Open pre-comps as Folders / Groups in the timeline
Folders and groups are the same concept—as the already existing "Pre-comp". The thought behind the "Pre-comp" is to “group” a set of layers. Rather than reinventing the wheel and making After Effects more complicated with added new features like groups and folders, we can improve the functionality of the "Pre-comp".
Here is a demonstration of how that would work: https://vimeo.com/137312858
/ = Split Timeline to show pre-comp. Only works when comps are selected.
Christopher Lis commented
Don't agree with the vimeo layout, I think this should just be a folder dropdown similar to XD's grouping mechanism, but this needs to happen either way.
Can we expect this feature in our lifetime? The request was posted in 2018 and any program being developed in 2020 should be able to implement simple folder functionality. Pre-comps are old school and provide for such a bad experience.
I guess it will be Amazing Than Ever since Adobe is implementing this feature for soooo long time.
Johann Malawana commented
Amazing demo, this is exactly what we need, not having this feature yet negatively impacts the workflow.
I agree, there are some minor details which would improve so many workflows in AE but Adobe still isn´t doing anything about it...
Vlad Muffin commented
We all deserve it!
Scotty Kunkel commented
Yes!!! Please AE implement this!
Searching for this I see that people have been asking for this for years, and it's actually shocking that Adobe haven't bothered to add this quite basic yet incredibly useful functionality. Precomping makes so many things absolutely useless - you can't use continuous rasterizations as it ruins the layer orders. Precomps are pretty rubbish, actually. I'm finding that as time goes on, the insistence that After Effects doesn't evolve as a programme really is really more and more frustrating.
grouping by folder is more effective. When layers pre composed they go into new composition and we can't edit contents in our main composition.
Reuben Millmore commented
This feature would be amazing!
Mr Ivanovichh commented
For me is not the problem of going between comps, just add folders for individual comp proyects on the timeline. like Photoshop GROUPS FOLDERS! that would be a game changer for everyone!
Would it be better if you made changes to properties and layer in/out points in a precomp's Timeline while viewing the 'final' comp? We can do this now but there's a lag in Comp updates. Perhaps if performance in this area can be improved to fit user-expectations then that's all that is needed. There could also be positive externalities to be had from finding an engineering solution to this issue.
After Effects needs desperately a grouping or folder system for individual timeline elements.
Hey Sander! I actually did the mockup. Totally agree with your 100 layers comment. I only suggest that the nested layer panel would work better under the related pre-comp, with its independent scroller and timeline controls. Almost like same as yours. But in this scenario there has to be 2 different scrolls for the main timeline though. 1 with the nested timeline scroll and one under it.
Michael Szalapski commented
I would really like to be able to have "ubertwirl" as this sort of feature is often described. Would you want to be able to apply effects to these groups like you can to a precomp?
Anyway, while we wait to see if we get a feature like this, I would recommend that you color-code your layers as if they were in groups. Then, you can right-click on the layer's label color and select all the layers that have that label and click the shy switch. It's a great way to do what you're asking for. (I use the third-party Labels script to make assigning labels really quick (and with custom colors), but you don't have to.)
I see the mockup you made Jan, and it works well if there are only a couple layers. But how would it scale? What if that nested comp had a 100 layers in it!? and another 100 layers already in the main comp... that would make the timeline super long and it would be hard to link the bottom layer to the top layer in the nested comp if they are separated so far.
When you make two separate scroll lists you can scroll to different sections of both comps in one compact view. All the layer names and icons will also stay aligned.
Like MKorkmazel said, you can already do this by placing two timelines above each other. Although 1) That is more work (by shuffling the UI windows around) than going into the comp and back out. 2) The header of the timeline window is tall and wastes space that could be taken up by layers. 3) When you want to open another comp you would have to reposition UI windows every time vs just clicking another comp.
MKorkmazel, that is nice, something like that I'd take immediately! https://imgur.com/a/bjoxU
I'm personally more fan of unfolding groups. When you click on the arrow next to the group it will unfold layers which are in the group. Same as in photoshop. Much faster and easier navigation than it is now with precomps. It could have just organizing function similar effect as hiding layers, but more logic and intuitive to use. Precomps have tons of problems for this purpose, breaks expressions, need to be aware of length, when you extend maincomp need to go in precomps and extend them as well, polluting project window with new precomps, have to jump each time into a comp and don't see how it affect main timeline, have to start using locking panels for it etc. Simple groups is an essential missing tool in AE for better navigation.
When you have big projects and have easily a hundred layers, project become quickly slower to navigate to as you have to scroll through tons of layers. Easy groups as they are in Photoshop or Cinema 4D would be more than welcome. Precomposition doesn't do the jobs as it breaks expression, and created another new object which causes project growing again and again. Simple organizing groups with unfolding functions would be a huge improvement in navigation in projects.
Bran Dougherty-Johnson commented
I've never really cared about this as an AE user, and feel fine jumping from one comp to another, but as implemented here, I wouldn't hate it and could see if being quite useful.
[Deleted User] commented
As another said, this method can kind of already be achieved if you pull the comp out to have two timeline views essentially. You can lock the viewer to the main comp to keep view of that too, but agree there could be a better way to treat comps like folders!