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The Preview pane is a live preview window showing a looped render of what is represented in the Effects Chain. When changes are made to the settings or Blocks, the preview will update to represent those changes.
When you select an effect preset from the Presets pane, the name of that preset will appear at the bottom of the Effects Chain. If you alter any of the blocks in the effects chain the name will change to "Untitled" until it is saved as a custom preset.
Controls at the bottom of the Preview pane affect the Camera, Render, and Playback of your preview. These changes are only affecting your Designer preview, no settings from these controls are round-tripped back to After Effects
The Comp Reset button will reset any adjustments made using Camera Preview Mode, causing the view to return to the settings from the composition.
The Camera Preview button allows you to use a temporary, virtual camera to view your form particles. Pressing the ‘C’ key on your keyboard will cycle through the various camera modes:
Note that these view changes are only temporary and are not roundtripped back to After Effects. To reset the view changes you make, click the Comp Reset button. To actually change the angle or position of your form, use the Base Form or World Transform options, or use an After Effects camera.
The Motion Blur button allows you to preview motion blur in the Designer.
The Depth of Field button allows you to preview depth of field in the Designer. This option does not create a depth of field. It only allows you to preview the depth of field that you’ve created in After Effects. In order to create a depth of field, there must be a camera in your composition with Depth of Field enabled.
The Full Render button renders the form particles normally when enabled. When deselected, “beauty” adjustments like Size/Opacity Randomness, Blend Mode, Depth of Field, etc. that primarily affect the visual attributes of the particles are disabled. This mode is helpful to get a clearer idea of how your particles are behaving.
Left to right, the project with the Full Render button enabled and disabled.
The First Frame button takes your Preview Pane to the first frame of the preview's animation.
The Pause button pauses your Preview Pane on the current frame shown in the preview's animation.
The Last Frame button takes your Preview Pane to the last frame of the preview's animation.
The timecode next to the Last Frame button reflects the current timecode/frame of the preview. Click the timecode to pause playback and adjust which frame is displayed in the preview panel.
The Loop Playback button enables or disables the looping of playback within the Preview panel.
The Loop Duration is set to the length of your composition by default. Click and enter a new duration to preview what your animation would look like at a different length.
Lastly, the Reset Loop Duration button, resets the Loop Duration to its default.