How to Duplicate Clips in After Effects

Updated on: September 19, 2022

Copying a fragment of a clip you are working on in After Effects is one of those useful tricks when it comes to repeating effects or scenes to finish putting together sequences. 

The process is not only handy for keeping some previous settings without having to reapply them from scratch, but it's also quite simple to perform. So, let's start with the basics if you want to learn how to duplicate clips in After Effects in less than ten minutes.

The first thing to do is to import a file and drag it from the Project panel to the Timeline. If you have no idea how to open the browser, don't worry: just double-click in the Project Panel, select your footage, and click Import. When you have your video in that box, drag it to the Timeline. 

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How to duplicate a layer in After Effects

Now that you have your file on the Timeline, After Effects has automatically created a Layer for it. To duplicate it and be able to work independently on two identical layers follow these two steps:

  1. Click the layer you want to duplicate. To know that you selected it correctly, check that it is highlighted.
  2. Press Ctrl + D if you are working in Windows or Cmd + D if you are working in macOS.

If everything went well, you should now have two videos of equal length on your Timeline and a new Layer named the same as the original.

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How to copy only a part of a layer in After Effects

There will be times when you will need to make use of only a fragment of your clip to duplicate it, instead of needing to copy the entire footage to your Timeline. To duplicate just a fragment of one of your layers:

  1. Use the Current Timeline Indicator to hover over the second you want to grab the clip. You will recognize it as a vertical blue bar with which you can scroll along the Timeline.
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  1. When you select the starting point of your new clip fragment, split it by hitting Ctrl + Shift + D or Cmd + Shift + D on your keyboard.
  2. Once you have made that first cut, place the Time Indicator to the second where you want the fragment you will duplicate ends. Click again Cmd + Shift + D to trim it.
  3. If you do not need the other layers that were formed with the information you left out of the fragment you cut, delete them by selecting them and clicking once on the Backspace key.
  4. To move the new duplicate fragment, activate the Selection tool by hitting V, then hover over its layer, and click Ctrl + C or Cmd + C to copy it.
  5. Finally, use the Time Indicator to define the point where you want to locate the copied fragment and paste it by pressing Ctrl + V or Cmd + V.

Remember that every time you cut a layer After Effects will create a new one. This way you can manipulate the adjustments you will make to each of them in the best way.

Tip: if you think you might get confused by the number of layers that appear, you can rename them by right-clicking on them, selecting the Rename option, and typing a new name.

Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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