Adobe After Effects is a complex software and we ourselves make it more complex. All we want is to create Visual Effects as soon as possible so we never bother to manage or organize our workflow. Though it can save you some time but makes it difficult for the other artist to understand that project especially if you work in a team.
There are few possible ways or methods you can use to organize your Adobe After Effects projects so that it looks clean, less messy and easy to understand.
Create Separate Folders for your Files under Project Panel
Whenever you look at your After Effects Workflow, you will find that most the files are under Project Panel. It contains all the Videos, Audios, Photographs, Compositions which we use while working on our project. So, organizing it in separate folders can make your project look neat and it will be easy for you to find those files since they are sorted out according to their file types, categories or whatever method you choose.
For example, If i am working on a Music Video, my two main data sources are Videos and Audios. So, i can create a two separate folders inside the Project Panel and name them as Video and Audio and then import my Videos and Audio in them respectively.
To create a New Folder, simply right click with your mouse inside the Project Panel and click on New Folder or choose File > New > New Folder. Adobe After Effects allows you to run custom Scripts, you can also use the Folder Setup Script to automatically create folders under Project Panel.
Create Low-Resolution Proxies of your High Quality Footage
Any file used to temporarily replace a footage item, but most often a lower-resolution or still version of an existing footage item used to replace the original. Often, storyboard images are used as proxies. You can use a proxy either before you have the final footage or when you have the actual footage item but you want to speed up previewing or rendering of test movies. You must have a file available to use as a proxy.
Any masks, attributes, expressions, effects, and keyframes that you apply to the layer are retained when you replace its placeholder or proxy with the final footage item.
In the Project panel, After Effects marks the footage name to indicate whether the actual footage item or its proxy is currently in use:
- A filled box indicates that a proxy item is currently in use throughout the project. The name of the proxy appears in bold type at the top of the Project panel when the footage item is selected.
- An empty box indicates that the footage item is in use throughout the project, though a proxy has been assigned.
- No box indicates that no proxy is assigned to the footage item.
How to Create a Proxy
Use the Create Proxy command to create a proxy from footage or compositions selected in the Project panel or the Timeline panel. This command adds the selected footage to the Render Queue panel and sets the Post-Render Action option to Set Proxy.
- Open a footage item or composition in the Project or Timeline panel.
- Move the current-time indicator in the Footage panel to the frame that you want to use as the proxy still item, or for the poster frame for the movie footage item.
- Choose one of the following commands:
- File > Create Proxy > Still to create a still image proxy.
- File > Create Proxy > Movie to create a moving image proxy.
- Specify a name and output destination for the proxy.
- In the Render Queue panel, specify render settings, and click Render.
Change your Workspace to Minimal
You can change your Workspace to minimal to hide unwanted panels and windows from Adobe After Effects. This will give you some room to work. You can anytime enable the panels you need by going into Window from the top bar and selecting the windows you want to enable. After you are done working with that particular panel or Window, hide it again. It is a simple tip yet it can help you a lot in creating a better workflow.
Use Scripts for Managing Footage Items
Christopher Green provides a script (Project_Items_Renamer.jsx) with which you can rename compositions and footage items selected in the Project panel. You can search and replace text in the names, append characters to the beginning or end of the names, or trim a specified number of characters from the beginning or end of the names.
Lloyd Alvarez provides a script on the After Effects Scripts website with which you can search an After Effects project and replace the file paths for the sources of footage items. This is convenient for swapping out source files, updating a project after moving sources, or updating a project after moving it to a different computer system.