Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Building the parenting chain

From: After Effects Apprentice 07: Parenting

Video: Building the parenting chain

My next task is connecting together these individual layers in a way to make animation easier. For example, if I rotate this medium arm piece, I'd like this little arm piece to follow along with it. So I should probably parent the small arm to the medium arm. Likewise, if I move the big arm and rotate it, I would want these other smaller arm pieces to follow it. So at a minimum, I want the medium arm to be parented to the big arm. However, I would not parent the small arm directly to the big arm. I am going to leave it as a child to the medium arm.

Building the parenting chain

My next task is connecting together these individual layers in a way to make animation easier. For example, if I rotate this medium arm piece, I'd like this little arm piece to follow along with it. So I should probably parent the small arm to the medium arm. Likewise, if I move the big arm and rotate it, I would want these other smaller arm pieces to follow it. So at a minimum, I want the medium arm to be parented to the big arm. However, I would not parent the small arm directly to the big arm. I am going to leave it as a child to the medium arm.

By creating a parenting hierarchy like this, moving one piece will move children of children, kind of like the leg bone is connected to the hipbone. It's the same thing is connecting together your own limbs and that's why it sometimes is referred to as an anthropomorphic type of animation. Finally, I like to have all the arm pieces connected to the frame, so if I pick it up to move it around, all the arm pieces go along with the rest of the mechanism. However, that's not all I need to think of. What's also very important is the anchor point for these individual pieces.

I need to carefully think about what center point I want these individual pieces to rotate our scale around. For example, I'll select the Small Arm and type R for Rotation. I'll scrub its Rotation and I really don't want that arm rotating around its center. That makes no sense. What I really want it to rotate around is this pivot point right in the middle of this circle. Likewise for the medium arm and the big arm. That requires carefully setting up the anchor point, and I highly recommend you do this before you make your parenting assignments.

If you do it afterwards, you have a chance that your positions and anchor point is not making as much sense. So I am going to zoom in to 200%, hold down the Spacebar to temporarily get the Hand tool, move it down, and I'm going to switch to the Pan Behind tool, which we sometimes also refer to as the Anchor Point tool. Y is the shortcut. I want that anchor point to be the middle of this circle. I'll pick it up and start dragging. I can just move it freely around and try to position it correctly or after I have clicked and started moving, I can add the Shift key to restrict my movement to just X or Y. If I feel that my anchor point is started out centered along this vertical line, I'll hold down the Shift key and drag it to what I think should be the center of that rotation.

Let's check it to be sure. I'll scrub Rotation and make sure that my arm stay centered in that pivot point and frankly, it looks pretty good. If necessary, I can nudge it, but that looks like it should work. I'll undo to get back to 0. It's really important to have a nice known stable starting position and I'll move down to the Medium Arm. I'll type R to reveal its Rotation, hold down the Spacebar, and drag to center the arm in my viewer, and again it pivots around its natural center point where the anchor point defaults at 2. I'll undo, start dragging, then hold the Shift key and drag this into what looks like it should be roughly the center point.

I'll scrub the Rotation and that's not too bad. It might be a little bit out around. So I might try to adjust it. I am moving it around a little bit here. See if that looks any better. Not really. So I just undo and get back to where I was and leave that as its anchor point. Again, note that I'm using the Pan Behind tool. This moves the anchor point and position at the same time so that I'm not moving the layer. I'm just moving the anchor point position's relationship. Pan down here to the big arm, select it, R for Rotation, with the Pan Behind tool start dragging anchor point, add the Shift key, and try to center it up and that looks really good.

Let's practice by rotating. A little bit out around. Let's see if we can make that any better by putting it down here. No, that's worse. I'll make one more shot at this, but I think my initial position might end up being the best. Nope! That's not around again, so I'll just undo, be happy with that, and I'll go back down to 100%, re-center. After I have set up my anchor points, I can return back to the normal Selection tool and now it's okay to parent.

So just as we said back in the Advanced Animation lesson, set up your anchor points before you animate. Same goes for parenting. Set up your anchor points before parenting. At this point it is just very simple. The small arm is connected to the medium arm, the medium arm is connected to the big arm, and the big arm is connected to the frame. That way if I move the big arm, everyone follows along. That's nice! Medium arm moves just the small arm, but not its parent large arm, and the little arm just moves all by itself.

So it all works out really nicely. So that's our parenting chain. Pretty simple to set up. But before we start animating it, we need to know what we're going to be animating it in relation to, what's going to be our timing, and what positions and space we want this arm to point out. Now to save your time we've already created a video edit for you. Go into your Sources folder and open up video edit. We've already spotted out important parts in the music. I'll zoom back a little bit here and cut video to go along with the music. We've also added composition markers that show where each video clip starts.

This will make it easier to set the timing later on, and I'm just going to drag this outside the Sources folder and close that back up again. What you still need to do, however, is place a few items of text around the screen to give you something to aim the robot arm at.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects Apprentice 07: Parenting
After Effects Apprentice 07: Parenting

17 video lessons · 7489 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed After Effects Apprentice 07: Parenting.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your lynda.com subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.