Importing Illustrator files to after effects
  • You are correct. Illustrator files need to be layered in order to separate them in After Effects. If you're just working with basic shapes, you might want to look at simply using shape layers and drawing right within AE. If you're creating something a bit more complicated, I'd suggest grouping shapes in Illustrator, then selecting "Release to Layers (Sequence)" from the menu in the layers palette. You can then drag these layers out in the layer stack and they'll show up as separate layers in AE.

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