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Tip: The Feature Most Missing Until After Effects CS4

Tap shift for Miniflow

By Mark Christiansen | April 22, 2009

Here's a tip that won't be news to any hardcore After Effects CS4 users, but lately I've encountered artists working in CS4 who don't know about it, and to me it's like not knowing that you can switch apps on a Mac with command + tab, just like alt + tab on Windows. It's possible someone out there even just received a bonus tip.

Anyhow, CS4 had some major additions - the OEM of MochaAE pretty much pays for itself - but the feature I miss the most when I find myself back in an earlier version of the software is Miniflow, which adds a microscopic tree-node interface to the world's least nodal compositor. Navigating nested/parent comps is visual, intuitive and literally available at the touch of a button.

Okay, suppose you knew that. Did you realize you can hit S with the UI open to resort the stack alphabetically? And of course if it seems wrong that the default flow goes in the Hebraic right to left direction, as has been asserted elsewhere, you can change that too.

Me, I leave it as-is. The old way of having the master comp naturally at the left and subcomps open to the right is still the way it is in the Comp panel.

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kylegilman: | April, 22, 2009

It’s command(?) + tab, not option + tab for switching apps.

Todd_Kopriva: | April, 22, 2009

Of course, when Mark says ‘Miniflow’, he’s referring to the Composition Mini-Flowchart, which you can read all about here:

“Opening and navigating nested compositions”

dennisw: | April, 23, 2009

I can’t stand this feature personally; I’m constantly invoking it when I’m trying to grab a snaphot, or something else that requires the shift key… I also find the flowchart view in AE to be pretty useless; it’s just a linear description of how your project is built, and even then only pre-comps are shown (not other layers). It doesn’t show how the various comps are being used, whether effects/expressions/nulls/parents are linked to/from them, etc, things that would actually make this sort of view helpful. I can’t believe they’d give it such a prominent shortcut key. It’s also driving me crazy that they switched the shortcut for opening a pre-comp as a comp vs a layer. If you have to work in both CS3 and CS4, it will drive you completely mad; if you work as a freelancer, it isn’t always feasible to import your own key presets, so that’s not always an option.

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