General Specialist

2008-03-06

Locking After Effects' Layers So They Can't Be Moved

UPDATE:You can lock the position with a script put together by Jalea. If you want to lock more properties, Jeff Almasol (scripter extraordinaire) pointed out that Nab has a script that locks/unlocks all properties. Also, check out his plug-in experiments and scripting experiments. Truly amazing!

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When you lock a layer in After Effects, you don't just lock the position; you can't do anything with it at all. This is particularly frustrating when you have Adjustment layers, Solids and Mattes where you want to tweak effects but you definitely don't want the layer to be nudged (which is easily done just by selecting it.)

This is often a problem in complex compositions where you can spend hours figuring out what went wrong when you accidentally moved a layer. Users of node-based compositing program (i.e. almost all others, like Shake, Fusion, and Nuke) find this extra irritating since this never happens when you work with nodes.

Here's how to make sure your layers can't be moved:
  • Select the layer you want to save from accidental moves.

  • Hit P on your keyboard to reveal the Position property.


  • Hold down the Alt or Option key and click the stopwatch to create an expression on the Position property.


  • Look at the current position values for the layer, and enter the same values like this, depending on if it is a 2D or 3D layer:


  • Click outside the layer, or hit the Enter key on your numerical keypad.

If you animate masks and rotoscoping, this is almost a must-use tip, since AE is so sensitive to where you click on mask handles.

- Jonas

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