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Share or Reuse After Effects Project Files

In this video I’ll show you how to package all, or part, of an After Effects project file so that you can share it with someone else, or reuse it inside another After Effects project.

When you import anything into After Effects, behind-the-scenes, it’s creating a link to that file, wherever it’s saved–whether that’s on your computer, a hard drive, or cloud storage. This includes anything that you import, so artwork from Illustrator or Photoshop, audio files, video clips, and so on.

If you move a file or rename a folder that it’s in, after it’s already been imported into After Effects, you’ll get a missing footage error. By the way, you can fix this by right clicking on the missing file in After Effects and going to Replace Footage, then File and then navigating to the new location of the file.

Because imported files are linked into After Effects, if you want to share your After Effects project with someone, you can’t just share the .aep file. You’ll need to share all the files that go along with it as well, otherwise they’ll see a missing footage error when they open your .aep file.

This is the case if you’ve imported anything into your After Effects project file. However, if your After Effects project is made up of things like native shape layers and text, then everything is contained in the .aep file, so you can just share this and you’re good to go.

If you’re organized, and you kept your After Effects project file and anything that you imported into it in the same folder, you could just share this entire folder. You may need to zip the folder, by right clicking and choosing compress, in order to upload or send the folder. When someone else has the entire folder, they can open the .aep file and After Effects will know where to find all the linked files since the folder structure hasn’t changed, even though the location of the folder has.

Collect Files

1:43 in the video

If you’re not that organized, you can ask After Effects to collect everything you’ve imported. Here’s how:

  • Go to File > Dependencies > Collect Files
  • Make sure you have these settings in the pop-up window:
  • Then click Collect then navigate to where you want to save the folder of collected files and rename the folder, if you want.

This will create a folder containing an After Effects project (.aep) and a Footage folder containing all imported files. This process copies your files so it doesn’t affect the original files; they’ll also remain saved wherever you have them saved.

Collect Only Selected Comps

3:00 in the video

There’s also a way to only share certain compositions from you After Effects project. This can be useful if you don’t need to share everything in your project with somebody else; you can just share the compositions that they need. Or, you could also do this to reuse an animation from one After Effects project within another project.

You can’t have multiple After Effects projects open at the same time. You can copy native shape layers or text from one project, then open another project and paste them. But, this doesn’t work with imported files like Illustrator artwork and you can’t copy and paste a composition.

So let’s look at how to collect one or more compositions from your After Effects project.

  • Select the comp/s that you want to collect in the Project Panel.
  • Go to File > Dependencies > Collect Files
  • Make sure you have these settings in the pop-up window:
  • Then click Collect then navigate to where you want to save the folder of collected files and rename the folder, if you want.

Import an AEP into Another Project

4:37 in the video

From the file you want to import into:

  • Go to File > Import > File
  • Find the parent folder containing the .aep and the Footage folder (that you collected earlier).
  • Select the entire parent folder and click Open.

Now you’ll see the folder in your Project Panel. If you toggle it open you’ll see all the compositions from the imported After Effects Project.

You could also so this same thing to import an entire AE project file into another After Effects project. If you have an After Effects project file that contains only native shapes and text (nothing imported), you can import the .aep file into another After Effects project and you’ll be able to access all the compositions from the imported file.

All the keyboard shortcuts you need, in one place:

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