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Chapter 15. Complex Projects

Chapter 15. Complex Projects

As your projects become more ambitious, their structures will grow increasingly complex as well. A typical project contains not only layers created from individual footage items but also layers created from other compositions—called nested compositions. In this chapter you'll find out how to employ nesting to group layers into a single element as well as to manipulate a project's hierarchy to create effects you couldn't otherwise achieve.

With After Effects 5 come additional features that that will help you create complex projects without resorting to complicated procedures. The new Parenting feature, for example, makes it possible to create a hierarchical relationship between a “parent” layer and any number of “child” layers—thus allowing you to link or group layers so that they behave as a single system.

Using another powerful new feature—Expressions—you can now create relationships between layer properties (in the same layer, in different layers, even in layers contained within different compositions). This means that rather than keyframing multiple properties independently, you can link one property's values to another property's values using a JavaScript-based mathematical relationship, or expression. (Don't worry: This chapter also provides the JavaScript basics you'll need to feel confident about working with expressions.)

Finally, this chapter provides the lowdown on render order, After Effects' hierarchical scheme for rendering frames. You'll learn how render order influences your results, as well as how you can influence render order. You'll also find out how to inspect your work using the Flowchart view, as well as how to reduce render and preview time via a process called prerendering.


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