Use this document to learn about Projects types in After Effects
An After Effects project is a single file that stores compositions and references to all the source files used by footage items in that project. Compositions are collections of layers. Many layers use footage items (such as movies or still images) as a source, though some layers—such as shape layers and text layers—contain graphics that you create within After Effects.
A project file has the filename extension .aep or .aepx. A project file with the .aep filename extension is a binary project file. A project file with the .aepx filename extension is a text-based XML project file.
The name of the current project appears at the top of the application window.
A template project file has the filename extension .aet. (See Template projects and example projects.)
Text-based XML project files contain some project information as hexadecimal-encoded binary data, but much of the information is exposed as human-readable text in string elements. You can open an XML project file in a text editor and edit some details of the project without opening the project in After Effects. You can even write scripts that modify project information in XML project files as part of an automated workflow.
Elements of a project that you can modify in an XML project file:
Marker attributes, including comments, chapter point parameters, and cue point parameters
File paths of source footage items, including proxies
Composition, footage item, layer, and folder names and comments
Footage item names are exposed in string elements in XML project files only if the names have been customized. Footage item names derived automatically from the names of source files and solid color names are not exposed in string elements
Some strings, such as workspace and view names, are exposed as human-readable strings, but modifications made to these strings are not respected when After Effects opens the project file.
Do not use the XML project file format as your primary file format. The primary project file format for After Effects is the binary project file (.aep) format. Use the XML project file format to save a copy of a project and as an intermediate format for automation workflows.
To save an XML project (.aepx) file as a binary project (.aep) file, choose File > Save As and enter a filename ending with .aep, without the x. (See Save and backup projects in After Effects.)
When you render a movie and export it to a container format, you can embed a link to the After Effects project in the container file.
To import the project, import the container file, and choose Project from the Import As menu in the Import File dialog box. If the container file contains a link to a project that has been moved, you can browse to locate the project.
Only one project can be open at a time. If you create or open another project file while a project is open, After Effects prompts you to save changes in the open project, and then closes it. After you create a project, you can import footage into the project.
To create a project, choose File > New > New Project.
To open a project, choose File > Open Project, locate the project, and then click Open.
You can also create and open a project from the Start screen.
Jeff Almasol provides a script on his redefinery website that creates and saves a new project for each selected composition in the current project.
A template project is a file with the filename extension .aet. You can create templates based on your projects.
After Effects does not install template projects.
When you open a template project, After Effects creates a new, untitled project based on the template. Saving changes to this new project does not affect the template project.
A great way to see how advanced users use After Effects is to open one of the template projects included with After Effects, open a composition to activate it, and press U or UU to reveal only the animated or modified layer properties. Viewing the animated and modified properties shows you what changes the designer of the template project made to create the template.
Often, the creator of a template project locks layers that are to be left unmodified, and leaves layers to be modified unlocked. It is a convenient way to prevent accidental or inappropriate modifications.
For more sources of After Effects example projects and template projects, see After Effects community resources on the Adobe website.
See this video tutorial by Andrew Devis on the Creative COW website for information about where to find template projects and sample expressions included with After Effects.
You can create a template with your preferred project settings such as color management and folder structure, and use it as a foundation for every new project you create.
To set a template for your new After Effects projects:
The format of the template project can be .aet, .aep, or .aex.
Team Projects is a hosted collaboration service for CC enterprise and CC teams users that enables editors to seamlessly collaborate in the editing workflow in real time. Using Team Projects, editors and motion graphics artists can work simultaneously in shared team projects within Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Adobe Prelude without any additional hardware.
The project updates are securely tracked in the cloud and the source files are saved locally or in lightweight, shared proxies. Team Projects also include deep collaboration features like version control and smart conflict resolution.
For detailed information on how to use Team Projects for your collaborative workflow, see Working simultaneously in shared video projects.
You can convert your Team projects to a local Adobe After Effects Project (.aep). Select Edit > Team Projects > Convert Team Project to Project.
New features in the current version of After Effects that are used in a project are ignored in the project that is saved in the format of the previous version of After Effects.
To save a copy of the project and copies of assets used in the project to a single folder on disk, use the Collect Files command. (See Collect files in one location section for details).
In the flowchart for each project or composition, individual boxes (or tiles) represent each composition, footage item, and layer. Directional arrows represent the relationships between components.
The Flowchart panel shows you only the existing relationships. You cannot use it to change relationships between elements.
Nested compositions and other elements that make up the composition appear when you expand a composition tile.
Mid-gray lines between tiles in the flowchart indicate that the Video or Audio switch for those items is deselected in the Timeline panel. Black or light gray lines indicate that the switch is selected, depending on the Brightness setting in the Appearance preferences.
When you click a composition in the flowchart, it becomes active in the Project panel and the Timeline panel. When you click a layer, it becomes active in the Timeline panel. When you click a footage item, it becomes active in the Project panel.
For tool tips identifying the buttons in the Flowchart panel, let your pointer hover over a button until the tool tip appears.
When you change element properties in the Flowchart panel, be careful to context-click the icon in the tile, not the name of the element. The context menu associated with the element icon is different from the one that opens from the element name.
Rich Young provides additional information about the Flowchart panel and the Composition Mini-flowchart on the After Effects Portal website.