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How to Move an Anchor Point in After Effects

How to Move an Anchor Point in After Effects

There are a lot of powerful tools you can use to transform your video projects in Adobe’s After Effects software studio. Not only can you add assets and animations in layers like you do in graphic programs like Photoshop, you can also make transformations in real time as the video runs. Regardless of the type of transformation you’re setting up, you need to know how to move an anchor point in After Effects if you’re going to fine-tune that transformation, so your project really pops.

What Is an Anchor Point?

The anchor point is the point that your transformations revolve around. Since animation is a kind of transformation, it’s necessary to set an anchor point as a kind of “center of gravity” before starting an animation effect. Without it, there’s no central point of reference for the animation, so there’s no way for the program to apply it consistently and with the motion you intend as a creator. Since you have to place it before setting up your animation, it’s pretty common to have to move it as you fine-tune the final visual that will appear in your video.

How to Move the Anchor Point

Trying to simply move the anchor point in the transform menu will typically move the entire layer around, which you don’t want to do most of the time when you need to adjust that anchor. Instead, you want the layer to remain where it is and the moved anchor to change the behavior of your effect. To do that:
  • Activate the Pan-Behind tool. This allows you to move the anchor point without moving the layer. The keyboard shortcut is Y.
  • Drag and move the anchor point as you wish to reposition it. As long as the Pan-Behind tool is selected, it won’t move the layer with it.
  • Deselect the Pan-Behind tool.

That’s all you need to do to set the anchor point in a new location without worrying about moving the layer.

More Tips for Great Animations

Remember that most of the time, your anchor point should be roughly at the center of the layer it’s operating on. You’ll also want to check out other tutorials to learn how to apply the individual animation effects you’ll need to bring your videos to life. Setting the anchor point is just step one, after all. Don’t forget that to create great animations and post-production effects, you need great assets. Shutterstock has hundreds of millions of stock photos ready for transformation into foundational parts of your next project. Start searching for your next visual asset today.
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