14 Replies Latest reply on Apr 13, 2017 1:12 PM by Roei Tzoref

    beginner questions

    TheOriginal150mph Level 1

      Beginner here


      Bear with me as I try to describe a couple of simple things I can't seem to do in AE, without knowing AE process (or terms)


      1) How to make a graphic/element/source appear in one layer in the Timeline, then disappear, then appear again in the same layer, just further in the Timeline?  A simple ex. would be a rectangle flashing on/off/on. I can't seem to get an element to continue again in the same layer - I can only make a new layer for the second appearance. That can't be right? E.g,  if I wanted the same graphic to flash 4 times, I'd need 4 layers.


      I'd think logically I could copy/paste it, or Option-Drag a copy to a position later in the Timeline in the same layer - like you'd do in Premiere, Flash, Director & others but can't (or thats not how AE works..IDK...).


      2) How to make a short loop repeat throughout a longer composition?  (Eg.a 2 sec. loop/composition of a bouncing cartoon car with spinning tires) that I can then bring into a longer composition and make the car start big and get smaller as it drives away, bouncing all the way. My 2 second animation isn't extendable once placed into my longer composition - AE won't me let extend it beyond 2 secs. I would've guessed once placed in the longer comp. that  I could drag/extend the loop composition as many seconds I wanted and AE would know it should loop continuously while I applied other keyframing to the main comp.


      3) How to swap an element/graphic in a layer with another element/graphic? In project panel I can Replace Footage - there must be a way to swap a layer element too, and retain all the keyframe properties?


      Simplistic beginner explanation pls. thx!

        • 1. Re: beginner questions
          Horshack Level 4

          1. Using opacity keyframes. First keyframe will have opacity at 100%, second keyframe at 0% (invisible), Third keyframe back to 100%, etc... You would use "hold keyframes", which change their value instantly on a frame rather than ramping up in the frames that exist between the two keyframes (otherwise the opacity will go from 0% to 100% progressively over the distance/time between the 0% and 100% keyframes)


          2. The easiest way to make it loop is to copy and paste the layer. A cleaner way to do it is described here: How to Loop an Animation in After Effects CS5 - All


          3. You usually don't swap - you just use a different layer where you want the different element/graphic to begin in time.


          AE is not a program whose basics can be learned by trial and error...at least not learned well. I highly recommend you look to YouTube, online courses (like lynda.com), or books to learn.

          • 2. Re: beginner questions
            TheOriginal150mph Level 1

            Thanks for taking the time to respond.


            I'm disappointed keyframing opacity is the AE method. I actually knew that, just was hoping I was unaware of a better way. It would be WAY easier just to dupe the section to repeat and slide it over in the same layer in the timeline (or at least copy/paste), a split second move in other apps. That would keep the element/graphic the exact length with all keyframes/effects identical. Then you could collapse the effects to save space and still see exactly where the element appears.


            Also swapping in an element on a layer would be very useful for cell-type animation where you do much of the keyframing once and then swap in graphics that are already animated in a graphics program, just need timelining.


            I'm using Adobe Classroom in a Book which is good for learning the lessons the book teaches but not for the original project I'm working on, which may be overly ambitious for a beginner.


            I'd rather use Lynda than this book but I'm in an online class & it's our textbook.

            • 3. Re: beginner questions
              Roei Tzoref Adobe Community Professional

              1. If the intervals of the opacity are the same the whole way through, then you could create only 2 keyframes and use this expression of the opacity property:



              if you want the opacity to change at different places and don't want to use keyframes, you could use other expressions that are driven by markers. this is called "triggering" by markers. this expression for example will change opacity from 0 to 100 at each marker:

              curIndex = thisLayer.marker.nearestKey(time).index;
              curTime = thisLayer.marker.key(curIndex).time;
              curIndex = ( curTime > time ) ? curIndex -1 : curIndex;
              (curIndex % 2 == 1 )? 0 : 100;


              you could save those expressions as presets and use them like effects any time you want.


              2. Other than what Horshack suggested (time remapping a precomp), I can suggest that if the footage is already rendered, you could use the loop feature under interpret footage in the project panel.


              3. To swap and retain all properties you should highlight the layer in the timeline and the layer to replace it in the project window and the use the shortcut ctrl+alt+/ to replace them. Either that or drag the layer from the project window over the layer in the timeline while holding the Alt key as it's on top of it and release to replace.

              • 4. Re: beginner questions
                TheOriginal150mph Level 1

                Appreciate taking the time to reply. Expressions are a bit much to wrap my head around as a novice but I'll explore, as well as your other advice. thanks!

                • 5. Re: beginner questions
                  TheOriginal150mph Level 1

                  Tried "How to Loop an Animation in After Effects CS5 - All."  from above and it's not working.


                  I made a new comp. w/ 1 looping cycle called car+wheelspin. It's 9 frames long, a car graphic w wheels spinning.


                  I made a new comp. called CAR which is 10 seconds/24fps.


                  I added car+wheelspin to CAR, and with car+wheelspin still selected, did Layer > Time > Enable Time Remapping, selected Time Remap. Then went to Animation > Add Expression and typed loop_out("cycle",0) as directed.


                  car+wheelspin comp. extends the full length of the CAR timeline, all 10 seconds,


                  Hit rewind and play.


                  CAR plays the 9 frame car+wheelspin and then continues blank to the end of 10 seconds.


                  I tried again, then again.


                  Any suggestions?

                  • 6. Re: beginner questions
                    Dave LaRonde Level 6

                    Is your wheel layer long enough?

                    • 7. Re: beginner questions
                      Roei Tzoref Adobe Community Professional

                      with precomps you have to do this:

                      1. enable time remapping for the layer (Ctrl+Alt+T). it will create 2 keyframes: the first keyframe at the first frame and the last keyframe one frame after the last frame (that's why it's black)

                      2. go one frame before the last and create a keyframe by clicking on the diamond switch to add a new keyframe

                      3. now set you CTI over the last keyframe, click on the first keyframe - Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl+V)

                      you are copying the first keyframe to be instead of the last one.

                      4. apply the expression:



                      now you have a perfect loop.

                      • 8. Re: beginner questions
                        TheOriginal150mph Level 1

                        Thanks so much for trying to help but I went through step by step and nothing changes. The time remapping in my comp ("1 car") has beginning and ending keyframes like you show but the loop plays once - 9 frames - and stops, and plays again at the end of the 8 sec comp "

                        If someone could be kind enough to look at it to see what's not happening, I put the folder with my aep and associated files (1.6MB) on Google Drive (Ive been active in Adobe forums for years, no funny biz):



                        I'm struggling to make the opening 8 sec. scene of my anti-littering ad and could use guidance on how an AE beginner might approach it. The car, wheels turning, enters from right big and kind of fast, slows to SlowMotion-ish as it reaches center of frame as the guy throws out a cigarette then speeds up and continues left getting smaller while we focus on the bouncing butt.

                        • 9. Re: beginner questions
                          Roei Tzoref Adobe Community Professional

                          the problem occurs because you have not trimmed the precomp. it's not enough to set a workarea, you need to trim the workarea to the duration (right click on the workarea->trim comp to workarea

                          after you do that you will have this:

                          now continue as said before 1.2.3

                          • 10. Re: beginner questions
                            TheOriginal150mph Level 1

                            Awesome...fixed and it works now. Yes trimming the precomp is an unmentioned but critical step in that tute.
                            Thanks Roei. You're my hero!

                            • 11. Re: beginner questions
                              TheOriginal150mph Level 1

                              Another question.


                              My Sc1 CAR comp is looking good but one precomp arm+throw isn't animating in this main comp even though it looks fine in it's initial precomp (arm+throw) as well as in the compiled precomp (car+arm+wheelspin 10sec)


                              I think I've enabled all the loops correctly. Is there a limit on combining precomps?


                              Would very much appreciate a look at my file (1.6MB) to see what I'm overlooking:

                              car_2.zip - Google Drive

                              • 12. Re: beginner questions
                                Roei Tzoref Adobe Community Professional

                                I think I've enabled all the loops correctly. Is there a limit on combining precomps?



                                My Sc1 CAR comp is looking good but one precomp arm+throw isn't animating in this main comp even though it looks fine in it's initial precomp (arm+throw) as well as in the compiled precomp (car+arm+wheelspin 10sec)

                                that's because you are looping a comp that contains a longer duration of an animation inside. it loops a short segment of the animation but does not reach all the animation you have inside. it appears you don't need this loop and probably added an extra step by mistake so just delete the time remapping keyframes.



                                let me recommend on some more training. you mentioned Lynda before, I do use it myself in my own training and teaching. make sure you exhaust Mark Christiansen's CC 2017 Essential course and when you are done, go straight to Chris and Trish Meyer Ae apprentice courses that will dive deep and help you refine your skills in Ae. take your time.


                                other than Lynda, the Adobe Tutorials are great too: After Effects tutorials | Learn how to use After Effects CC

                                • 13. Re: beginner questions
                                  TheOriginal150mph Level 1

                                  Thank you sir!  I'll know to try that next time. Appreciate your explanation and diagrams to help me understand rather than just the fix.


                                  Will def look at your Lynda links.

                                  • 14. Re: beginner questions
                                    Roei Tzoref Adobe Community Professional

                                    You are welcome and good luck.