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Layer Properties

Last week we learned how to place footage in a composition...but placing footage is just the beginning of working with After Effects. The majority of your work in AE will involve animating that footage, and most animation in After Effects starts with properties . Properties are simply aspects of a layer which can be changed over time. Each layer has a wide variety of properties which you can work with, but to get started there are a few important ones which you will use almost all the time. These properties are called Transform Properties and the ones we want to start off with are:

You can see all the properties available for a layer at once by clicking on the small triangle next to the layer's name in the timeline. This will toggle down all of that layer's properties, and depending on what you have done to the layer there may be far more than we have mentioned here. We'll cover the rest as they become relevant in class.

You can see by toggling the layer properties down in this way that revealing them all at once can take up a lot of space in your timeline. As we start out this isn't a big deal, but as our projects get more complex(or if you are working on a small screen) having all the properties for each layer toggled down isn't a very efficient use of screen space. I highly recommend memorizing the keyboard shortcuts for the properties - when you use a shortcut only one property drops down at once, so you waste much less screen real estate.

The letters in parentheses above are the keyboard shortcuts for accessing each property individually in the timeline. They are fairly easy to remember and probably the most commonly used shortcuts in AE, so it's worth learning them right away. To access any of these properties simply select the layer you want to work with on the timeline and click the shortcut; the property will appear below the layer on the timeline.

Changing A Layer's Properties

Once you have made a property visible on the timeline you can usually change it's current value in several different ways:

Once you know how to change these four properties for a layer you are almost set to begin animating things in your compositions...however, you are missing one crucial thing: A way to record your property changes over time. For that, we use Keyframes