In most cases the bulk of the work you do in After Effects will involve animating/combining graphics that you create in other programs. Your imported files are called "Footage" and can come from a variety of sources (see the Supported File Types
notes). This means that your first step with a new project is usually to import the files you plan to work with.
The import process is handled thorugh the import dialogue, which is similar to a standard "Open file" dialogue. There are several ways to access this:
- From the File Menu choose "File>Import>File..."
- Use the keyboard shortcut Apple-i
- In an empty part of the project window, control-click (right-click on a 2 buttone mouse) and from the contextual menu that pops up choose Import>File...
- Or simply double-click on an empty part of your project window.
Any of these options will bring up the import dialogue box:
As you can see, this is similar to the standard open/save dialogue with a few additional options. The top half is the standard file browser (1) where you can navigate your drive and select the files you want. Files that aren't supported by After Effects will be greyed out in this window.Once you've selected a file there are some options at the bottom. By default you will import files as footage (2) although when working with Photoshop or illustrator files this menu will give you the option of bringing the layers in as a new composition. If you are working with image sequences you can select the first file in the sequence and check the TIFF sequence box (3) - if it's a format other than TIFF this option wil change to reflect that. And if you don't know where your file is you can use the Find button (4) to enter a search term, and the Find Again button to continue searching if the first result isn't what you are looking for. Below that is the Import folder button which will let you bring in an entire folder of files at once (it will be greyed out unless you select a folder in the file browser window.
Once you've selected the file you want to use and made all the choices about how to import it, simply click the Open button to import the files and place them into your project window.
If your file is an image with an alpha channel AE may ask you how to interpret the alpha (this may not happen if the preferences have been set to skip it):
The default setting (and usually the right one) is "Straight - Unmatted". If your file was rendered from a 3D program it may have a premultiplied alpha, meaning the edges of the transparency are blended with the background color. In that case choose the Premultiplied option and change the color to match the images background color(if it's not black). Usually this won't be neccessary - and if you have no idea what type of alpha it is, press the "Guess" button, it's usually pretty accurate. You also have an option here to invert the alpha channel - this will reverse the transparent and visible portions of the image.
In most cases when you are presented with this dialogue you can just click ok to proceed with importing your file. You only need to change these settings if you know your file was created with a premultiplied alpha.
Drag and Drop
Another option for importing footage is to simply drag it from the desktop or a Finder window into your project window. This will import the files you dragged immediately using the default settings.
That's all there is to it - once you've got the files you want to work with into your project you're ready to move on to creating a new composition to work in.