Adobe After Effects Basics - Null Objects

User avatarMarch 12, 2014 by Surfaced Studio

What is a Null object?

A lot of people tend to be mystified by Null objects, not only because of their name but also because they are invisible and by themselves they have no effect whatsoever. Null objects are just marker with a position, rotation and scale that you can place in your scene either as a 2D or 3D layers. They are represented in After Effects by little red squares with 9 handles that you can use to transform them.

What are Null objects for?

Null objects are used as helper objects to mark or control other visual elements in your composition. You can parent other elements to a Null object to control the movement of the child layers by transforming the parent. This allows you to control groups of visual elements with a single Null object layer.

Null objects are usually used to store position data from motion tracking. Check out my motion tracking tutorial if you want to learn how to track your scene and apply the data to a Null object. Once you have a Null object that follows some visual element in your scene, you can parent other elements, like explosions and fire, to it and they will also follow the movement of the camera.

Let's have a look at Null objects and how you create and use them in detail.

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7 Comments

User avatar
Kurt
5 Years Ago
July 5, 2014 @ 16:15 am

You have a real talent for teaching, especially with, what can be, complex operations. I like to have my AE open and follow along with what you are doing and try it my self. I use AE just for fun, not commercially, but enjoy learning new things. Keep up the great work!

User avatar
5 Years Ago
July 6, 2014 @ 21:30 am

Thank you very much for the awesome feedback!

User avatar
VH
3 Years Ago
March 17, 2016 @ 9:44 pm

Thanks for your awesome tutorials. I'm learning easily from you.

Cheers from Argentina!

User avatar
b
2 Years Ago
February 5, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

Hi,

Nice tutes.

Are you able to provide the AEP files and assets as well for us as well?

cheers

User avatar
2 Years Ago
February 8, 2017 @ 23:07 am

Thanks, I have a lot of downloads for sample files on my tutorials. I usually don't provide the AE file since people can just follow along to create the effects anyways

User avatar
D'Anthony Charlton
1 Year Ago
July 28, 2018 @ 15:43 am

Where did you get those ring objects from? I've been looking for them for an effect in one of my videos. Thanks!

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ D'Anthony Charlton
9 Months Ago
November 11, 2018 @ 17:52 am

I created them myself after watching this Video Copilot tutorial on advanced spinning VFX: https://www.videocopilot.net/tutorials/advanced_spin_fx
My version is super ugly in comparison, but it was sufficient for what I needed it to do

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