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Chapter 4. Compositions > Nesting Compositions

Nesting Compositions

To achieve many effects, you must make a composition a layer in another composition—a process called nesting. For example, simply rotating each layer in the composition in Figure 4.63 does not achieve the desired effect. Each layer is rotated around its own anchor point, and betrays the fact that each layer is a separate element. To make the layers appear unified, it would be extremely difficult to adjust each layer individually.

Figure 4.63. Merely rotating each layer in this composition doesn't achieve the desired effect.


As a nested composition, it's possible to rotate the entire composition as a single layer, as in Figure 4.64. As a single layer within another composition, all the elements rotate around a single anchor point. You can use nested compositions to produce complex effects, to control rendering order, or to apply effects to continuously rasterized or collapsed layers. You can always reopen the nested composition. Any changes you make to the original are reflected in the nested layer.

Figure 4.64. Nesting the composition makes it a single layer in another composition. Rotating the nested composition easily achieves the effect.


In the following sections I'll simply show you how to make one composition a layer in another. Chapter 15 revisits nested compositions in more detail.

To make a composition a layer in another composition:

1.
Display the Composition window or Timeline window of the composition that will contain the nested composition.

2.
Drag a composition you want to nest from the Project window to any of the following:

  • Composition window of the target composition

  • Timeline window of the target composition

  • Name or icon of the target composition in the Project window

The composition becomes a layer in the target composition. The composition layer starts at the current time and has the duration of the original composition (Figure 4.65).

Figure 4.65. The nested composition looks and behaves much like any other layer.


To nest one composition in a new one with the same settings:

  • Drag a composition in the Project window to the composition icon at the bottom of the Project window (Figure 4.66).

    Figure 4.66. Drag a composition to the composition icon at the bottom of the Project window to nest it in a new composition with the same settings.


    The composition becomes a layer in a new composition that uses the same composition settings as the nested one.

Tips

  • The default frame rate and resolution of nested compositions depends on the setting you chose in the Advanced panel of the Composition Settings dialog box. You can tell After Effects to preserve the frame rate and resolution of nested comps (see “Nesting Options,” earlier in this chapter).

  • After Effects 5's powerful new Parenting feature allows you to create even more complex relationships between layers than nesting allows. Make sure you use the best technique for the job at hand. See Chapter 15 for more about the new Parenting feature.


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