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Pro Tip: Trim Compositions Based on In and Out Points

By Ryan Plummer
After Effects

Do you want to take the guessing game out of setting your After Effects composition duration? Let's take a look at a quick and easy way to set the time duration of your After Effects compositions, perfectly.

Working to keep your After Effects projects clean and tidy is no easy feat, and a huge part of that is making sure that your layers are trimmed. After Effects doesn't like looking at your empty layers anymore than you should. It's constantly analyzing and it needs a little guidance.
One of the ways we can help After Effects help us is by keeping our compositions trimmed. So let's dig into a super quick and easy way you can trim compositions by using your in and out points.

How to Trim Composition Duration Based on In and Out Points

Here's how to quickly trim your composition duration in After Effects.

Step 1: Set Your In and Out Points

Keyboard Shortcuts in After Effects:
  • In Point: B
  • Out Point: N
The first step in trimming your composition is to set your in and out points. By setting these points you are telling After Effects to only preview the timeline between the In and Out points. In After Effects you can set an In Point by pressing the 'B' key and an Out Point by pressing the 'N' key.
It's very important to set your In and Out Point before pushing your video into the render queue or Adobe Media Encoder.
By pressing B and N you can establish in and out points in After Effects

Step 2: Trim Comp to Work Area

Keyboard Shortcut in After Effects:
  • Trim Comp to Work Area: CMD+Shift+X
Once you defined the work area go to the top of the program window and click "Composition". From here you'll simply select "Trim Comp to Work Area" and After Effects will trim the time duration of the composition you have selected.
Just like that, you've cleaned up one composition. If this was a pre-comp you've made some simple but great strides in organizing your After Effects composition like a true motion graphics master. This technique can even help your compositions preview and render faster.
After setting your out point use Cmd+Shift+X, your composition duration is set
If you're a keyboard shortcut wizard there's a handy hotkey combination for you. The keyboard shortcut to trim comp to work area in After Effects is CMD + Shift + X. Keeping your hands on the keyboard is one of the best ways you can get faster at working in After Effects.

Want to learn more pro-tips for After Effects?

Check out this awesome list of some of our favorite and most useful After Effects tips.

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