How To Quickly Offset Layers in After Effects

In this post, you will learn how to quickly offset layers in After Effects.

Alright, so we are in After Effects and for this example, I am working with 18 Ukramedia logos.

Ukramedia logos in After Effects

These Ukramedia logos are scaling up from 0 to 100 percent.

Now, what if I wanted to take all of my 18 Ukramedia logos and offset them by 3 frames. How can I do it quickly without having to manually offset each layer one by one?

Manually offsetting layers in After Effects

As you can see from the picture above, manually adjusting layers can take a long time. Especially if you are working with a lot of layers.

So let me show you the easiest way to do this.

Step 1:

Select all 18 layers.

Select all layers in After Effects

Step 2:

Move the time indicator to the beginning of the timeline

Move time indicator to the beginning of timeline in After Effects

Step 3:

Press page down on the keyboard 3 times.

Hit page down on keyboard 3 times in After Effects

Step 4:

Press ALT+]  to shorten the selected layers.

Shorten all layers in After Effects

So right now all 18 layers are 3 frames in length.

Step 5:

Right-click on selected layers and go to Keyframe Assistant and click on the Sequence Layers.

Sequence Layers in After Effects

When you do that, you will have a pop-up window appear.

You will see an option for Overlap.

Overlap option in After Effects

The Overlap gives you an option to fade each layer, which is not what I want to do, so I will leave it unchecked.

Step 6:

Make sure the Overlap option is unchecked and then press OK.

Overlap option is unchecked in After Effects

3 Frames offset in After Effects

Now you can see that all of my layers have been offset by 3 frames, so obviously we have a little problem here because my layers are not very long. They are only 3 frames.

Step 7:

Move the time indicator to the end of your composition.

Move time indicator to the end of the composition in After Effects

ALT close square brackets in After Effects

Step 8:

With all 18 layers selected, press ALT+] again to extend the layers to our time indicator, which is located at the end of my composition.

Extend layers to the end of the composition in After Effects

So now if we preview our project, you will see that everything is working well.

Preview offset layers in After Effects 1

Preview offset layers in After Effects 2 Preview offset layers in After Effects 3 Preview offset layers in After Effects 4 Preview offset layers in After Effects 5 Preview offset layers in After Effects 5

Now let me show you how to control the offset order.

Step 1:

Move the time indicator to the beginning of the timeline.

Move the time indicator to the beginning of timeline in After Effects

Step 2:

Undo a few steps with keyboard shortcut CTRL+Z on a PC or CMD+Z on a Mac to bring us back to where we started.

Undo a few steps in After Effects

Step 3:

Select the layers based on the order you want them to start by pressing CTRL+RMB on a PC or CMD+RMB on a Mac.

Select layers in After Effects

In other words, my offset will be determined based on the order of my selection.

So whatever I select first, second and third and so on, that is how it is going to go down. I am going to keep going with my selection until all 18 layers are selected.

All layers selected in After Effects

Step 4:

Right-click on any selected layer again and go to Keyframe Assistant and then choose Sequence Layers again.

Keyframe Assistant Sequence Layers in After Effects

Step 5:

Press OK when you see a pop-up appear.

Sequence Layer press OK in After Effects

Off set based on selection in After Effects

And so now you can see that it automatically off-set layers based on my selection.

Step 6:

Move the time indicator to the end of our composition and press ALT+] to extend layers to the time indicator.

Move the time indicator to the end of the composition in Adobe After Effects ALT close square braket keyboard shortcut to extend layers to time indicator in After Effects
Now let’s preview what we have so far.

Everything is working well. The offset is based on my selection, which is exactly what I wanted.

I do want to point out one more thing, but first, let’s undo everything we just did.

Undo everything in After Effects

So obviously it offsets things based on the length of our layers.

Offset based on the length of layers in After Effects

What if want to have a different offset? For example, let’s manually adjust the length of layers one by one like so:

Manually adjust layers in After Effects

Next, I am going to select all of my layers, right-click on them, then choose Keyframe Assistant and then click on the Sequence Layers option just like we did in previous examples and press OK on the pop-up.

Sequence Layer in Adobe After Effects

Press Okay in Adobe After Effects

And now you can tell that it offset some things differently.

Different Offset in After Effects

It offsets everything based on its length. So it is going to have different timing.

Now let’s move the time indicator to the end of this composition and press CTRL+] on a PC or CMD+] on a Mac to extend our layers to the end of our composition.

Move time indicator to the end of this composition in After Effects Extend layers to the time indicator in After Effects

And now if I preview this you can easily tell that the timing of some of our layers is not the same.

I hope you found this tip was useful!

About the author:

Sergei Prokhnevskiy

Sergei Prokhnevskiy is a Charlotte, NC based motion graphics designer, an online tutor, an entrepreneur, and Adobe MAX Master Speaker. Sergei is known for his quick and practical After Effects tips and tricks on YouTube, where he generated well over 6 million views on his tutorials. He has authored an online video course on After Effects Expressions and developed scripts for After Effects. He is also a former senior motion graphics designer at Fox Sports where he worked on graphics for NFL, Super Bowl, MLB, World Series, College Football, NASCAR, Women’s World Cup, and NASCAR Race Hub. He is very passionate about learning and teaching others.

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