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When you create animations with Position keyframes, when you have the layers selected, you may notice this line that pops up in your viewer. This line is letting you know that there is spatial data and Position keyframes set on your canvas. Even though it's a visual representation of what's going on, it's also another way to control your animations. So let me show you exactly what I'm talking about. If we scrub back through here, you notice, okay, well, I've got a box here and I've got these dots moving along, and here I'll just move up a second, and you can see I have a second box there.
Each one of these is actually one of the keyframes. You can click directly on the boxes and move them around and notice down here, my Position data is changing, because I'm actually moving that keyframe. Let me just undo that last move. You also have Bezier handles on these lines as well, and they're kind of hard to see. So what I'm going to do is actually create a curvy animation here and then I'll show you the handles. So if I want this object to start up here and then kind of curve out here and then come back down, it might make sense to move your playhead kind of in the middle where you'd want the new keyframe to be set, and just move the shape.
So you want to do that, and now I can more clearly see the Bezier handles. So if you just click and drag, notice now I'm changing the motion path of this object. If we preview this, you'll notice it's not the smoothest animation. Let me just stop playback there. Since you have these Bezier handles, as a general rule, whenever you're trying to create a path that kind of has curves, you want to do it with as few keyframes as possible. It's just going to make things move that much more smoothly.
So let's actually select this middle keyframe and press Delete. Now if I click directly on one of the keyframes, I can adjust the Bezier handles, and notice I can still get kind of a nice S curve just by adjusting the motion path. If we add Ease on the beginning and the end of these, you can accentuate the motion and the velocity making the little dots along the line here change in their space. But for now let's check this animation out.
So as you can see it's much more smooth. But I know you're thinking to yourself, well, what if I want to actually have, I don't know, a complex path? Like, what if I want this to move in a perfect circle? Well I'm not going to sit there and try and frame out each individual section of the animation and then make a perfect circle. That would take forever. But what you can do is actually use any masks or any paths, like straight out of Illustrator, or Photoshop, or even here on my background gradient; if I press M, I can open up my Masks and here you can see out the Mask Path that I have already drawn.
I drew it with the Ellipse tool up here. This mask isn't doing anything, because it's set to do nothing at the None setting. So what I can do is actually select this Mask Path if I want, let's say, this object to move on this circle. So when I select it, I can go up under Edit and choose Copy, and now let's select the blue shape and instead of having it travel along this path, let's delete those Position keyframes, and I'll move my current-time indicator to the beginning of the timeline and press Command+V, which is Paste.
Now since I had Position-selected it, it automatically placed that animation as Position keyframes and you'll notice it created several keyframes. And notice I have a linear keyframe here and a linear keyframe here. If I just click on one of them I can stretch out the keyframes, because these ones in-between here are roving keyframes. And if you need a refresher on all the different kinds of keyframes, definitely go back and watch the first video on this chapter. But as you can see, when you paste animation paths you can actually create custom animations relatively quickly.
Now there's one last tip I want to give you when you're pasting animation paths. Instead of pasting it directly to the object, you might want to try pasting to a Null Object. Let me show you what I'm talking about. Let's delete these Position keyframes for this blue shape. I'm going to go up under Layer and choose New Null Object. Now open the Position data for this Null Object by pressing P, and then select the position and press Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste those keyframes.
Now the Null Object is going to travel along this path. What this does, it allows me to take this blue object and make it the child of the Null. So select the blue layer and grab your pick whip under the Parent section. If you don't see Parent in your timeline, right-click up in this gray bar and go to Columns and make sure it's active. I'm going to click on the pick whip and point it up to Null 2. Notice the Null is going to move, but now also my shape is moving.
What this is going to allow me to do--I can move my current-time indicator to let's say, the left side of the circle, and now I can actually start offsetting the motion of this animation. So for example, if I wanted this to drift to the left I could just click and drag on the X parameter to the left and set my first keyframe. Now if we rewind back to the top, it's kind of offset. So I just want to set that back to 0. So now as it travels along the path it's going to kind of spin out sideways.
So we could go around and continue adding that to the other parts of the path, but what I want to do is just deselect a layer and preview our animation. So as you can see it's drifting off the path. If you want to see it a little bit better, go ahead and select your Position keyframes. That way when you scrub through the timeline here, you can see how it's drifting off the path. Now I definitely encourage you to keep going through this and making adjustments to your blue shape just so you can kind of get a better grasp on how much extra control you can get by using custom animation paths and parenting with a Null Object.
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