Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Grouping layers, part of After Effects Apprentice 15: Creating a Sports Opening Title.
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We have opened up Main Comp 2*starter, and in the previous movie we set it to 4 Views. Feel free to set it to something different such as 2 Views - Horizontal, or if you like, you can even go all the way down to one 1 View and just switch your 3D View pop-up to change what you are looking at any given moment. I'm going to work in 2 Views Horizontal right now. I will make my Right View my Active Camera, my Left View the View from the top of my world. These two video walls form two faces of an imaginary cube. Ideally, I want to spin this imaginary cube on its imaginary center.
I am going to select the Glider layer, which is one video wall, then hold down Command on Mac, or Ctrl on Windows, to click on Windsurfer and select that as well. What I can start to do with this composition, I placed the anchor points for both of those video walls on their corners to make it easy for me to align them to the exact same point. I can use this positional information to help me determine where to put another layer to rotate these layers around. Whenever you want to treat a group of layers as if there are one unit, an excellent tool is Layer > New > Null Object, and there it is initially in 2D in the middle of my viewers.
I am going to go ahead and select Layer > Solid Settings, because Nulls really are just a variation on solid. And rename this Null Parent so I can keep track of it. I'm going to enable its 3D layer switch, and then I am going to press P to reveal its position. If you cannot see it immediately in your Top view, there is a chance it's off-screen. You can do a couple of different things such as do a view, Look at All layers. You can go ahead and press C to bring a Camera tools and zoom in or out on the slide to make it visible, or you can just scrub it back in Z space to put it closer to an area in-between those two video walls, like around there.
I am going to press V to return back to the Selection tool. Next, I need to determine a good position for this Null object. I am going to select one of the video layers the Glider layer, press P to reveal its position, copy it, and temporarily paste it to the position of Null object. So these are all starting from the same point. Now I need to offset it half of the size of the video wall in X and half dimension in Z. Well, you may remember when Trish showed you how to create those video walls that their dimension is 650 pixels wide and if you forgot that, you can just go ahead and select Glider over here in the Project panel and look at its dimension here at the top of the panel 650.
Okay, once we know that, we can actually let After Effects do the math for us. For the X position, we want to take that initial X in that corner and move back to the left, 650 pixels divided by 2--half the width of that layer. I press Enter and After Effects has automatically done the math for me to decide that should be 425 pixels. Same for the Z dimension. So I want to push back in space. I need to remind myself which direction to go. Let me see. Scrubbing it, I need it to go in the positive direction.
So I need to add half the width of this panel to get this back in right position. I will undo, move my cursor to the right, and say +650 pixels, which is the width, divided by 2, press Enter, 825. Now I am exactly in the middle of this wall, and the middle of that wall, the middle of our imaginary cube. The next trick is selecting all of the layers that need to be parented to that Null. I want to select all of text layers since I want them to move as units. I am going to select the Glider layer and one of the video walls.
I don't mean to select Glider Reflection, because it's already been parented to the main Glider layer. So it's fine. But I do need to hold Command or Ctrl and also select the Windsurfer layer to make sure that comes along. You can use the Pick Whip tool to drag up to the Null object, or you can use the pop-up for anyone of the selected layers, pick Null Parent, and they all will receive that parent. To keep things straight, I might even drag Null Parent down here closer to these layers just to group things together a bit better. Now if I press R for Null Parent to reveal its Orientation and Rotation. If I rotate it in Y, the axis that goes vertically through it. You will see that all those elements now move as a group. That's great.
In next movie we will use this Null to go ahead and animate the rotation of all those elements in time with the music.
The After Effects Apprentice series was created by Trish and Chris Meyer. These tutorials are designed for After Effects CS4 through CC, and can be used on their own or as a companion to the Meyer's book, After Effects Apprentice.
- Building a 3D world
- Working with layered Illustrator files
- Synchronizing to music
- Using text animation presets
- Rendering strategies
- Working with widescreen video, including 4:3 center cut and safe area considerations