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Using an anchor point path

From: After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

Video: Using an anchor point path

There are a few more tricks to keep in mind when you're trying to animate the Anchor Point. One thing that may be confusing is that I've animated my Anchor Point in the Layer panel, but of course my final stage is my Comp panel. And I have my Layer panel forward, I am trying to do a RAM Preview. It's not going to be very interesting because it's just looking at this layer, which happens to be a still image. If I want to preview this animation, I need to make sure the Comp panel is forward, either by clicking on its center or along its tab at top, and then RAM Preview, and now I'll see the result of the animation I created in the Layer panel.

Using an anchor point path

There are a few more tricks to keep in mind when you're trying to animate the Anchor Point. One thing that may be confusing is that I've animated my Anchor Point in the Layer panel, but of course my final stage is my Comp panel. And I have my Layer panel forward, I am trying to do a RAM Preview. It's not going to be very interesting because it's just looking at this layer, which happens to be a still image. If I want to preview this animation, I need to make sure the Comp panel is forward, either by clicking on its center or along its tab at top, and then RAM Preview, and now I'll see the result of the animation I created in the Layer panel.

The other thing that's different is when you edited the position, you could edit its motion path directly in the Comp panel. But again, when you're editing the Anchor Point, you need to edit its motion path in the Layer panel. This actually isn't so bad because you get to see the two side by side. You get to see the overview of the entire scene in Layer panel and the result of your work in the Comp panel. Let's say I decide I want to follow the arc of this track, so I'll go to this first keyframe, look for its Bezier handle, and pull it out to get a curve. If I couldn't see that Bezier handle, I can press G to get the Convert Vertex tool and pull it out as well, and get it roughly on a bend so it goes around this track.

Let's go ahead and edit this point as well. Again, this dot's hard to find. There it is. But I could just hold G and pull it out like that. Now that I've got that path roughed out, I can bring my Comp panel forward and RAM-preview, and that's my rough first animation move. Not too bad. It looks like I need to come out a little bit further to get on the cars. If I want to see that result, rather than having to go back and forth and select Windows, there is a handy little button at the bottom of the Comp panel.

It is the Always Preview This View button. So I'm going to turn that on for the Comp panel. That way even if the Layer panel is forward, if I press zero to RAM Preview, it's the Comp panel that's going to preview instead. So that's the nice little option down at the bottom of the Comp panel. Okay, I've got roughly the path I am intending, but you know I'd like to refine the keyframe velocity. In the next chapter, I will be going into the Graph Editor where you can really refine the velocity. Let's just do something quick and dirty. I'll select these two keyframes and press F9 to get Easy Ease.

I'll even select my last two keyframes. If I can't remember that shortcut, I can always go to Animation > Keyframe Assistant and select Easy Ease from there. Now that I've done that, I'll preview and I'll ease away from the green car, come around the bend, and ease into my final position. And that's really all there is to it. It does take a bit of fiddling to remember the Anchor Point's done in the Layer panel, in contrast to Position, which is done in the Comp panel. But once you get used to this idea of splitting your mind in two, it's actually a better way of working because you get the overview and you get the final result.

So now that we've mastered the center of animation, the Anchor Point, it's time to refine those animations with the best tool in toolbox, the Graph Editor.

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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

32 video lessons · 22530 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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