Is there a way to see other project elements when working in a composition to be able to align and synchronized the elements of the animation one with the others? When I open up a composition to adjust my elements I don't see all my elements in others composition and main project.


2 Answers 2


Short answer: yes.

Say you have a subcomp which you want to work on and you want to see how this affects the composition in which it is nested. This is easily done; you just need to open up a new viewer. You can have as many viewers open as you like (until your graphics card catches fire), this will let you see any number of linked compositions at once.

To do it from the menu go to View>New Viewer or hit Ctrl/CmdaltshiftN or right-click in your comp window and choose New>Viewer from the contextual menu. enter image description here

By default (?) this viewer will show the current composition (this is useful when working in 3D because you can set it to a different perspective), and it will switch when you change comps, so we have to lock it. That's what that little padlock icon is at the top of the comp window.

enter image description here
(I just noticed when taking this screen shot that the icon was already locked. Adobe may have changed the default behaviour of new viewers).

With this padlock locked the viewer will stay on whatever comp you set it to, so you can hop over to a child comp, make changes and see it update in the parent. You can drag your timeline to a new frame by dragging the tab, meaning you can see both timelines and compositions concurrently. Below is an example where you can see both a pre-comp and the composition it is used in, to allow for editing and live updating without switching tabs.

enter image description here

  • So far I understand the question - OP wants to see and edit the layers in the subcomp instead of a new viewer.
    – p2or
    Apr 16, 2015 at 7:56
  • Well you can have multiple timelines open at once, each with their own viewer. Just drag the timeline tab somewhere else in the window.
    – stib
    Apr 17, 2015 at 1:37
  • Upvoted to prevent that this question comes over and over again. It's a nice and solid answer, so I don't understand why the OP ignored it.
    – p2or
    Jun 18, 2015 at 10:08

The idea of After Effects is to work with nested compositions. The only opportunity is to use the flow chart diagram to get some kind of orientation:


enter image description here

It really depends on what you want to achieve. If you need to work in 1 Composition, I suggest you to create Adjustment Layers (not visible in the viewer and also not visible in the render) in order to facilitate the work. Thus it's possible to separate the content (the layers) visually, if they are well labeled like:

enter image description here

As alternative use a node based compositor like Fusion, Nuke, Natron or Blender to see everything at once, but as I said this really depends on the task and your requirements.

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