rendering scenes, you want to make sure that you're using a really high-quality render, so that your final animation will still look nice and sharp. For this, I use Apple ProRes 422. You could also use PNG sequences. I'm just going to bring this to the render queue again. If you click on the Output Module, you can choose PNG Sequence, and if you need an Alpha channel which just means that your background will be transparent, then you can choose RGB + Alpha. This is going to export a series of PNG images that you can import back into your animation. Since it's going to export an image for each frame of your animation, I'd recommend saving it in a subfolder, which is on by default, and then just hit Render. Here are the PNG images that I exported, and now I just want to re-import those into After Effects. I'm going to go Command I for import, and then just select this folder, and then just select the first PNG and make sure that PNG Sequence is turned on, and then just hit Open. Now these will all import together as this little stack, which is basically the same thing as a rendered video, but it's actually a series of images. Now, I can just replace that composition with this. I'll just Option and drag it on, and it's essentially the same thing as the MOV file. But the nice thing about using PNG sequences is that it's easier to go back and make a change, which is a part of the animation. If I go back into my composition, say I wanted to make a change to just a small part of this. Maybe right here I want to capitalize glomerulus, so I'm just going to make that quick change, and then all I need to do is render out the frames where that's visible. We'll just start right here, doesn't have to be exact, and we'll just render out till the end. Now I can just trim my work area to the area that I need to re-render, bring this back to the Render Queue, make sure that I have my PNG Sequence. Then under Output too, you want to make sure that it's going to output to the same folder that you originally put your PNG images into and make sure that it's not going to save it in a subfolder, and then just hit Save and then Render. It's going to let you know that you're going to overwrite some files, which is exactly what we want. Once that's finished rendering, if you go back into your file with the PNG sequence imported, you go over to the area where you made the change, you should automatically see the change updated. This is a nice, clean, and easy way to make changes. You don't have to wait for the entire render to happen, you only have to render the frames that the change affected. 12. Render More Efficiently: [MUSIC] In this video, I'm going to go over some tips to make the process of rendering out final animations more efficient. The first tip is to use the keyboard shortcut to send your composition to the Render Queue. The keyword shortcut is going to be Control, Command, and M. That will immediately send it to the Render Queue and open that up, much faster than going up to Composition to Render Queue. [NOISE] You can also add to Media Encoder Queue here or if you wanted to send directly to Media Encoder, you could use the specific keyword truck up for that, which is Option Command M. [NOISE] You can also add multiple compositions to the Render Queue all at once. If you just select them in the Project panel, [NOISE] I'll just select these two, and then do the same keyboard shortcut, Control Command M, it'll bring both of these to the Render Queue. Another thing that can save a ton of time is to set up templates because they can be accessed right here without having to go into the settings and choose all of the things that you need from here, which is already all set up within one template. To create a template next to Output Module, you want to hit this little down arrow and then Make Template. In this window, you can set what the default is for exporting a movie, frame, and so on, and you can make new templates. Let's create a new template down here. I'm going to just hit New and let's choose Apple ProRes 444. I'm going to make this so that it has RGB and Alpha. This way, this will be a high-quality render that also has an Alpha channel meaning that if there's no background it'll just be transparent. Then hit Okay, and then we'll name this [NOISE] and hit Okay. Now if I go down to my dropdown, you can see that high-quality Alpha is a choice. Another thing that's nice about using these templates is that it allows you to change the settings on multiple things that you're rendering out at once. If I want to change these both to let's say Apple ProRes 444, I can do that both at the same time. Once you hit render, if you don't need to see the preview of what's being rendered here, you can hit the Caps Lock button. This turns off the live preview, so this won't keep updating, and it gives After Effects less to do, so it should render out your animation file faster. New in After Effects 2022, you can get notifications on your phone when After Effects is done rendering. That way you can step away from your computer and know when things are finished, or if you need to keep using After Effects, you can always render in Media Encoder. If you want all the columns or just certain columns to notify you, then you can use these checkboxes, or if you want to receive a notification when everything in your queue is done rendering, then use this check box down here. Also, if you want everything that you add to the Render Queue to automatically be checked on to notify you, then just hit this little settings icon at the very bottom right corner of your screen, and then check this checkbox. To get the notifications on your phone, you're going to need to download the Adobe Creative Cloud app. Then you just need to sign in with your Adobe ID. Then make sure that your notification settings are on, and then you should be able to receive notifications when things are done rendering. If you want to save out just a certain frame of your animation as a still image, you can use Command Option and S to automatically save a PNG and just hit Enter to render. [NOISE] 13. Class Project: Audit Your Workflow: Congrats on making it to the end of this course, but don't go yet. I've gone over a ton of tips in a short amount of time but it will take much longer to fully implement all of these processes into your own workflow. The project for this class is to audit your workflow and make a plan to work more efficiently. What are some things you can take from the class to use in an animation and that you're working on now? Maybe it's a new organizational strategy or some new keyboard shortcuts or maybe it's new knowledge of how to spend less time waiting for previews to play in After Effects. Post a project describing how you're making your workflow more efficient. Feel free to post screenshots or animations too. If you have any of your own time-saving tips, be sure to share those as well. As you work, continuously audit your workflow. Pay attention to things that you do a lot that are repetitive or tedious and look into more efficient methods. Pay attention to the big and small things that slow you down. Don't be too hard on yourself for doing things the hard or slow way the first time around. Learn from these inefficiencies and find new ways to mitigate them in the next project. Animation will always take time, but over time you'll find countless small ways to save a second here or there and that can really add up. To keep leveling up your skills, click on my name above this video to check out the other classes that I'm teaching on Skillshare. Make sure that you're following me on Skillshare, Instagram, and YouTube for more classes in tutorials. Thanks so much for being here. Until next time, happy animating.