School of Motion

Using Master Properties in After Effects

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Working with repetitive compositions in After Effects? Save time with Master Properties.

Every year around NAB, Adobe releases a ton of new updates to the Creative Cloud. This year the feature that has us really excited is the brand new Master Properties feature in After Effects. This feature is really handy when working with multiple compositions and it only takes a few minutes to become acquainted.
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Master Properties Tutorial for After Effects

To help you learn how to use this feature, we put together a tutorial on how to use Master Properties in After Effects. The tutorial covers everything from why you would want to use Master Properties to a Master Properties case-study. Hold on to your socks!

Download Master Properties Project File

Want to follow along with the Master Properties tutorial for After Effects? You can download the free project file by hitting the button below. You must have a free student account to access the file. But don’t worry, It’s free!
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Download the Master Properties Project File

Download Project File


What are Master Properties in After Effects?

Master Properties is a feature in Adobe After Effects that allows users to independently change properties inside nested compositions without opening the composition or duplicating the precomposed layers. Changes made using Master Properties do not affect the nested composition.
This allows you to change predefined properties like color, position, source text, and scale without accessing the original compositions. Master Properties will work with an infinite number of compositions, making them great for work with multiple outputs.
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All of these comps are edited from a single pre-comp!
In a nutshell, this feature empowers you to create and edit Essential Graphics Templates inside After Effects.

Why Should I Use Master Properties in After Effects?

Master Properties is a great tool for anyone who has a lot of repetitive compositions in After Effects. Notable uses could include:
  • Lower Thirds
  • Style Alternates
  • Multi-Language Ad Campaigns
  • Projects with Repeated Precomps
  • UI/UX Design
  • Real World Mockups
Master Properties is a great tool for MoGraph artists who collaborate on projects with other MoGraph artists. Specifically, if you work in an environment where you need to create branded templates, Master Properties can be a great way to hand-off work to other artists.
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Create multi-language alternates with ease. Erstellen Sie mehrsprachige Alternativen mit Leichtigkeit. Cree idiomas múltiples alternativos con facilidad.
Imagine if you worked on a TV show and you had to create lower thirds for each new episode. Instead of having to duplicate your lower comp again and again you can use Master Properties to update text, change colors, and make pre-defined changes without having to adjust your original composition.
This should also be the end of complex After Effects templates with strange effect controller layers. No more ‘Edit Me’ Adjustment Layers!

How to Use Master Properties in After Effects

If you’ve worked with the essential graphics panel then you already know how to use Master Properties in After Effects (you just don’t realize it). Here’s how to setup and use a Master Properties project in After Effects.

Step 1: Open the Essential Graphics Panel

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After you’ve created your ‘Master Composition’ navigate to Window>Essential Graphics. This will open up the Essential Graphics Panel in After Effects. No need to name your Master Property, unless you want to create an Essential Graphic Template to edit in Premiere Pro later.

Step 2: Define Your Master Properties

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Click ‘Solo Supported Properties’ in the Essential Graphics Panel. This will show you every property that can be edited using the Master Properties tool. Now all you have to do is drag and drop your properties to the Essential Graphics Panel. You can rename your properties as it makes sense for your composition.

Step 3: Nest Your Composition

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Once you’ve defined your Master Properties it’s time to nest your composition. The easiest way to do this is to drag and drop your Master Composition from the project panel to the ‘New Composition’ button. This will create a new composition with your Master Comp inside.

Step 4: Adjust Your Master Properties As Needed

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Now comes the fun part.
Select your Master Comp in your timeline and click the dropdown menu. You’ll see ‘transform’ and a new menu item called ‘Master Properties’. Guess which one you’re going to click?...
In the Master Properties menu you’ll see all of your predefined properties. You can now edit these properties. As you edit the properties your original ‘Master’ composition will not be affected. If you need another composition just nest the 'Master Comp' again.

Pushing and Pulling Properties with Master Properties

Master Properties have a push and pull feature that may seem a little strange at first, but they are super handy...
Pull Master Property resets your property to the default value in your Master Comp.
Push to Master Comp changes the default property value in your Master Comp.
Push and Pull Master Properties.png
Pull on the left and push on the right
You’re going to use these features all the time to adjust your template on the fly. There’s even a parenting tool that allows you to connect properties together!

Master the Properties

You are now the master of properties in After Effects. What’s next? Tying properties to random seeds? Connecting 3rd party plugins? The sky’s the limit.
Now get out there and flip those properties like a real-estate investor in 2007. What could possibly go wrong?...
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Property Master, not Property Brothers...