A good After Effects user always keeps his data organized from the start. Creating dedicated and separate folders for project files, footage’s and other media makes it easy to store the data for future purposes. When done with the project, one can simply transfer that data to the backup drive or folder.
Though, sometimes when the deadline is close and finishing up the project is the top most priority, it’s ok to skip the data organization. Trust me, there are shortcuts to almost anything in After Effects.
In After Effects, under File, there is an option called ‘Collect Files‘. This feature is used to collect all the files of a project in a separate folder for multi-machine rendering. (Rendering a project with 2 or more computers).
Since, After Effects is automatically copying all the files in a folder, why not use this feature for backing up projects.
The hierarchy of folders in the backup will be same as that of your project files. In your project panel, if you create a folder for photos and another one for audio. When you create a backup with ‘Collect Files‘ method, the backup folder will follow the same hierarchy and create a photos and an audio folder.
You can also choose to backup all the files or only those which are actually getting used in the project. Means, you can ignore the files sitting in your project panel but not used in any composition. This helps in keeping the backup clean and small in size.
Creating a Backup
Once you are done with your project and ready to generate a backup, save the project file and go to File > Collect Files.
A popup window will appear where you can select the source files along with some other settings as well.
If you want to backup everything, including the files in project panel but not in any comp, set collect source files to ‘ALL‘, else set it to ‘FOR ALL COMPS‘. It also gives you option to backup selected comps or project file only. At the bottom, you can see the number of files that will be collected along with their estimated size.
You can also add some comment, such as the name of the project or a description. It is an optional feature so you can ignore it as well.
Once done with the settings, click on the COLLECT button. You will be prompted to choose a destination for the backup. Select your preferred drive or folder and hit the save button.