How to Cut a Video in After Effects

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Adobe After Effects is available on both Windows and Mac.
Image Credit: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images

After Effects is a motion graphics editor designed by Adobe. Although the software is not built primarily as a video editing tool, it is possible to cut and edit video clips directly within the interface. As such, After Effects should not be used to edit long or complex projects, but it can be used to enhance existing projects.


The Interface

After Effects' default interface can be daunting at first glance, as it contains a lot of detailed information. For the purposes of cutting a video, you only need to concentrate on three windows: the Project window, the Composition window and the Timeline window. The Project window is where your video clips are located once imported. The Composition window is used to view your currently selected clip and the Timeline window is where the editing takes place.


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Cutting a Video

To open a video clip in the Composition window, first locate it in the Project window and then double-click on it. In the Composition window, drag the orange slider to your intended start point and then click the "Set IN point to current time" button, located just below the video preview. Next, drag the orange slider to your intended end point and click the "Set OUT point to current time." To insert the prepared clip into the Timeline window, click the "Ripple Insert Edit" button, also located beneath the video preview.


Using the Toolbar

The Toolbar is located at the top of the window and contains options such as a "Selection" tool, a "Move" tool and a "Zoom" tool. The "Horizontal Type Tool" enables you to insert a text overlay on top of your video clips. You can tweak the values of your text graphics in the "Character" window. Adjustable options include font, size and format. Text graphics also appear in the Timeline once inserted.


Adding Effects

Once your video clips are in the Timeline window, you can add effects to enhance their appearance. Select a clip in your Timeline by clicking on it and then open the "Effects" menu. Highlight an effect submenu and then click an effect of your choosing -- for example, "Cartoon." The effect will be applied to the selected clip with its default values. A new window will also appear, which will enable you to tweak the values of the effect. Each effect has unique values that can be adjusted.



Parenting enables you to alter multiple layers at once. To activate parenting, locate your desired parent clip in the Timeline and then click the drop-down box under the "Parent" tab. Select the clip you would like to associate with the parent from the list of available options. With the clips linked, you will now be able to adjust values such as scale and position to both clips simultaneously. To unlink the clips, return the parent option back to "None."


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