How To Share And Backup A Project In After Effects In 4 Easy Steps (Illustrated Guide).

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Have you ever needed to share an After Effects project and assets, but there were too many files to keep up with?

Or maybe you’ve needed to backup your AE project, but the project file and folder are unnecessarily big due to many unused files or duplicate content?

If so, you will want to a closer look at all the features under Dependencies in After Effects (File > Dependencies).

In this article, I’ll break down how to use Collect Files to organize, backup, and share an After Effects project. I’ll also explain the difference between Consolidate All Footage, Remove Unused Footage, and Reduce Project, and how to use these the right way.

Last, I’ll also briefly touch upon how you use find missing effects, fonts, and footage.

First let’s have a quick overview of what each of the features do and when to use them.

FeatureWhat does it do?When to use it?
Collect FilesPulls all the files and assets used in the After Effects project and consolidates (i.e. puts) them all into one folder.Sharing a project – fx with your team or a render farm
Transferring a project between a laptop and desktop
Archiving a project
Consolidate All FootageFinds redundancies in your project source files and removes copies.Projects have to any duplicate files.
Clear up project folders of redundancies before:
Sharing a project – fx with your team or a render farm
Transferring a project between a laptop and desktop
Archiving a project
Remove Unused FootageRemoves all the footage in the project that is not curretly being use in a comp.Imported a whole folder of potential sources and only need part of the actual project.

Reduce ProjectRemove all footage, solids, and other compositions that are not referecned in the selected composition.Reduces size of project before:
Sharing a project – fx with your team or a render farm
Transferring a project between a laptop and desktop
Archiving a project
Find Missing EffectsShows all the comps affected by missing effects in your project panelNeed to have all the affected files in one place to relink effects after you have pulled project from archives or transferred from another computer.
Find Missing FontsShow all the different files affected by missing fonts in the project panelNeed to have all your affected files using a missing font in one place. Later you have pulled project from arichves or transfered from another computer.
Find Missing FootageShow all missing footage in the project panelIdentifing where all the missing files are in an After Effects project. After you have pulled project from arichves or transfered from another computer.

Now let’s go into how you use each of these features to reduce and share or backup a project in 4 easy steps below.

1. Reduce project

Select your master composition, i.e. the composition that has every other composition, pre-compositions, and other assets inside of it.

Now go to File > Dependencies > Reduce Project

A pop-up will appear telling you how many items were removed from the selection and that you can undo if you wish.

After this, all footage, solids, and other compositions referenced in the selected composition have been removed.

2. Remove unused footage

Now it’s time to remove all those files, you imported, but didn’t end up being used in the final project.

Go to File > Dependencies > Remove Unused Footage

A pop-up shows the number of files and folders removed and letting you know you can undo the process if you would like.

After this, all unused footage has been removed from the project.

3. Consolidate all footage

If you’ve got multiple sources of the same clip, remove them with the consolidate all footage.

Go to File > Dependencies > Consolidate All Footage

A pop-up appears showing the number of files that were consolidated.

After this multiple sources (if any) of the same clip were removed from After Effects project.

4. Collect files

Your project files are now ready to be collected.

Go to File > Dependencies > Collect Files

A menu pops-up with a lot of options:

If you’re new to this, I recommend you only focus on the collect source foles drop down.

Let’s break down all the options in more detail below.

To begin with, you will have a drop down menu for Collect Source Files.

Let’s break down the options:

  • All (every file asset you brought into After Effects will be collected)
  • For all Comps (everything used in the different comps)
  • For Selected Comps (same as previous only this time its for selected comps in the project window)
  • For Queued Comps (just the assets associated with the comps in your render queue)
  • None (Project Only) (just the project file)

So next down the line is check boxes. Those include:

  • Generate Report Only creates a document with all file names and sizes used in the project.
  • Obey Proxy Settings (if you’re working with proxies, it transfers the proxies and the linked footage)
  • Reduce Project (removes all assets that are not being used in the actual project. Very similar to the Reduce Project feature in Dependencies, which we will discuss in another article.
  • Change Render Output to (… ) folder (sets up a spot to send any comps to render out to. This can be changed at any time in the render tab)
  • Enable “Watch Folder” Render (helpful if you are using a render farm or rendering on a separate machine)
  • Reveal collected project in Explorer (an explorer page will pop up with its location when its done collecting)

There are two more features that you will see in this menu.

The first is ‘maximum number of machines’ if you’re using a render farm. It will be the number of computers that the files can be spread apart for when you render.

Lastly, you’ll see the number of files you are packaging and how much space all of the files are going to take up.

Then you have a comments button to send comments with the folder and the collect and cancel button.

When you’ve set the options you want, you press ‘collect‘ and choose a destination on your hard drive, where you want a backup of your project files.


Now let’s take a quick look at how you find missing effects, fonts, or footage. You want to make sure you’re not missing any of these before you backup or share your project.

Find Missing Effects

When you open an After Effects project with missing effects you’ll get a pop-up dialogue box like this.
To manually search for missing fonts go to File > Dependencies > Find Missing Effects

This will ”search” for all the files with missing effects that you may have on one machine but not the one you currently on in the project manager.

This makes it very easy to see to find out what effects are missing and relinking them later.

Find Missing Fonts

When you open an After Effects project with missing fonts, you’ll get a pop-up dialogue box like this.
To manually search for missing fonts go to File > Dependencies > Find Missing Fonts

This will ”search” for all the files with missing fonts that you may have on one machine but not the one you currently on in the project manager.

This, like the missing effects option, makes it very easy to see all the files affected by the missing fonts and relink them at another time.

Find Missing Footage

When you open an After Effects project with missing footage you’ll get a pop-up dialogue box like this.
To manually search for missing fonts go to File > Dependencies > Find Missing Footage

This will ”search” for all the footage missing that you may have on one machine but not the one you currently on in the project manager.

This, like the missing effects option, makes it very easy to see all the footage missing and relink them at another time.

Conclusion

As you can see, the dependencies options can be quite helpful. It comes so handy when working in team having one button that can package all the files up for delivery.

Also, it’s good to keep in mind using reduce option before archiving can really help save a lot of space where ever you keep your past projects.

So on your next project give the dependencies a try.


About the author:

Jan Sørup is a videographer and photographer from Denmark. He’s the owner of filmdaft.com and of the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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