A composition naming system for After Effects

Written on 24 November 2016, 12:15pm under Techniques

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First, I want to stress that I think that, to many After Effects users, organization and methodology is the most underestimated pain point and undervalued aptitude. These do not make the coolest tutorials, but developing a structure is what makes working in After Effects enjoyable.

Organization isn’t fun, but it allows fun to blossom

I am a little obsessive about order and organization. In the past, always searching for a composition in a stack of Pre-comp X used to take a lot of mental energy away from me. It would render my work process dull and inflexible. Coming from a programming background, I knew I needed more structure. I needed a system.

I have worked with many of animators over the years and came to the conclusion that there are probably as many ways to organize an After Effects file as there are After Effects licenses. Some people have folders hierarchy into which they classify their compositions; some prefer color codes and some just straight up improvise on each and every new project.

After some unsuccessful research for a system that would fit my work, I experimented various classifying and naming techniques. Today, after about three years of tweaking and using this system on more than 100 projects, I feel confident about its validity. Of course, usual disclaimer, this might not work as is for everybody. This article is very opinionated and takes into account only my personal use cases, so take it with a grain of salt and feel free to adapt it to your needs.

I have written a bit about file naming in a previous article. This one will especially tackle the compositions naming inside of a project.


A File Naming Convention

Written on 25 March 2015, 04:27pm under Resources

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A well-structured naming convention is part of a good work hygiene. It simplifies your thought process on many small operations (saving, searching, sending, etc.) and removes risks of accidentally deleting or overwriting files. I won’t have the pretension to call this the file naming convention you should follow, but rather just propose it as a personally tested convention I find efficient and easy to follow.