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mshadis

Easier Way to Insert Content in AE Timeline?

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Often I've got comps in AE that have lots of layers and lots of keyframes. Once a first draft animation is set, I nearly always need to go in and stretch the length of certain sections or I need to insert a new block of text or graphics, etc. But it is a real pain to go in a and work with. Pulling all the layers to the right as well as any keyframes can get tricky. Is there some easier way to do this that I'm missing?

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Here's a few tricks of mine:

 

1. The "u" key will show all the keyframes for selected layers. If you don't know this shortcut already, it's essential when you're retiming stuff. Helps to make sure you don't miss anything.

 

2. Option+Drag (ALT+Drag) the first or last keyframe in a selected set of keyframes to scale uniformly. Use this in combination with "u" to scale all the keyframes you need to scale at once.

 

3. When possible, use opacity (0 / 100) keyframes instead of cutting the layer, so that with a combination of CMD+U and Option Dragging, you can grab the layer in and out point (now opacity keyframes) with similar ease, and you don't have to worry about messing with your layer in/out point separately.

 

4. Plan! Learn to idendify parts of your comp that are subject to change early on. Try to build these sections so that they'll be easier to tweak in the future.

 

5. Watch out for precomps. They make retiming very tricky and time consuming. If you think you're going to need to do a lot of retiming, try to avoid precomps wherever you can. Putting tons of stuff in one comp can get a little unruly too, but after doing this for years, I've learned that it makes revisions much easier.

 

6. Parenting, expressions, etc. Any keyframe that you can avoid making is a keyframe you'll never have to worry about when retiming. Parenting is pretty obvious, but some basic expressions can also save you tons of time.

 

7. Use transitions. Build a few transitions that will serve as hard cuts in your project. If your project is one long continuous comp, the trickle-down effects of retiming something can be devastating.

 

That's all I got!

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You can also select a layer and hit the [ (open bracket) key and that will move that layers in point to wherever the play head is. Closed bracket does it for the out point. Alt+[ will extend the start of the layer to the play head and alt+] wil do the end.

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Thanks for the thoughts. It seems like this is an area that AE could use some improvement in. I'm very solid with manipulating keys, etc, but it often feels clunky when I need to just make an 'easy fix' (clients words, hah!) and insert some new copy or whatever in a complicated comp. Especially one I haven't thought about in weeks (or months!).

 

I'm basically looking for a ripple edit tool for AE. Which doesn't exist as far as I know!

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There is a ripple edit tool of sorts - if you've trimmed your layer to a certain duration, you can click in the semi-transparent parts of the layer and slide your footage in place. The cursor turns into a double-headed arrow when the option is available, if I recall correctly.

 

[EDIT: sorry, I'm pretty much describing a slip edit above, not a ripple edit.]

 

Some keyboard shortcuts that are handy for moving stuff around, off the top of my head:

 

J and K - skip to previous/next keyframe.

I and O - skip to in and out points of your layer respectively.

alt+ [ ] - trim layer to current time indicator

Hold down alt and use the left/right arrow keys to nudge selected keyframes left and right by one frame increments

Hold down alt and shift and use the left right arrow keys to move selected keyframes in 10 frame increments

Hold down alt and use page up and page down to move selected layers by one frame increments

Hold down alt and shift and use page up and page down to move layers by 10 frame increments

 

Probably well-known keyboard shortcuts to many, but thought I'd throw them out there anyway.

Edited by blacker

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Haha that is for sure! Don't want to edit, more like the situation that I'm sure all of you have been in before. Client wants to extend a section of animation by a few seconds, or wants to insert one more graphic between the two that are already there, etc. Doesn't seem that there is an easy way to do it, other than staying organized with comps and limiting pre-comps. Then just pulling and pushing frames and layers around by hand.

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