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Using the Create Orbit Null feature

From: After Effects CS5.5 New Features

Video: Using the Create Orbit Null feature

The orbit null is a simple addition in After Effects that solves what for many has been an annoying problem: how to easily orbit a camera around an object or a scene. So here we have just a simple 3D object and a camera and to this camera I will add an orbit null simply by right-clicking. I could also do this from the Layer menu and choosing the Camera submenu > Create Orbit Null. Now just to make sure I don't move that layer, I'm going to lock that and in fact I will lock the camera as well so I'm just working with that null, and I have my Rotate tool selected up here and I can rotate around and let's take a look in 2 Views to see what's happening.

Using the Create Orbit Null feature

The orbit null is a simple addition in After Effects that solves what for many has been an annoying problem: how to easily orbit a camera around an object or a scene. So here we have just a simple 3D object and a camera and to this camera I will add an orbit null simply by right-clicking. I could also do this from the Layer menu and choosing the Camera submenu > Create Orbit Null. Now just to make sure I don't move that layer, I'm going to lock that and in fact I will lock the camera as well so I'm just working with that null, and I have my Rotate tool selected up here and I can rotate around and let's take a look in 2 Views to see what's happening.

There you have the camera and it's orbiting around that null. Now it would make a little more sense if the null was at the center of the scene, so let me unlock the shape layer and get its position property with P key I'll select that and copy it and paste it to that null. Now the null is right at the center of the scene and now I am orbiting around center of the object. I can of course pull the camera back-- and maybe it will be simpler to look at this back in one view-- and do whatever I like and I'm free to move the camera around as well.

It's still going to orbit around that null and so it's easy to create something like a 360 orbit around this just by going into the Rotation here and starting with a zero X value and then ending up with one full rotation. Now it doesn't matter whether my camera is a one or two node camera. I'll just unlock it and change it to 2-node camera and nothing is different about the scene, so orbit nulls are a nice timesaver to set up a popular type of After Effects animation.

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After Effects CS5.5 New Features

30 video lessons · 9076 viewers

Mark Christiansen
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