How To Duplicate Composition Within Project In After Effects

To duplicate a composition in After Effects, start by selecting it in the Project Panel and then press Ctrl/Cmnd + D. Ensure nested compositions are also duplicated independently to maintain the autonomy of the main duplicated composition.

September 24, 2023
How To Duplicate Composition Within Project In After Effects
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How To Duplicate Composition In After Effects Without Changing Original

Compositions are the backbone of After Effects, serving as containers for your visual stories. Duplicating them, especially when they house nested compositions, requires a meticulous approach. But fret not, for we're here to guide you through it.

Here's what I talk about in this tutorial;

  • The essence of compositions and their significance in After Effects.
  • The step-by-step process of duplicating compositions.
  • Navigating the intricacies of nested compositions.
  • Organizational tips to streamline your workflow and keep your projects tidy.

1. Selecting the Composition in the Project Panel

This is where it all begins. In After Effects, compositions are like the main folders where all your work resides. To duplicate a composition, you first need to select it. But here's the catch: you should select it in the Project Panel, not in the timeline. Think of the Project Panel as the main library and the timeline as the reading table. You don’t duplicate a book while reading it; you go back to the library shelf. So, head to the Project Panel and click on the composition you want to duplicate.

2. Duplicating the Composition

Once you've selected the composition in the Project Panel, press Ctrl/Cmnd + D. Believe me, it's as simple as that. You'll notice a new composition appears with a number or the word "copy" added to its name. This new composition is like a twin of the original, but they lead separate lives. Any changes you make to one won't affect the other.

3. Handling Nested Compositions

Now, here's where things can get a tad tricky, especially for beginners. You see, sometimes a composition might have other smaller compositions inside it (nested compositions). It's like having a box inside another box. If you've duplicated the outer box, you also need to duplicate the inner one to ensure they remain independent. If you ask me, this is crucial. If you don’t do this, changing the inner box in one will change it in the other. So, if your main composition has these nested ones, make sure to duplicate them too.

4. Organizing Pre-compositions

In a nutshell, when you group layers in your timeline and create a Pre-compose, you're essentially creating a new composition that nests inside your original. It's like taking a few chapters of a book and making a new mini-book out of them. For sure, it's a good practice to keep these mini-books (pre-comps) organized. Place them in a folder in the Project Panel and label it clearly. This way, when you want to duplicate your main composition, you know exactly where to find and duplicate these nested ones. Trust me, a little organization goes a long way.