i have the mp3 file in after effects as well as the animation I have been working on... a red message shows up in the top right hand corner of AE saying "fps: 24.511/29.97 (NOT realtime)... I cant time it to the music!
Oh, of course you can animate to audio! But here's the thing: you have to do it the way AE LETS you do it, and not the way you WANT to do it. More on that later.
I recommend you check out to Andrew's link. In addition to that, I see a few other fishy tidbits in your words above:
- DON'T USE MP3'S IN AE! Use absolutely NO kind of compressed audio: it's toxic to AE, it always has been, it may continue to be in the future. Convert compressed audio to aiff or wav files, and don't try to use AE to do it -- use a different application.
- If you're working with HD, you may have to temporarily reduce the comp size to 50%, and the resolution to Half. There are dropdowns to do that in the comp window.
- If you don't have AE 10 (aka CS5), the codec(s) of your video file(s) could be causing you grief, especially if it's HDV, H.264, any kind of MPEG or that stinky Flip Cam stuff. Use something like Adobe Media Encoder to convert them to a more AE-friendly codec, like Quicktime's Animation or PNG; they're lossless.
And finally, here's a fine way that AE lets you animate to audio: learn how to scrub audio and use layer markers as timing references on the audio layer. When you scrub audio with the Caps Lock key on, the video won't update, and you can scrub at pretty much any speed you want. Find your spot, and add a layer marker. Go to AE's online Help: it's extremely searchable. Use the search term scrub and the search term layer marker for more info.
And while you're in AE's Help, go look up the section called "Preview Video and Audio".