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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Exploring an alternate way to edit


From:

After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Exploring an alternate way to edit

I mentioned in the previous movie that there is a couple of different ways in editing an Anchor Point. I'd like to show those to you now. First I am going to reset the transform properties so the Anchor Point goes back to its default, being in the middle of the layer. And you know it's not always convenient to have this Layer panel open up side by side with the Comp panel. So I'm going to re-dock it back into the same frame as the Comp panel, select the Comp panel to bring it forward, and focus on ways of editing the Anchor Point directly in the Comp panel, not the Layer panel. Well, one way to do that is to use a special tool called the Pan Behind tool.

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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
3h 1m Beginner Jan 26, 2011 Updated Nov 12, 2012

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In this course, Chris Meyer helps beginning After Effects artists take their animations to the next level. Chris shows how to refine animations to create elegant, coordinated movements with the minimum number of keyframes—as well as slam-downs, whip pans, and other attention-getters. Additional movies show how to reverse-engineer existing animations, create variations on a theme, and master other parts of the program. Even though this course is designed for beginners, even veterans should learn tricks that many experienced users are unaware of. Chris' friendly running commentary lets you in on his mental process as he works on an animation. Exercise files are included with the course.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how keyframes work under the hood
  • Controlling the Anchor Point to create more predictable animations
  • Mastering the Graph Editor for the ultimate control over keyframes
  • Animating parameters including motion paths
  • Hand-drawing motion paths to simplify complex movements
  • Applying and tweaking Motion Blur
  • Using Hold keyframes
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Exploring an alternate way to edit

I mentioned in the previous movie that there is a couple of different ways in editing an Anchor Point. I'd like to show those to you now. First I am going to reset the transform properties so the Anchor Point goes back to its default, being in the middle of the layer. And you know it's not always convenient to have this Layer panel open up side by side with the Comp panel. So I'm going to re-dock it back into the same frame as the Comp panel, select the Comp panel to bring it forward, and focus on ways of editing the Anchor Point directly in the Comp panel, not the Layer panel. Well, one way to do that is to use a special tool called the Pan Behind tool.

In fact, we even call it the Anchor Point tool. Its shortcut is Y. When you select it and move your cursor over the comp, you will notice that it has a special four-way arrow at the bottom. Now as I pick up the Anchor Point in the Comp panel and move it, you will notice the layer stays in its same position in the composition. But if you watch what's happening in the Timeline panel, both the Anchor Point value and the Position value are changing. That's because the Pan Behind tool is editing both of these values at the same time to draw the layer at the same apparent position inside the composition, even though its Position value is changing.

Now when I scrub scale, it's growing up from its base the way I want it to, and it's rotating from its base the way I want it to, but I did not have to go into the Layer panel. I could do all this directly in the Comp panel. Now the Pan Behind tool is great for moving the Anchor Point, but it can get you in trouble in other situations, so quickly switch back to the Selection tool as soon as you're done in moving that Anchor Point. Its shortcut is V. You can also edit the Anchor Point value numerically. Obviously, its value appears here in the Timeline panel, but there is an either more precise way of editing it.

If you right-click on the Anchor Point value and select Edit Value, you'll get this additional dialog. Not only does it contain the X and Y position of the Anchor Point, it contains this really useful Units pop-up. Click on it and select % of source. If you have a layer where you know you want the Anchor Point to be, say, in the upper-left corner, you can just say 0% X and 0% Y, and now the Anchor Point will be moved to the upper-left corner of that layer. Let's say you want it to be centered across the X dimension but placed at the bottom of the layer in the Y dimension.

That's 50, 100. Now I've got it centered at the very bottom of this layer. It so happens that the pixels of this layer don't start at the bottom of the entire layer itself. So I'm going to use a temporary tool. Press and hold Y to temporarily bring the Pan Behind tool, move it into place, release Y, release my mouse, and now the Anchor Point is in the right place, and I am back on my Selection tool. That trick of right-clicking on a value also works for position, by the way. Say, I want this new Anchor Point to now be at the bottom of my comp.

I can eyeball it, I can watch the Info panel, or I can right-click on the Position value, go Edit Value, change the Unit pop-ups, this time to not % of source, but % of composition. Now it's easy for me to say centered along the X on my composition, place at the very bottom in Y of my composition, click OK, and now my layer has been exactly positioned in the center-bottom of my comp, again, making it easy to grow animations, and little waving-in-breeze animations. So that's the basics of using the Anchor Point.

It's the center around all transformations. However, it has another useful trick up its sleeve. It's the best tool we use if you're trying to do a motion-control camera move and I'll show that next.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation.


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Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
 
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

Q: This course was updated on 11/09/2012. What changed?
A: We have updated the movie dealing with Time Display to be applicable to working with different versions of After Effects (from CS4 to CS6). We also added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, including the new exercise files designed for After Effects CS6.
 
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