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Importing Files Into After Effects Ep13/48 [Adobe After Effects for Beginners]

January 26, 2020


Hello and welcome to the 13th video in
this beginner’s guide to Adobe After Effects. In this tutorial, I will be
discussing how to import media files and manage them in Adobe After Effects. So up
until this point in the course we have covered some of the fundamentals in
After Effects. This is all in aid to give you some good grounding knowledge of how
things work so you feel comfortable with the software and feel less intimidated
by it. So now we have lots of fundamentals covered it’s now time to
look at how we could use assets and media brought in from other design
programs to create in After Effects. Now After Effects is a really dynamic
program that does not just work by itself. As a designer you will no doubt
be creating files in all sorts of programs, you may create initial artwork
and compositions in Photoshop, you may create logos and illustrations in Adobe
Illustrator and you may even create 3D models in 3D
programs. After Effects allows you to bring in all these files so you can
incorporate them into your video and animation sequences. In this video I’ll
be discussing how to import media from other programs and manage them in After
Effects. So in this video we’ll be covering the following topics: Importing
media falls into After Effects and managing media files in After Effects. So
after this video you will get a better understanding of managing files in
After Effects and how this all works so you will feel much more comfortable
moving forward. So let’s get into it! So here I am in After Effects and I have a
project open here I have prepared earlier demonstrating a document with
lots of different kinds of media content. Now I’m going to use this document to
show how media files could be managed and imported into After Effects. So with
the project folder open, click into the S2 essential practice folder, into folder
13 importing files and open the important files After Effects file and
you’ll have the same document I have open here. Now if you want to follow
along with this video you can open this document i’ve prepared especially for
you, this can be found in the essential practice folder in the project folder.
Now you can download the project folder for a small fee the download link with
instructions is in the description, the download folder comes with lots of
exercise documents we will be using on this course that have been carefully
developed to aid your learning experience. The folder also comes with
document resources such as videos, graphics and images you can use to build
your first video presentation from scratch later on in this course. To get
the full learning experience I recommend you get the project folder, download link
with instructions is in the description. So with the project folder open click
into the S2 essential practice folder, into folder 13 importing files and open
the importing After Effects file and you have the same document I have open
here. So first I want to draw your attention to the project panel over on
the left. As covered in a previous episode all media brought into After
Effects is stored in this panel and it helps to think of this panel like a
links basket. So in this instance, I have organized everything contained in this
project into 2 neat folders, Assets and Comps. So first I’m going to toggle down
the Assets folder, upon click you will see here I have managed this assets
folder into audio, images and video. Here I have categorized the potential media I
may bring into my project. So next I’ll toggle down images, here I have
categorized all the potential image media I may bring into my project. Here I
have a folder for JPEGs, PNGs, Photoshop artwork, Solids and
vectors. So I’ll toggle down JPEG and I’ll toggle down the Aquarium folder and
in here we can see the JPEG files I have in this project. Next I’ll toggle down
the PNG folder, then the fish folder and in here we can see the PNG files I have.
Next I’ll toggle down the PS folder which stands for Photoshop, then in here
I’ll toggle down the British flag folder and in here we can see a lot of
Photoshop files. Next I’ll toggle down the solids folder and in here we can
see I have a white solid. Next I’ll toggle down the vectors folder and in
here we can see I have a few illustrator files. Next I’ll toggle down the video
folder and here we can see two mp4 video files. So I’ll toggle all my image
folders back up like so and next I’ll toggle down the comps folder and in here
we can see I have all my main comps inside. So here you can see how I have
managed the media in my After Effects document. Now this is not done
automatically I had to create this folder structure myself in After Effects.
I find that putting everything in its own folder like this in the project
panel keeps everything organized and in place where I know I can access it fast.
So with that overview of the project panel let’s see how all this media works
in my document. So now I want to draw your attention to
the composition panel in the center of the screen and the timeline panel below.
So this is a composition with what appears to be an aquarium photo scene.
Now if we carefully look in the timeline panel we can see quite a few layers here
making up this image above, each layer has an image icon next to it suggesting
these are image layers, so from the top to bottom we have six PNG layers and a
JPEG at the bottom. If we start to select the fish layers in the timeline we will
see them selected in the composition panel above with the bounding box around.
Now if we press V to activate the selection tool and start to click and
drag the fish around we can see that they are not actually part of the image
these are individual image layers with transparent backgrounds. So if we toggle
the visibility of the fish layers off in the timeline
panel and the coral layer we can see that this composition has an image layer
at the bottom. So now I’ll toggle back the visibility of all the layers above.
So how was this composition created in After Effects? Well all the elements you
see in this composition here were not created in After Effects, these cutout
fish would have been prepared in a program like Photoshop and brought in. So
let’s take a look. So in After Effects if I come down into
the timeline panel, select one of the fish layers and put my mouse cursor over
the fish there I’ll right-click I can select an option called reveal. If I
scroll across and select reveal in finder, for PC I believe this is reveal
in Explorer, upon click, we will see a folder appear showing which file the
artwork is from and where it is located on the computer. Now if you’ve already
downloaded the project folder and are following along with the After Effects
document included you will be taken to the images folder in the project folder
like so. So now we can see on the computer where this image file is
located and we can also see all the other fish cutouts. So let’s take a look
at this file. So I’ll open this fish1.png file in Photoshop. Now to follow
along with this video it would help if you already have Photoshop installed on
your computer, I’ll be jumping into Photoshop during the course of this
video to explain a few things, though if you don’t have Photoshop installed don’t
worry too much, you can still follow along and watch. So here we are in
Photoshop and this is the fish artwork file I prepared earlier. Now if you look
over in the layers panel you can see that this is just one layer that has
been cut out and we can see the transparent area around it. So a pretty
simple document, now if I quickly come back to my folder and select all the
other fish layers and open them in Photoshop we can see that these are all
the same, just simple cutouts. Now I’ll jump back into After Effects and I’ll do
the same with the aquarium image, at the bottom if I right click on this layer
and reveal in finder, upon click a folder will open showing me where the image is on
my computer. Now in this instance there are a few other images in this folder, so
I’ll open this aquarium pic 2.jpg in Photoshop and we can see it’s a nice
simple image file, easy! So back in After Effects this is an example of how
an image and some PNG images can work in a composition. So these fish cutouts were
first created in Photoshop and brought into After Effects, when these media
files are brought into After Effects they can be placed very easily as layers
into a composition like this and animated. Now I’ll be showing you later
how this can be done but before that I want to show you the next composition
example. So now I want to draw your attention to the second composition in
my comps folder called Big Ben and I’ll just double click on this to open it. So
next we have a completely different example here, instead of a photographic
style image we have a flat illustration. Now if we carefully look in the timeline
panel we can see quite a few layers here making up this image above. So this time
in the layers panel each layer has an Adobe Illustrator icon next to them and
looking at the layer names we can also see they have a .ai at the end, this
is suggesting these are Adobe Illustrator files. So from top to bottom
we have 6 illustrator layers with a white solid layer at the bottom. If we
start to select the illustrator layers in the timeline we will see them
selected in the composition panel above with the bounding box around them. Now if
we press V to activate the selection tool and start to click and drag the
layers around we can see that there is a layer for each illustration element in
this composition. So if we toggle the visibility of all the illustrator layers
off in the timeline panel we can see that this composition has a white solid
layer at the bottom. So I’ll toggle back the visibility of the illustrator layers
above and press Cmd Z to undo all the movements to put them back in their
original place. So how was this composition created in After Effects? So
all the elements you see in this composition here were not created in
After Effects, these illustrations would have been prepared in Adobe Illustrator
and brought in. So let’s take a look, so I’ll come down into the timeline panel
select the big ben layer and put my mouse cursor over and right
click and select reveal, I’ll scroll across and select reveal in finder, for
PC I believe it’s reveal in Explorer and upon click we will see a folder appear
showing which file the artwork is from and where it is located on the computer,
here we can also see other illustrator files. So let’s take a look at this, so
I’ll open this big bang file in Illustrator, now again it would help if
you already have illustrator installed on your computer, I’ll be jumping into
Illustrator during the course of this video to explain a few things, so if you
don’t have illustrator installed don’t worry too much, you can still follow
along and watch, so here we are in illustrator and this is the Big Ben
artwork I prepared earlier, this is a piece of vector artwork I carefully
created as an asset for this course and if we click on it you can see the
various parts that make up this illustration. So a pretty simple document
and I’ll just jump back into After Effects. So this is an example of how
vector files can work in a composition, these illustrations were first created
in Illustrator and brought into After Effects. When these media files are
brought into After Effects they can be placed very easily as layers into a
composition like this and animated and again I’ll be showing you later how this
can be done, but before that I want to show you the next composition example. So
now I want to draw your attention to the third composition in my comps folder
called Squirrel and I’ll just double click on this to open it. So next we have
a completely different example here, so I’ll make sure to put the time indicator
at the start of the timeline and I’ll press spacebar to activate preview, so
this time we have a simple video file and I’ll press spacebar again to stop,
Now if we carefully look in the timeline panel we can see this time we have one
layer. Looking at the layer we can also see it has a video icon next to it and
it has a .mp4 at the end of the name, this is suggesting that this is a video
file. So how was this composition created in After Effects? Well unlike the other
compositions we just saw this would have been very easy to create,
being a simple video file we can just drag it into a composition, so let’s take
a look, so I’ll come into the timeline panel select the squirrel layer and put
my mouse cursor over and right click and select reveal, I’ll scroll across and
select reveal in finder, Explorer for PC and upon click we will see a folder
appear showing which file the video is from and where it is located on the
computer, here we can also see a bunch of other video files. So a pretty simple
video document and I’ll just jump back into After Effects. So this is an example
of how a video can work in a compositio,n this video would have been shot and
possibly edited and exported in a video editing software and brought into After
Effects, when video files are brought into After Effects they can be placed
very easily as layers into a composition like this and edited. So now I want to draw
your attention to the fourth composition in my comps folder called British flag
and I’ll just double click on this to open it. So this is a composition with
artwork depicting a British flag, now if we carefully look at the timeline panel
we can see quite a few layers here making up this image above, this time
each layer has an Adobe Photoshop icon next to them, this is suggesting these
are Adobe Photoshop files, if we start to select the Photoshop layers in the
timeline we can see them selected in the composition panel above, with the
bounding box around them. Now if we press V to activate the selection tool we can
click and move them around like so. So how is this composition created in After
Effects? So this British flag composition here was not created in After Effects,
this composition was created entirely in Photoshop and brought in, so let’s take a
look. So I’ll come down into the timeline panel select the London layer and put my
mouse cursor over and right click and select reveal, if I scroll across and
select reveal in finder, Explorer for PC, upon click we will see a folder appear
showing which file the artwork is from. so on my computer we can see that the
entire composition is from this one Photoshop file here, So let’s take a look
at this. So I’ll double click there to open in Adobe Photoshop, so here we
are in Photoshop and this is an artwork file I prepared earlier, now if you look
over in the layers panel you can see that this document consists of many
layers and if I toggle the visibility of some of these layers here you can see
that all of the various elements have been created individually and we even
have the type layer at the top. So this document was first created in Photoshop
and brought into After Effects in such a way that it has allowed me to work with
and potentially animate every layer individually. So that is an overview of
how various media types can work in After Effects. Now I’m going to show you
how you can import and manage all the media like this in After Effects and
place them into compositions. So the first thing we should do here is create
a new After Effects document. So I’ll come up to file, new, and hit new project, if it
asks me to save changes, on this occasion I’ll select don’t save. OK, so we are
starting from scratch here, so the first thing I’m going to do is create two new
folders in my project panel. So I’ll hit the new folder icon at the bottom of the
project panel and name this assets, I’ll click off the folder to deselect it and
then I’ll hit the new folder button again and this time call it comps, with
my two folders ready let’s start by creating a composition. So I’ll come up to
composition, hit new composition and with the settings opened i’ll first name it to
comp 1 Aquarium, then I’ll hit the preset drop-down and select HGTV 1080 25,
make sure the dimensions are set to 1920 by 1080, I’ll set the duration to 15
seconds and click OK. Now a new comp will appear in the project panel and I’m
quickly going to drag this into the comps folder and I’ll toggle down my
comps folder so I can see it inside. So with my new composition let’s bring in
some media, so a real easy way to do this is to drag in from a browser window, so
I’ll make sure I can see a browser window on top of After Effects and I’ll
make sure I have the project folder ready. So I’ll start by clicking into the
project assets folder, into images, into the jpg folder, into the location folder,
then into the Aquarium folder and I’ll click on the aquarium pic 2.jpg and drag
it into After Effects, into the project pane,l upon release the image will appear
in my project panel. With the new image I’ll drag that into my timeline panel
and the image will appear in my composition, but right now it’s too big,
so with the layer selected I’ll press S on the keyboard and this will pull up
the scale properties, under the layer. Here I’ll drag the settings down like so,
so it fits the frame nicely and back in my project folder I’ll come back and
click into the PNG folder I’ll click into the fish folder then I’ll click and
drag to select all the PNG files and then drag them straight into the project
panel in After Effects. Upon click they will all appear nice and easy.
OK so now we have some image files in the project panel, next I’ll click on the
new folder icon at the bottom of the project panel and name this images, click
and drag this into the Assets folder and click off to deselect. Next I’ll click on
the new folder icon at the bottom of the project panel and name this JPEG, click
and drag this into the Image folder and click off to deselect. Then I’ll click on
the new folder icon again and name this PNG, click and drag this into the image
folder and click off to deselect. So I’ll toggle down the image folder so I can
see my new folders inside and I’ll click the PNG files and drag them into the PNG
folder and then drag the jpg file into the JPEG folder. So now I can start
dragging in my fresh cutouts into the composition, I’ll click on fresh one and
drag it in like so, if it’s too big I’ll click on the bounding box handle and
click and drag in while holding shift to maintain the scale, I’ll click on fish 2
and drag it in like so, again if it’s too big
I’ll click on a handle on the bounding box and drag in while holding shift to
maintain the scale, I’ll drag in a few other fish and resize until I have a
nice composition like so, next I’ll click on the coral image and drag it in,
So dragging it in, it will appear on top of my other layers, so now I’ll be sure
to click and drag the layer down in the timeline panel like so. So that’s how we
can bring in JPEGs and PNG files let’s look at how we can bring in some vector
files. So let’s start by creating a new composition, so I’ll come up the
composition hit new composition and with the settings open I’ll first name the
comp 2 – Big Ben, then I’ll hit the preset drop-down and select HD TV 1080
25, I’ll make sure the dimensions are set to 1920 by 1080, I’ll set the duration to
15 seconds and click OK. Now a new comp will appear in the project panel and I’m
quickly going to drag this into the comps folder. So with my new composition
let’s bring in some media, so I’ll make sure I can see the browser window on top
of After Effects again and back into my project folder I’ll come back to images,
this time into the AI folder, then into the building’s folder and I’ll click on
the Big Ben .ai and drag it into After Effects into the project panel,
I’ll come back to the folder and this time click and drag the buildings left
file in as well, back in the project folder I’ll come back to the AI folder
then into the objects folder then into the clouds folder and I’ll drag in
clouds 1, 3 & 5. So now we have a new kind of image file. So I’ll hit the new folder
icon at the bottom of the project panel I’ll name this vectors and drag it into
the images folder and next I’ll drag the new illustrator files into this new
vector folder. So right now my composition background is black, so in
the timeline panel over on the left I’ll right-click select new at the top and
hit solid, I’ll make sure the solid is white and the same size of the
composition, 1920 by 1080 and click OK. Upon click we will see a new white solid
layer in the timeline panel and also a new solid folder will appear in the
project panel, so I’ll quickly drag the solids folder into the images folder as
well. So next I’ll click and drag the big-ben
vector into the composition like so. Upon release we will also see the layer
present in a timeline panel but right now it looks too small, so I’ll click on
a handle on the bounding box and click and drag out while holding shift to
maintain the proportions, easy! So next I’ll drag in the building horizon left
vector and again resize it and position this time I’ll press T on the keyboard to reveal the opacity options for the layer. I’ll
drag this down to 20% and I’ll come and click the layer and drag it under Big
Ben, next with the layer selected I’ll press Cmd D on mac or Ctrl D on
PC to duplicate the layer and move it across like so, easy! So next I’ll drag in
clouds one, three and five, if I select the top cloud layer, I’ll press and hold
shift, I can select the bottom cloud layer and with them all selected I can
move them down together under the Big Ben layer like so and if I press T on
the keyboard I can activate the opacity options for each layer at the same time,
then I’ll click and drag on one of the properties down to 30% and that will
apply it to them all. Next I’ll press Cmd A on Mac or Ctrl A on PC to
select all the layers, then press U to collapse the layer properties so I can
see just the layer bars in the timeline panel. Next I’ll scale up each cloud
using the same technique as earlier, I’ll select the layer to see the handles, I’ll
click on a handle and drag out while holding shift to maintain the
proportions and reposition like so. Now I’ll just toggle up all the image
folders in the project panel as I don’t need to see them right now. So that’s how
we can bring in vector files, let’s look at how we can bring in some video files.
So let’s start by creating a new composition. So I’ll come up to
composition, hit new composition, with the setting open at the top I’ll first name
the comp 3 – Squirrel then I’ll hit the preset drop-down and select hdtv 1080 25,
I’ll make sure the dimensions are set to 1920 by 1080 the duration is set to 15
seconds and click OK. A new comp will appear in the project
panel and I’m quickly going to drag this into the comps folder. So with my new
composition let’s bring in some video. So I’ll make sure I can see a browser
window on top of After Effects and back in my project folder I’ll come back into
the project assets folder, this time into the video folder then into the Hyde Park
folder, then into the wildlife folder and i’ll click on the Squirrel mp4 and drag
it into After Effects, into the project panel. So
now we have a new kind of file, so I’ll hit the new folder icon at the bottom of
the project panel, I’ll name this video and drag it into the assets folder and
now drag the new video file into the video folder, easy! So right now my
composition background is black but that doesn’t matter because now I’m going to
drag my video into the timeline like so to fill the frame,
upon release we will also see the layer present in the timeline panel, so
importing and placing video is really easy, let’s now look at the last example
how we can bring in a Photoshop composition. So this is now slightly
different than before, earlier we created a new composition ready to place in our
media, so this time I’m going to come into the project panel and double click
into the empty space below the folders, upon click this will bring up a search
window asking what we want to place into After Effects.
So I’ll navigate to the project folder, into the project assets folder, into the
images folder, into the PS folder and I’ll click on the British flag PSD and
click OK. Now upon click you will see a menu box open, this is asking how you
would like to import the file, now because After Effects recognizes this
file as a Photoshop file with lots of layers inside here you will have some
options to select. Now we want this file to be placed into After Effecs with the
option to access each layer, so we will need to click on the drop down for
import kind, select composition – retain layer sizes, for this layer option make
sure you have editable layer selected and click OK. Now upon click you will see
a new composition appear in the project panel. So first I am quickly going to
drag this into the comps folder, with it selected I’ll press ENTER on the
keyboard to rename the comp and in this instance I’ll just put a 4 – before the
name. Now I’ll double click on the new comp to open it. so here we are and we
can see Affter Effects has generated our composition, if we look on each layer we
can see we have each segment as an individual layer, perfect! What you may
also notice is this is that as well as the individual
colored shapes that make up this flag, we also have a type layer at the top, right
now this is just a static type layer like the rest, now this layer was created
in the Photoshop artwork created outside After Effects but what if we wanted to
edit this type, change the size or the typeface perhaps? Well After Effects
recognizes this is a type layer, with the type layer selected if we right-click
and select create, then scroll across and click convert, an editable type upon
click we will see the type layer change from the Photoshop icon to a type icon.
Now we can double click on this type layer and edit, easy! So this is one
example of how flexible After Effects can be with imported files. Now if we
look over in the project panel, we will now see a new folder called British flag
layers, if we toggle this down we can see we have some Photoshop layers, so now we
have a new kind of file, so I’ll click off the folder to deselect and I’ll hit
the new folder icon at the bottom of the project panel, I’ll name this PS artwork
and drag it into the images folder. Now I’ll click the British flag layers
folder and drag it into the PS artwork folder, easy! So that is how to import
artwork assets prepared in other programs in After Effects. Now there is
one more thing you should really know about, as well as importing files from
illustrator and Photoshop you can actually import other After Effects
projects you have worked on into your document. Now let’s say you have spent a
lot of time working on one particular After Effects project and then you
realize you want to get some work you have done in another document in After
Effects, it’s not particularly easy to copy
content from one After Effects document into another, so what we can do is simply
import an After Effects document into another to access all the work. So let’s
see how this works, so I’ll come over to the project panel and double click into
the grey space, upon click we will get the browser asking us to navigate to the
file we want to import, so I’ll navigate to the project folder click into the S2
essential practice folder, into folder 13 importing files and here
we have another After Effects document called under-the-sea,
this is a document I have prepared earlier that has the same structure and
similar contents to what we have just created here. So I’ll click on that and
click open, upon click we will now see a under-the-sea folder in the project
panel and if we toggle is folded down, inside we will see the same folders as
we have just created in this file, in the assets folder we will have images and
videos and in a comps folder we will have comps created in a previous file,
which we can now open and integrate into this project. So keep in mind if you ever
have multiple After Effects files and want to bring them into one, you can
easily import After Effects files into other After Effects files like this. So
that is a brief introduction on how to import various media into After Effects,
how to manage, organize and place them into your compositions. Now we are going
to be doing more and more of this as we move on and progress in this course, so
it’s important to emphasize to you as a beginner in After Effects how important
it is to organize your media well, in your project panel with folders. So now
we have covered how to create using media brought into After Effects, let’s
look at a way we can be creative in After Effects. As you create your video
sequences you will also find yourself using shape elements created in After
Effects. Now there are lots of reasons you would build shapes in After Effects,
shapes can be used to add visual elements to your composition, they can
give us a basis to build our artwork and they can be used to create masks which
we will be learning about later at the course. In the next video we are going to look at how we can create and use shapes in After Effects. So see you in the next video!

3 Comments

  • Reply Gareth David Studio August 22, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    To get the full learning experience and follow along:

    Get the FREE PDF course index and the downloadable project folder from the course overview video here:
    https://youtu.be/uRdfvpQ5rcQ

    Enjoy!

  • Reply michał botor August 28, 2019 at 9:38 am

    thank you, you're amazing. 🙂

  • Reply elakhdar ayoub November 20, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    I was wondering what if the adobe programs are not the same version as AE, can I still import these files to it ??

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