By landing on this After Effects tutorial page you are probably wondering how video editing works in After Effects, well on this article I’ll demonstrate the essential methods to edit a video in after effects such as, cut video clip, trim a video, split video and more…

Honestly video editing with after Effects is not as simple as Adobe Premiere but the good news is that you can pretty much do everything Premiere does the only difference is that it takes little more steps and a little more time, just remember Adobe After Effects was originally built to create visual effects and compositing not video editing 🙂

For those who are video editor, After Effects is not Premiere or Final Cut Pro so please don’t waste your time searching for razor cut tool, trimmer tool, split tool… because they do not exist in After Effects yet, that being said all of these can be achieve in AE just check below the multiple methods to edit your videos with After Effects.

And for those who are motion graphic designer you might learn some good video editing tips to use in After Effects to improve your workflow in any case please add you comments at the end if you want to see more and see something missing.

To import a video in After Effects
– Double Click on the project window
– Browse and find your video
– Click Import
– Drag your video on the “create a new Composition” icon create a new composition icon

By using this method above it allows your AE composition settings to match your video dimension (width and height), match your video frame rate, and match  your video length.

Check the animated demo below
Import video in after-effects

Cut a video in After Effects like the razor tool blade in Premiere is relatively easy follow the instruction below

Start After Effects
On the top tab bar click File > Import > Files… (Shortcut: CTRL+I (PC) | Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+I (Mac) )
Create a composition (shortcut: CTRL+N (PC) |  Command + N (Mac))
Drag and drop your video in your composition
Move the “Current time indicator” where you want to cut
Select your video in the Composition
On the top tab bar click Edit > Split Layer (Shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+D (PC) |  Command+Shift+D (MAC))
Now you should see your video cut exactly where your Current time indicator” was.
In contrary to Premiere, After Effects create multiple layers for each of your video cuts on the timeline.

Watch below how to cut a video in After Effects
After Effects Cut Video Clip Demo

So what is trimming a video ?
Trimming allows you to remove the unwanted frames or unwanted area of your video from the start or end of your video. It is basically a different way to cut your video inaccurately. Trim a video in After Effects is very similar to Premiere, check the instruction and watch the animated demo below

There are 2 methods to trim a video in After Effects

Method 1 – Drag Video layer handles 
Import your video
Create a composition
Drag your video into your composition
Move your cursor over the beginning or the end of your video layer your will see this icon 
Drag until your reach the time you need.

Watch below the video trim edit

For those familiar with the term nest in Premiere, After effects basically call it “pre-compose”,
check the instruction below to see how to nest / pre-compose your videos  or layers in After Effects.

This method below nest the entire video in a new composition 

Start After Effects
Import your video (Ctrl+I (Windows) | Command+I)
Create a composition (shortcut: Ctrl+N (Windows) |  Command+N (MAC))
Drag your video in your Composition
Select your video layer
Right click choose Pre-Compose… (Shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+C (Windows) or Command+Shift+C (Mac OS).)
Type the name your new composition
If you have added Effects to your videos select “Move all attributes into the new composition”
Now on your project window on the left you should see your new a composition with the video in it.

Watch  below how to pre-compose a video or a layer in After Effects

After Effects nest pre-compose demo

Lift a video in After Effects allow you to cut a video but keep the space from the cut.

Below to instruction to lift a video layer in After Effects

  • Assuming your video is already in your timeline
  • Drag the “Work area” blue handles and move them to the selected area you want to lift.
  • Right Click in between the blue work area handle area and choose Lift Work Area
  • After effects will remove the cut and keep the beginning and the end of the video

Watch below how to Lift a video in After Affects
lift work area video after effects

So you want to cut and remove a specific area of your video layer on After Effects timeline, super simple follow the instruction below or watch the animated demo below.

  1. Assuming your video is already in your timeline
  2. Drag the “Work area” blue handles and move them to the selected area you want to extract/remove.
  3. Right Click in between the blue work area handle area and choose Extract Work Area
  4. After effects will remove the cut and keep the beginning and the end of the videoExtract Work Area Video Cut After Effects
  • Assuming your video is already in your timeline
  • Drag the “Work area” blue handles and move them to the selected area you want to trim
  • Right Click in between the blue work area handle area and choose Trim Comp to work area
  • After Effects will re-adjust your timeline base on your trim from the work area

Watch Demo below
Trim comp to work area

Further more I wanted to show a couple of nice After Effects features and shortcuts for the timeline you might need when you edit a video

Marker are super useful in video editing they are like post-it stickers for your video, here is what you can do with markers in After Effects
– Mark a specific frame (example IN and OUT)
– Mark a specific time area
– Add comments you can use later
– Add chapter, URL or Frame target (if you are using the video on the web)
– Flash Cue point ( if you are using Flash / Adobe Animate)

To add a marker in After Effects simply just press Alt+* (PC) or Option+* (Mac OS) on the numeric keypad, see animated demo below.
add marker to video in after effects

Double click on the Preview Time area, a “Go to Time” window should open a window where you can enter a specific sec,min, hour.
Tips: If you want to change your after effects timeline to frame numbers instead of seconds Hold CTRL + Double Click over the Preview Time area.

Check out demo below
Go to time after effects

Increase the speed or slowing down the duration of a video is very easy check below.

  • Right click on your video layer
  • Select Time > Time Stretch
  • Lower the percentage to increase the video speed or increase percentage to slow down the video

Follow the instruction below to start your video based on the “Current Time Indicator” (blue vertical line)

  • Assuming your video is already in the timeline
  • Move the time indicator where you need your video to start
  • Select the Layer / the video
  • Press on your keyboard the bracket [
  • You should now see your layer/video starting exactly at the time indicator position
Here are a few technical video editing terms difference between Premiere vs After effects that will help you understand both software.
Premiere Terms VS After Effects Terms
Sequence → Composition
 Nest →  Pre-compose
 Marker →  Layer Marker
 Make a Subsequence →  Duplicate
Speed/Duration →  Time Stretch
Add frame hold →  Freeze Frame