the audio sitting in the larger main composition?
You simply don't do that. You put the audio in its separate pre-comp and then re-use that pre-comp in any other comp you may need it. That way any comp markers will translate to layer markers and give you cues. Same for any other elements - simply create full-length comps and work based off the audio's timing, then only trim those pre-comps in the main comp where you only add the audio for final rendering, removing/ muting it in the pre-comps.
So any smaller piece i'm working on, i make it the same length as the whole, and just trim it in the main comp.
That never would have occurred to me. (mind blown)
As far as the audio goes… does that ever cause problems as you work? Say if i forget to mute the audio in a nested comp, now i'll have it playing in the main comp as well as the nested comp. Or am I over-thinking this? I haven't tried using comp markers or layer markers yet. I've just been listening and looking at the waveforms. I'll have to look into those.
Thank you so much for your response, Mylenium. It's totally the kind of info I was looking or. I truly appreciate it.
I'm just scratching the surface at this point but I still want to get more nimble in the way i approach AE.
This totally helps! Going to try it right now.
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When you create the sub-comps just right-click the audio layer and select "Guide Layer" that will allow you to use that layer to align things, but it won't render - works on video layers as well.
I would make another suggestion. Rather than editing your project in AE by stacking all of the pre-comps up in a main comp it is very often more efficient to do your editing in a NLE like Premiere Pro. AE is not an editing app. Think of a pre-comp as a shot, give it a few extra frames at the head and tail to give yourself some editing options, render the shots (pre-comps) using a suitable production format, and then do your final editing in Premiere Pro. If the audio is critical then do your final audio mix in Premiere Pro. I know that this sounds like a lot more work but once you get the workflow down you'll find that it is way more efficient and that you can get a better project. Your render times for the final product will also be significantly improved. More than 90% of my AE. Comps are a single shot that is under 7 seconds because most of the films I work on have very few shots in them that are longer than 7 seconds. I almost never wait for a render and in most cases I get more work done in a day than two or three of the other folks working on the same project.
Thanks Rick Gerard, based on what little I know, I absolutely agree that AE is not an editor.
If this was an editing question your answer would totally be on point.
The problem with your solution is that in thinking of each pre-comp as a "shot", that means i'm stuck with the timing in each pre-comp. I would be able to control when each "shot" starts and when it ends, and make that start or end point sync with the audio, but everything that happens inside each shot is set in stone. Just like actual footage.
I'm asking about an animation workflow, where I need to still be able to keyframe individual moving objects inside each pre-comp to sync with the main audio. I do appreciate your thoughts though. Thank you so much for your response!
Here's another option. You can take your audio track into Audition and add named markers to the track. When you save the file the names and markers are visible in the audio track.
Also, in older versions of Premiere Pro there was a speech to text option. I still keep an old copy of PPro on one of my systems and run speech analysis all the time when I'm doing explainer videos or dynamic text and graphic animations. This opens up Audition, and if you have a text file of the dialogue, the analysis is almost always perfect. Markers are placed for each word and they show up in AE when you import the audio track.
I then create a new comp foe each sequence that I'm animating and just drag the audio track from the project file to the comp. I use the markers to very quickly set up the layers that need to be animated. Comps are usually limited to one sentence or one phrase. On rare occasions I'll put a whole paragraph in a single comp. Setup time for getting the layers matched to the audio is measured in seconds instead of hours because of the named markers. The J and K keys bring me to the in and out points and I then either apply one of my animation presets, like this one, Dropbox - flyInBounceDropOut.ffx, to the layer, make a couple of adjustments and I'm ready to move to the next animation. This preset takes a layer of any size or scale and any position to the left side of the screen then flys it in, it bounces to a stop and then falls off the screen. I'ts all based on in and out points of the layer. If you do similar kinds of animations all the time I would suggest that you start building a library of animation presets that you can re-use or modify. They will save you hours and hours of fiddling around. I have more than 200 of these 2D and 3D moves in my collection.
If you have a ton of text driven animations to do I would strongly suggest you put some named markers in your audio track and move on from there. Here's a link to the technique in Premiere Pro for speech analysis. http://tv.adobe.com/watch/peachpit-tv-for-video/improving-speech-analysis-with-a-text-file /
There are also other products out there that will do speech analysis and generate markers if you don't want to install the earlier version of PPro.
BTW, every cycle I lobby for returning the Speach Analysys feature to PPro. I'm not getting much support because they say it never worked as they thought it should. All I can say is that it can easily save days of production time if used properly...