Join Todd Kopriva for an in-depth discussion in this video Layer bounding boxes and selection indicators, part of After Effects CS6 New Features Overview.
After Effects CS6 makes it much easier to select and transform layers in the Composition panel. New layer bounding boxes and new transform handles make it easier to scale and rotate objects, both 2D and 3D layers. Let's see how it works, open the dancers file in the Assets Folder. And in the depth of field composition, move the mouse pointer around in the Composition panel. And look for the little wire frame corners that appear. For example here, when I have the mouse pointer over this cog, blue wire frame corners appear.
Telling me that if I were to click It's this layer that would be selected. Now, if I move over this cog, the red corners tell me that if I click it's this layer that will be selected. Notice that the color of the Layer controls, the corners and the wire frames, corresponds to the color in the label in the Timeline panel. If I move the mouse pointer over this per character 3D text animation I see little tiny corners, for each letter.
If you think that this is too much visual clutter and you'd rather not see the little corners for every single letter. Go to Edit > Preferences > Previews, and click Show Internal Wireframes to deselect it. Actually I'd like to leave this on, so I'll check that again, and click OK. If you don't want to see the layer handles in the Composition panel at all, even if only temporarily. Press Ctrl + Shift H, that's Cmd Shift + H on Mac OS, and that hides all Layer controls.
Press the A again, brings them back. Let's look at a much simpler composition to see exactly how to layer bounding boxes and layer handles work. Double-click in the Project panel on the 03 Text Composition, and here we have a single Text layer, and a couple of lights. Again, if I place my pointer over this layer I see these corners that show me which will be selected. I click, and I select the front face.
Note that I can click and have any of the faces selected. Which face is selected actually matters. As I'll demonstrate here, if I have the front face sleected and I drag this handle the layer scaled lenghtwise side to side. But if I have the side face slected and I drag the same handle the layer scales backward and forward. Here, if I grab this handle, drag up and down, or side to side, whichever way I'm dragging, the layer's scaled up and down. If I select the top face and drag with the same handle, the scaling happens lengthwise.
If instead of dragging one of the handles, I simply drag the layer from within one of the rectangles, I change the position. And if I switch to the Rotation tool, either by clicking or by pressing W, I can rotate. Notice that when I position the Rotation tool over one of the handles. It will say y or x or z. This tells me which axis the rotation will occur around.
If I drag here, rotation is happening around the Layer Z axis. Here it says x. And the rotation is occurring around the layer's X axis and Y. I'll now switch to Wire Frame mode. Click the fast Previews button and switch to Wire frame. And now we just see a Wire frame representation. Notice, that this V Upside-down view rather more of a triangle is showing us which way is up. This dot shows us the center of the front face.
So now, no matter which way we spin this box around, we know which way is up for the layer, and where the center of the front face is. I'll turn Final Quality back on. Now let's look at one more manipulation that we can do in the Composition panel. Notice that when we rotate a layer it's rotating around the anchor point, this point right here. We can move the anchor point with the Pen Behind tool. Click to activate the Pen Behind tool. Then drag the layer point.
Now if I switch back to the Rotate tool by pressing W, rotation will happen around that new anchor point. Very often you want to snap the anchor point to some part of the bounding box. So I'll choose the Pan Behind tool and begin to drag and after I've begun to drag I'll hold Ctrl. That's Cmd on Mac OS, and you can see the thick lines show up, or hollow boxes.
To indicate where anchor point will snap to if I let it go. So, I'll snap the anchor point here. And then the centre of this face, let go. Now I'll go back to the Rotate tool and when I do a rotation, it happens around that point. So again, that was using the Pen Behind tool, begin to drag the anchor point. And after you've began to drag, hold Ctrl, and drop when you see a thick line or hollow box indicating a snapping point.
So those are the new features for manipulating and selecting layers in a Composition panel. Including 3D bounding boxes and easier to use layer handles.
- 3D animation
- User interface changes and removed features