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Source-less Null Objects

Community Beginner ,
May 25, 2023 May 25, 2023

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I've recently gotten into scripting and realised that creating masses upon masses of null objects just fills up the solids folder. The alternative is to use shape layers, but these don't behave the way I'd like. For example, when you hide UI controls, null objects are also hidden. Even if you make a shape layer a guide layer After Effects still renders it (unless it's nested in another comp).

 

Void from Battle Axe is evidence of nulls/solids being a general annoyance of a number of After Effects users. (Solids do come in handy though, let's keep those)

My idea is kind of an overhaul of how Null objects are created. They wouldn't have a source solid layer, instead would just exist similar to shape layers.

 

They would behave as they currently do:

  • Able to be hidden when UI is turned off
  • Retain the smalled dotted line texture that maintains scale regardless of zoom level

With some additions:

  • Size parameter: also with the addition of more 3D features in After Effects, having a 3rd dimension to 3D null objects would be cool too.
  • Accessible to scripting, meaning they can be created and have parameters set (I know this can be done already, a more relevant example would be trying to drag in a null object from the project panel, which is just a solid and doesn't retain the null UI hiding benefit. Only other solution is to duplicate one from within a comp, which isn't perfect depending on the use case).
  • Maybe an option to change the shape from a square to circle or rounded rectangle or shape primitive. This would just be a nice to have though, not totally necessary.

 

Bottom line, let's stop filling up the project panel with 100x100 squares!

 

If there's technical reasons for why it is the way it is, I'd be interested to hear that too. Thanks!

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Scripting , UI and UX

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1 Comment
LEGEND ,
May 25, 2023 May 25, 2023

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It goes back to when they were first introduced as a derivative of solids. There you have it. changing any of that would require a completely new implementation most likely, not just a bit of UI cosmetics.

 

Mylenium

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