Time sculpting: swapping still images for video
I’m using Templater to build a slideshow that can accommodate a series of client-uploaded images or video clips, arranged in a series of pre-comps that retime automatically based on the length of the media provided. This works like a charm when only video is being used, but if I swap a still image in to one of my pre-comps with the existing settings (Preserve Start / Preserve End / Comp Ends at Out Point), the footage layer and pre-comp trim themselves down to a duration of one single frame, which is most undesirable!
The workaround I’ve settled on for now is to build two media-holding pre-comps for each “scene”: one for images and the other for video. Both load the same media, but the video version retimes itself while the image version stays at a default five seconds; a separate column in the controlling spreadsheet tells the “scene” which of those media containers to swap in.
This is all working exactly as hoped, but I do wonder whether there’s a more elegant solution that doesn’t require the extra levels of pre-comping and data input. Any thoughts? Thanks!
If I’m understanding the situation correctly, the issue here is that we’re swapping an asset with a lot of frame data (our movie) out with an asset that basically has none (our image).
The main problem here is that, to After Effects, an image only has a single frame of image data, so if we have the “Preserve Start” and “Preserve End” options checked, it would naturally reduce that layer down to one frame, the way you described.
In the scenario where we needed to resize a still image, we’d typically suggest using the “Stretch” option to conform that image to another “timing” layer to stretch it out, but that would cause issues if we swapped the image back to a video asset since we wouldn’t want that asset to conform to the same “timing” layer as the image.
Given all this, I think that the solution you’ve described, where you’re swapping between precomps that are specifically set up for a video or still image, makes a lot of sense and is what we’d typically recommend. It might be possible to use some kind of ExtendScript to detect the file type of the layer and then alter it accordingly, but that would almost certainly be more complicated and error-prone, especially since we’ve already got a solution in place.
Hopefully, that makes sense, but if you encounter any other issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
@Jeff Thanks so much! That all makes perfect sense. I was quite pleased to have reasoned out the solution I did, so your confirmation that it matches your recommendation is all I needed!