Anchor Point in After Effects is that point along which a layer scales or rotates in 2 dimensional as well as 3 dimensional space. Whenever you create a text layer in After Effects, the Anchor point is based on paragraph alignment setting and one way to centre it is to change the paragraph alignment to centre.
Though this brings the Anchor Point to the middle of your text, still you’ll notice that it’s not perfectly centred. One manual method of doing so is by using the Pan Behind Tool, Keyboard Shortcut ‘Y‘ and dragging the Anchor Point to the exact centre of the text. Refer to the GIF below.
There are two other methods apart from the manual one to centre the Anchor Point of a text; Script method and Expression method. The script works with all versions of After Effects but the expression one can only be used with the latest After Effects CC 2014.2 update.
Move Anchor Point Script
Move Anchor Point is a free After Effects Script that allows you to quickly move the Anchor point of a text or any other layer to a new location. The anchor point can be moved to one of nine preset positions including the centre.
Installing the Script
- In the .zip file you downloaded, you will see the ‘Move Anchor Point.jsx’ and the ‘map_images’ folder. Select and copy both.
- You need to paste them into the ‘ScriptUI Panels’ folder for your version of After Effects.
For Windows users: Windows: C:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe After Effects YOUR VERSION/Support Files/Scripts/ScriptUI Panels
For Mac users: ~/Applications/Adobe After Effects YOUR VERSION/Scripts/ScriptUI Panels
- Now start up After Effects. You will see ‘Move Anchor Point.jsx’ at the bottom of the ‘Window’ menu. Select it to open the Move Anchor Point panel. If After Effects was already open, you must restart the program before it will be visible in the ‘Window’ menu.
You can also run the script by going into File > Scripts > Run Script File, browse to the location where you downloaded the files and run Move Anchor Point jsx file.
Using the Script
You have a few options when using Move Anchor Point. The main way is to use one of the nine presets.
Each of these black icons represents a different point on the layer. Simply select your layer, or multiple layers, then click on one of the buttons and your anchor point will snap to that position.
To centre the Anchor point of a text layer, click on the centre icon and the script will automatically align the anchor point to the centre of your text.
You have to realign the position of Anchor Point to the centre whenever you change the font size of the text. The only down side of this script is that you have to use it every time the text size is changed.
What if we want the Anchor Point to remain at the centre no matter how much we increase or decrease the text size. Well, the solution is in a one liner expression.
Expression to Centre the Anchor Point
This expression can be used to set the Anchor Point of a text layer to it’s exact centre. It solves one of the major problems with text layers and their anchor point position. To use this expression, be sure you are on the latest After Effects CC 2014.2 update or else you won’t be able to run it.
Anchor Point Expression:
Using the Expression
To use this expression,
- Select your Text Layer and hit ‘A‘ on your keyboard to open the Anchor Point properties.
- Hold down ‘ALT‘ on your keyboard and click on the Stop Watch.
- Delete ‘transform.anchorPoint‘ from the text field and write in the Anchor Point Expression given above.
That’s all you need to centre the Anchor Point of a text layer. Now, whenever you change the text size, the Anchor Point will always remain at the centre. Note that this expression will only work with the latest update of After Effects Creative Cloud.
For older versions of After Effects, you can use the Move Anchor Point Script.