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Sequence This!

An After Effects quickie By Stephen Schleicher
I get requests every so often on what is the easiest way to edit many layers in the After Effects Timeline to create a sequence. The easiest answer is to use the Sequence Layer assistant. Here is what it is all about.

Sequence Layers can be found under Animation>Keyframe Assistants>Sequence Layers. What it does is take the first layer you select in the Timeline and leaves it at the original position, and takes all subsequent layers you have selected in the Timeline and offset them by the layers duration.

Whats even nicer is Sequence Layers allows you to overlap layers and create dissolves between them if you desire. So the upshot is, if you want to easily create a photomontage all you need to do is set the duration of the images and apply the keyframe assistant.

Lets take a look at how to do a cuts only sequence and an overlap sequence.

For the first mini exercise, well use a series of retro patterns I created sometime ago for the Creative Mac Weekly Download series. What I have done is create a layered Photoshop file with each of these patterns occupying a layer.

You can download the compressed .sit file by clicking here.

Launch Adobe After Effects and press Command+I on the Mac or Control+I on the PC to import footage. Navigate to the Photoshop file you have uncompressed and highlight it in your navigation window.

Instead of opening the file as a single clip, change the Import As setting from Footage to Composition and click on the Open button. This will open the file as a composition.

The minor problem is that the composition is only the size of the largest layer in the Photoshop file (200 x 200 pixels). Lets remedy this.

With the StephensRetro composition selected in the Project Window press Command+K on the Mac or Control+K on the PC to open the Composition settings window. For this exercise use the NTSC DV preset and set the duration to 13:00 seconds and click on the OK button.

Double click on the StephensRetro composition and in the Timeline make sure all layers are visible. Change the Composition Background Color to a light blue (or color of your choice).

Select all of the layers by pressing Command+A or Control+A. Press Command+G or Control+G to bring up the Go To Time window. Enter 1:00 and click OK. Now press Apple+] on the Mac or Alt+] on the PC to set the Outpoint for all of the layers. Now each layer is one second long.

As you can see from the Timeline, the uppermost layer is Layer 13, which is a white flash; we will want this to be the last layer seen. Scroll to the bottom of the Timeline and select the Layer 1 layer and then scroll to the top of the Timeline, hold your Shift key and click on Layer 13. All of the layers are now selected in order.

From the Animation menu select Keyframe Assistants>Sequence Layers. Make sure all of the options are turned off and press OK.

Instantly all of your layers are offset by the duration of each layer (exactly one second each).

Simple huh?

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Related Keywords:after effects, sequence layers, keyframe assistants, schleicher

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