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Video Editing 101: How to Export Your Project in After Effects

Robbie Janney

When you’re just getting started in After Effects, the program can be daunting. Here’s a quick guide to exporting your project.

Everyone who has used After Effects before knows the pain of trying to navigate the software for the first time. I know for me it took a few days and countless YouTube tutorials. Since the program is so entirely different than other creative programs, it can take some getting used to.

Once you’ve finally finished your first project, getting the composition out of After Effects isn’t as easy as clicking File > Export. Luckily, our friends at Shutterstock have made an extremely easy-to-follow guide to finishing that first project. Let’s get started!


Add Your Composition to the Render Queue

Video Editing 101: How to Export Your Project in After Effects — Add Composition

First off, check to see if your composition is playing correctly. If everything looks right, go to the top menu and select Composition > Add to Render Queue. 

Think of the Render Queue as a line that your compositions wait in to get exported. In a program like After Effects, when you start working with multiple compositions at a time, a queue can make the exporting process much easier. But for this one, all you have to do is add your single composition.


Adjusting Your Settings

Once you’ve reached the render queue, you’re going to see your project lined up inside the window. This window will give you three options to choose from: Render Settings, Output Module, and Output To.

Video Editing 101: How to Export Your Project in After Effects — Adjust Settings

The Render Settings is where you can change the quality settings of your video. If you need to change the frame rate of your project to fit the frame rate of a video in Premiere, you can change those settings here. If all of these options look like a foreign language to you, don’t worry — After Effects will automatically default to the best settings.

Video Editing 101: How to Export Your Project in After Effects — Render Settings

The Output Module is where you will do most of the heavy lifting. This is where you will adjust your composition’s format, codec, and channels. For your composition’s format, I recommend keeping it in QuickTime. It’s the most accessible format for most projects, so unless you specifically need to export in a different one, stick with QuickTime.

Video Editing 101: How to Export Your Project in After Effects — Output Module

For your project’s codec, click the “Format Options” button, and a new window will pop up. Here, you will see a dropdown menu of all the codecs to choose from. The Animation codec is tried and true, but you can experiment with others such as Apple Pro Res if you want to get a higher-quality render.

Video Editing 101: How to Export Your Project in After Effects — Format Options

The channel where your project gets exported is one of the most important parts of this list, and it’s often a challenge for first-time After Effects users. If your composition is a full-fledged animation that you aren’t going to place over a video, then select the RGB option. This will export your composition with the background intact.

However, if you’re exporting something that you are going to place over video, such as a lower third or a logo animation, then you need to select RGB + Alpha. This will make your background transparent, so that you can place the rendered product over a video.

Finally, choose your file location in the “Output To” settings tab. Once you’ve done that, click the “Render” button on the right side of the screen, and boom! You’re finished! Not as hard as it seems, right?

After Effects may be tricky at first, but once you get your bearings, you will be firing off animations like a Wild West gunslinger. Best of luck in your new frontier, cowboy.


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