We're often asked the secret to being an After Effects pro. The true power lies in getting off on the right foot . If you have TOTAL control over importing and managing your assets, you'll get fewer surprises and better results. Getting footage into your projects the right way makes all the difference. After all, it's far better to spend your time designing, than it is to search for misplaced files. Let's learn powerful secrets about how to import, organize, interpret, and manage your footage.
When After Effects imports a file it creates a path to the file on the hard drive. If you move that file or delete it, AE will prompt you to find it again (that's what all those color bars mean). Even if you tend to not move your assets, the best thing to do is to copy all the files you've used into a folder on your hard drive which is dedicated to the project you're working on.
In that project file you should have folders for stills, video, etc. Organize it in a way that you'll understand months from when you've finished and you want to back-up that folder to remove it from you hard-drive. It's not a bad idea to make copies of the fonts used so that you can open the project up on a different computer.
If you don't want to move a file from the folder you linked to, make a copy and put it in your project folder as well. Copying files may take up more room on your hard-drive but it's worth it to have multiple instances of files as long as you have all the assets you need at the ready. If you are going to DVD or are editing in an NLE, you should keep those project files in the same folder as well.