Adobe After Effects Basics - Compositions

After a few more advanced tutorials, I am finally continuing my basics series with this new tutorial covering the fundamentals of compositions and their many uses in Adobe After Effects.

Adobe After Effects Basics Tutorial 2/5 - Compositions And Pre-Composing

What is a Composition?

A composition is a container for your visual elements. Whenever you want to create a visual effect in Adobe After Effects, you will have to create a composition first. You then add your visual elements, be they images or video footage, as layers into this composition.

You can then modify the layers, blend them together and apply all sorts of effects before exporting your composition into a final video

You can also use compositions to group together a number of layers. You do this by pre-composing a number of layers and nesting them in a new composition. This new composition then replaces the original layers.

The advantage of this grouping is that you can now deal with all the layers you pre-composed as a single layer and move them around or apply effects to the entire group.

Finally - to me the most powerful aspect of compositions - is that you can use compositions to create reusable elements for your effects. You add a number of visual elements into a composition and then you can use copies of that composition as often as you want.

If you now change the contents of this composition, you will affect all instances of it across all of your layers!

Setting Up

Before we get into this tutorial, I will assume that you already watched my Adobe After Effects For Absolute Beginners video.

I am going to use 2 pieces of footage for this tutorial:

  • A small clip of a park from my After Effects Explosions tutorial. However, it doesn't matter what footage you use, just use something that looks cool if you add some explosions to it
  • A stock footage explosion clip that you can download for free from . You can click this link to download the clip directly

Here's a peek at the explosion stock footage we will be using


User avatar
7 Years Ago
June 17, 2013 @ 1:30 pm
Hi There ( i don't know Yr Name, Yet )

Maybe i'm first who comment here...

Very Great Tutorial and also Help Me...

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6 Years Ago
October 3, 2013 @ 0:18 am
Really great! Thank you!!
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6 Years Ago
August 8, 2014 @ 9:09 am
Hey Tobias,
I've been editing for a little while now and wanted to expand my Affter effects skills. Your tutorials are great! i really appreciate you taking the time to put these together and have the different experience levels to work through. Your the man, keep up the great work!
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6 Years Ago
August 8, 2014 @ 1:59 pm
Thank you very much Glad you're enjoying my tutorials!
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Alok Sharma
5 Years Ago
April 13, 2015 @ 11:16 am

Thanks for all the hard work you are putting in .

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Surfaced Studio@ Alok Sharma
5 Years Ago
April 26, 2015 @ 11:02 am
Thank you very much!

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I am passionate about providing high quality VFX & Film Making Edutainment online. Check out my training courses on Udemy
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