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Chapter 4. Compositions > The Composition and Timeline Windows

The Composition and Timeline Windows

All of your compositions can be represented in the Composition and Timeline windows, which open automatically whenever you create or open a composition. These two windows furnish you with different ways of looking at a composition and manipulating its layers. In this section, I'll give you an overview of each window, emphasizing how they show layers along with their spatial and temporal relationships.

The Composition Window

The Composition—or Comp—window (Figure 4.41) displays the layers of footage visible at the current frame of a composition. You can use the Comp window to visually preview the way a composition's layers are rendered within the visible frame as well as how those layers are placed outside the frame (in the “pasteboard” area). The Composition window is where you'll find the controls for viewing composition layers (many of which are shared by the Footage and Layer windows) as well as those for setting a composition's current frame and resolution. You can move and scale layers and masks directly in the Comp window, and you can also view information such as layer paths, keyframes, and tangents. After Effects 5 introduces a Region of Interest button (which is also available in the Footage and Layer windows) as well as a Camera View pull-down menu to the Comp window. You can find out more about the Region of Interest in Chapter 8; Chapter 14 covers cameras and other 3D features.

Figure 4.41. The Composition window.


The Timeline Window

The Timeline window (Figure 4.42) graphically represents a composition as layers in a timeline. A vertical line—called the time marker—corresponds to the current frame pictured in the Composition window. In the Timeline window, each layer occupies a row, and they're stacked vertically. (Unlike the “tracks” of many nonlinear editing programs, each row contains only one layer.) The layers that are higher in the stacking order of the Timeline window appear in front of lower layers when viewed in the Composition window. The Timeline window offers more than just an alternative view of the composition; it gives you precise control over virtually every attribute of each layer in a composition.

Figure 4.42. The Timeline window.


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