Short of enabling time-stretchin and inputting a fixed value that's just how it works. The bars always represent the full layer duration and you have to trim. You can set in and out points using shortcuts ([ and ] on Englisch versions) or split the layer to facilitate the process.
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It depends. There is no one set solution.
AE defaults to making the duration of STILL IMAGE LAYERS the same length as the composition, and video clips at the length of the clip.
There are a few ways to change the in & out points of any layer. The easiest may be this: go to the point in the comp where you want to set such a point. Highlight the layer. Hit alt-[ for an in-point or alt-] for an out point. On a Mac, the correspoinding keystroke combos are opt-[ and opt].
And if you're asking such a basic question, you really, Really, REALLY need to spend a lot of quality time here. Otherwise you'll get hopelessly lost. AE's very powerful, and as a result, it isn't very intuitive. If you blow off the basics, you won't get anywhere.
Thank you for trying to help me : )
So how would you input a fixed value... I just have vector shapes on each layer, so as a basic example could I set : square: 3 seconds, then circle 4 seconds etc
If not possible, why wouldnt people want that level of accuracy when animating, especially when working to music at a specific duration?
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...why wouldnt people want that level of accuracy when animating, especially when working to music at a specific duration?
Because often people are animating to words or beats in the music. Music is rarely performed with a computer-precise beat and tempo. Musicians aren't robots: they swing the beat sometimes. They use rubato. They change tempo. They change time signatures. As a result, you have to FIND those words and beats. It's not a situation where you can say, "There! I've found the duration of one beat! Now it's easy to find the rest of them!"
If you try it, you will be very disappointed.
Try finding the precise end of a piece of music that fades or ends on a big chord with a ring-out. You'll see that it's trial-and-error: what's the point where it becomes inaudible? It depends on how high your speakers are turned up. You might have them way up, you set an end point for the layer, and then you do a RAM Preview at a more reasonable volume. You might say, "Hey! The music ends before the layer ends!"... but you KNOW you set the layer's out point when the audio file goes silent.
AE has layer markers that can be used on an audio layer to mark beats, words, etc. They come in very handy.
I guess it comes down to this: because AE can do so much different stuff, there are very few automated procedures. Oh, Adobe tries with effects that convert audio levels to keyframes, but they're not 100% reliable... especially on something like a capella choral works. For true accuracy, you need find the timings yourself.
If you want something simpler, try a different application. But be prepared for lower level of accuracy.
It's probably not the same as in premiere but this might be of some help.
You can type where you want the playhead to go, by clicking into the gold timecode on the upper left of the keyframing/layer panel; from that point, you can set the start or end point of your layer by typing: option + [ for start or option + ] for end.
Also if you hold shift while you drag in the timeline, elements will snap together. It'll also snap to any markers you place. shift + 1, 2, 3 ,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0.
If you can't see the timecode, drag/expand the panel to become larger.
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Ctrl click where it says "Source Name" at the top of your list of layers. Go to Columns > Duration. You should now see a new column at the right of your layers, with the duration of each listed in blue. Click on the Duration time for the layer in question and a Time Stretch dialog box will appear. You can set the New Duration in this box, in a similar way to the method you described in Premiere Pro. It's not that easy to find, but very useful – especially when cutting to music created electronically with a fixed tempo. Hope this helps!
Very helpful! Thanks!
May also read: "Layer Name". Click it and it will change to "Source Name" as Williams says, but CTRL click brings up the menu regardless, exposing "Columns" option.