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Exploring an alternate way to edit

From: After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

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.

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.

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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

32 video lessons · 22837 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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