Adobe Creative Cloud

favorite features in CC versions of After Effects: property links

We have talked for a long time on the After Effects team about adding a feature for “instancing” of effects, meaning that you would be able to drive multiple instances of an effect from one master controller. The more we talked about this, the more we realized that the right thing to do for maximum flexibility and power would be to not limit such a feature to just whole effects, but to create a system whereby any set of properties could be linked across layers and compositions. This is how “property links” were born.

The property links are established and maintained through expressions, but there is no need to write (or even see) the expressions that are created.

You can select any property or set of properties and choose Edit > Copy With Property Links or Edit > Copy With Relative Property Links and then paste those properties on any layer in any composition. The result is that the pasted properties remain connected to the layer from which the properties were copied, such that any change made to the original property is reflected in all of the instances of the pasted property links.

You can even copy an entire layer with property links and paste it to create duplicates that follow the changes made to the original.

For example, the following looping animation consists of a master shape layer on the left and three copies made by choosing Copy With Property Links and then pasting three times, then selectively disabling the links for a few properties by disabling the expressions on those properties. I could have accomplished the same thing by selectively using Copy With Property Links on specific properties.


The command Copy With Relative Property Links, works like the command Copy With Property Links, except that the former creates expressions that do not reference the source composition by name. This maintains a relative link between the layer with the expression and the composition containing that layer. This can be useful when, for example, you want to move expression-rigged layers from one composition to another but let the layers reference a control layer only in the same composition. The expressions created using the Copy With Relative Property Links command are identical to those created using the expression pickwhip.

The result of copying a layer’s Position property with the Copy With Relative Property Links command is this:

The result of copying a layer’s Position property with the Copy With Property Links command is this, which specifically references the layer’s source composition in the expression:

Go ahead and try this out now in the current version. If you’re not already a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can try the free 30-day trial. For information about purchasing a Creative Cloud subscription, see this page about plans and this page with current promotional offers.

If you want to let us know what your favorite changes in After Effects have been since After Effects CC (12.0), come and tell us here, whether your favorite change is a new feature, a bug fix, or a little tweak in behavior.

After Effects, General, Region of Interest