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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this chapter, we're going to look at powerful ways to create relationships between layers. In this video, we're going to look at a feature called parenting, which allows one layer or a set of layers to control other layers. So, we have this knight character here and here are the layers that we're seeing right now. There are actually several more that are currently not soloed. I want to keep them shy for right now, and we're going to animate the right arm here. Now there are several pieces. There's the right mid-arm.
There is the right shoulder. There is the sword. There is the right hand, and there is the right forearm. They are all separate layers right now. If I were to, for example, select the right shoulder layer, hit R for Rotation, and rotate this as if I wanted to move his arm, it would rotate that right shoulder only. So, what I need to do is to create a relationship between the right shoulder and the rest of the arm. I also want the sword to be part of that relationship so that when I move the right shoulder, the entire arm including the sword is raised.
So, the way that we do this is by creating a parent-child relationship. So, the shoulder would be the parent of the right mid arm layer. The right mid arm layer would be the parent of the right forearm layer, which would be the parent of the hand, which would be the parent of the sword. So, the way that this works again is that the parent object when it moves the child object follows as well. Now we could still move the child independently with the parent. But when the parent moves, the child follows. It's important that before we set up this relationship we get the anchor points for these layers where they ought to be.
So, I'm going to select the right shoulder and the anchor point looks about right. I might hold down the Y key and move that over just a little bit. We want this to be at the joint that they will bend and move. I'll select the right mid arm next. I am going to hold the letter Y on the keyboard and move this to about right here. That's where I believe we want that joint to move as well. We'll select the right forearm. We're going to hold the letter Y and move the anchor point to about that elbow, and then for the right hand we want the anchor point to be about where the wrist would be.
And for the sword, we will hold the letter Y and move it to about where the hand is. So, now with the anchor points in place, we're ready to create the parenting relationship. The way that we do this is that we start with the child and then determine its parent. So, I'm going to start with the sword and then we want to make sure that the Parent column is showing. If its not, you could right-click at the top of this bar of the Timeline panel, go to Columns and show Parent. If it is showing, what I'm going to do is click this little pick whip. It looks like an inverted at sign, and I'm going to select it from the sword layer and click and drag this pick whip to the right hand layer.
So, now the right hand is the parent of the sword. So, the sword still moves independently, and I want to undo that with Command or Control+Z, but when I click and drag on the hand and I move that around, the sword goes along for the ride, very cool. Let's just undo that again and let's go ahead and select the right hand that we want to parent the right hand and the parent the right hand to be the right forearm. I want the parent of the right forearm to be the right mid arm. So, I'm going to click the pick whip as it's called and drag it to the right mid arm.
By the way, if you get a little squiggly line, for example if you drag a pick whip to an incorrect layer or somewhere in a blank space like this, you will get this little spaghetti thing and that just indicates that it is not a valid parent relationship. So, you might need to choose another layer or be more accurate with your pick whip selection. Next, I'm going to parent the right mid arm to the right shoulder and if everything is correct, then we should have a correct parenting relationship. The right shoulder we could parent to the body.
We're not going to take it to that step. I'm just going to rotate now the right shoulder, and that's exactly what I wanted to happen. So, now all the layers have this relationship between them and they're all doing what the parent is doing. And since the right shoulder is the parent of this layer, which is the parent of this layer, which is the parent of this layer, which is the parent of the sword, then they are all following suit. So, if I were to now take this back, I could go and select the right mid arm press R for Rotation and rotate this a little bit and then rotate the right forearm. Press R and rotate the right forearm there and maybe R for the right hand, rotate this.
So, now we could see that we have a parent-child relationship with all of these layers. They are connected and they will be much easier to animate and control. Now the parenting relationship controls four attributes. So, if I were to go to the right shoulder-- Actually let's close up the other layers so this is less confusing here. If you go to the right shoulder, and I press S for Scale. You notice that Scale controls the others as well. So if I scale up the right shoulder, all those other layers also scale. If you want to give him mega-right arm. I could also hit P for Position and then they are controlled by Position as well and if I hit A for Anchor Point if I adjust the Anchor Point, it adjusts all of them also.
So, those four attributes: Position, Anchor Point, Scale and Rotation, all of those were controlled and affected by the parenting relationship but no other attributes. For example, if I were to select the right shoulder layer and press T for Opacity and I reduce the opacity of the shoulder, you see that none of the other layers fade out as well. Same thing with effects. There's no way to affect child layers other than those four core attributes we talked about: Position, Anchor point, Rotation and Scale. Later on in this chapter, we will talk about expressions, which is a way that will allow you to connect other properties of different layers.
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