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Setting the anchor point

From: After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

Video: Setting the anchor point

Before you start animating the transform properties for any layer, the first question you should ask yourself is where is that layer's Anchor Point? Is it in the correct place? Now you can practice this exercise with virtually any layer. If you happened to have the files that came with this lesson, open up Advanced Animation and double-click Comp 01-Anchor Point. It's blank to begin with. I'll twirl open Sources, select Flower.ai. And I'll use the keyboard shortcut of holding Command on Mac or Ctrl on Windows and typing forward slash.

Setting the anchor point

Before you start animating the transform properties for any layer, the first question you should ask yourself is where is that layer's Anchor Point? Is it in the correct place? Now you can practice this exercise with virtually any layer. If you happened to have the files that came with this lesson, open up Advanced Animation and double-click Comp 01-Anchor Point. It's blank to begin with. I'll twirl open Sources, select Flower.ai. And I'll use the keyboard shortcut of holding Command on Mac or Ctrl on Windows and typing forward slash.

That will center the layer in my composition and scale it to 100%. So I've got myself a nice graphical illustration of the flower, and say I want this thing to wave back and forth into breeze and maybe scale as if it's growing up in the ground. I'll twirl open the Properties for this layer, and I'll start editing say the scale. But as I scrub it, I see something that's not quite right. It's not scaling up from the bottom of the layer; it's scaling from the center of the layer. That ain't going to work. Let's try rotation. Same problem: it's not rotating from the bottom where it supposed to be rooted into the ground; it's rotating around the center of the layer.

This is for a very good reason. The Anchor Point, this little crosshair icon, defaults to the center of every layer, and the Anchor Point defines the center of rotation, scale and even the position value. So it's very important to know where that Anchor Point is in relationship to the rest of the layer. Now there are several different ways of editing the Anchor Point. One convenient way is to edit it in the Layer panel. To open up the Layer panel, double-click a layer and you'll get this alternate view.

It will be just that layer in isolation with its own timeline. The Layer panel defaults to docking to the same frame as the Composition, but quite often, you want to see these two side by side, so you'd either re-dock the Layer panel to be beside the composition. Or, if you like, you might even float it, undock it completely, Undock Panel, and now you can move it wherever you want. But position it somewhere where we see it both side by side. Now one of the reasons editing in the Layer panel is so handy is because you can focus on what you are editing.

This View pop-up defines what you are seeing and what you were editing in the Layer panel. I'll select the Anchor Point path, and now as I put my cursor over the Anchor Point in the Layer panel and start to move it towards the base of the flower, watch what's happening in the Comp panel to the right. The flower seems to be levitating up the screen. But if you look down at the Position value below, Position is not changing. What's going on here? Well, the Position value says, where is this layer in relation to the Composition? I can't define every single pixel of a layer, so it has to define where the Anchor Point is in relationship to the comp.

As I move the Anchor Point in the Layer panel, you will notice it's not moving in the Comp panel; in other words, the position is not changing. What is changing is how this layer is going to be drawn in relationship to the Anchor Point. Here I am saying draw this layer upward from where my Anchor Point position is, down at the base of the flower. Once you've done that, then you can go to the Comp panel and drag flower back to whatever position you want it to be in. I'll put it around here for now.

Now when I go scrub values like scale, it's going to behave exactly the way I expect it, growing up from the ground. And as I scrub rotation, it's going to rotate from the position where it's rooted in the ground. It's going to behave the way that I expect, but only because I moved the Anchor Point from its default position, and that's why it's so important.

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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

32 video lessons · 23271 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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