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Since you're already batch-processing them in PS, why not resize them to the comp size - such as a fixed 576 pixels high?
So AE has no facility to auto re size?
You could precompose them all at their original size, and then resize the precomp.
Yes, AE can auto-resize. Here are the keyboard shortcuts to do so:
Scale and reposition selected layers to fit composition
Win: Ctrl+Alt+F Mac: Command+Option+F
Scale and reposition selected layers to fit composition width, preserving image aspect ratio for each layer
Win: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H Mac: Command+Option+Shift+H
Scale and reposition selected layers to fit composition height, preserving image aspect ratio for each layer
Win: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+G Mac: Command+Option+Shift+G
These are all laid out in the manual and live documentation:
But this may actually be an inefficient way to achieve your goal. You've only mentioned the dimensions of your images, not the resolution. If you are resizing images to 7x5 inches @ 300DPI, they will be 2100 x 1500 pixels. That's a lot of pixels in a 720x576 composition, and AE will have to do a lot of number crunching in every frame rendered, causing longer render times. If the images are never bigger than full-frame in your 720x576 composition, it would make sense to adjust their size accordingly in PS first, to reduce the amount of processing required in AE.
Note that you can also just manually resize multiple objects in the normal way. Select all the layers requiring resize and just adjust in the comp preview window normally.
You don't want to use Ctrl+Alt+F for this kind of work ever.... it will distort your images.
In fact you should never use the FIT command. 99.997% of the time it will give you different X and Y scale values which will distort your footage.
Use the other options to fit horizontally or vertically (replace F with H or G).
If you are planning moves on the images then they all must be big enough in pixel dimensions to crop to the desired size in AE when scale is set to 100%. Say you wanted to push in to 1/4 of the image. If the comp is a PAL comp then you need at twice the height of the comp (or 1152 pixels) in height. You set up a batch action in photoshop to make the images the right size, adjust the sharpening (because resizing always softens images) an remove the appropriate amount of detail, I like dust and scratches for this, to keep the interlacing in PAL or NTSC video from wreaking havoc with your renders.
If you simply want to fill the screen horizontally you can use a simple expression. Remember percentages from the 4th grade. What percentage of a foot is 4 inches. Try this expression for scale value of each layer:
x = thisComp.width/widthThe value statement allows you to set keyframes for scale. When the scale keyframe is 100 the image will fill the width of the comp. If you want to fit to height then just change width to height in the expression.
ns = value * x;