Adobe After Effects Forum
Changing Axis alignment
Changing Axis alignment
by James Nielson on Feb 28, 2019 at 10:16:51 pm

Is there a way to move and align a layer's axis in After Effects similar to what's available in Cinema 4D? I want to re-orient the axis without rotating the object, so that the layer's X is aligned with a feature in the artwork.

Re: Changing Axis alignment
by Steve Bentley on Mar 1, 2019 at 5:37:29 am

You could just parent the object to a 3D null that is already pointing the right direction (the null becomes the reoriented anchor point). Then you would have control animating in the direction you want while still having control over the object within the nest. Wherever the parent goes or points the child will follow. And the child can rotate independantly of the parent if you like.

The issue with 3D layers in AE is that they really aren't true 3D layers. So the anchor widget is fixed in its orientation in reference to the flat plane that is the layer. You can offset the anchor position in the x and y axis, but up is always Y. You'll notice that the pan behind tool, that lets you move the anchor point around, doesn't work on the Z axis because that "3D" layer has no depth. So if you could reorient the axis, as you can in C4d, the X or Y might have to point into a dimension that isn't actually there (enter Rod Serling with the music!)

This is not the case inside Element3D where you are actually using 3D objects, but remember Element is then rendered and placed on a flat plane in the layers list, so it is doable inside Element but Element is its own 3D world. (hence the name)

Re: Changing Axis alignment
by James Nielson on Mar 3, 2019 at 3:15:39 am

Correct, Steve. It's like the pan-behind tool had a cousin that could rotate the axis. I tried the null-parenting and it works swell. Thanks. Not the 1-stop fix C4D has, but simple enough.

If anyone's interested in (but still confused about) what I'm trying to accomplish, I have a layer with some artwork that is drawn at an angle. The axis is aligned with the layer orientation, not the artwork's visual orientation, making accurate, single-axis rotation difficult.

James Nielson

Re: Changing Axis alignment
by Michael Szalapski on Mar 1, 2019 at 9:34:06 pm

You can move the anchor point, yes. There's the anchor point/pan behind tool that's quite useful. See this page [link] for more info.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

Re: Changing Axis alignment
by Steve Bentley on Mar 2, 2019 at 12:39:21 am

I think the OP wants to rotate the widget so that the layer can be zero'ed out with it pointing in a new direction. I'm not aware of being able to use the pan behind tool or similar to change the rotation offset. If there was the anchor point attribute would have to have a rotation value as well as position.