In After Effects, there's lots of times I've used the Parent feature (e.g., limbs of a body). However, I've run into an issue several times where I'd like the child layer to be still while the parent continues to move, and I sure hope there's an easier way to do that than by eye.

For example, say an animated character is landing on the ground. Once hitting the ground, their feet (terminal child layer) are stationary, but their body (topmost parent layer) keeps moving down for a moment. I've included this example as a gif below.

I can handle this by eye, or mathematically (manually keeping track of the arithmetic to try to keep the foot mostly still), but that's pretty tedious and is hard to edit later if things need to change. I'm hoping I'm missing a feature I don't know about.

To be clear, it would be really nice to maintain the parent-child relationship between layers in a solution to this issue if at all possible. Thanks!

guy falling as described above

  • 1
    There isn't really an in-built way to do this in AE. However, getting the feet to stick isn't too difficult to do with expressions, which I'd be happy to help you with. But, since you said that this is something that has come up several times for you, I'd suggest teaching yourself character rigging. There are plenty of tutorials online and free extensions, such as the amazing 'Duik Bassel'. rxlaboratory.org/tools/duik
    – Clif
    Feb 28 at 23:37
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    Getting the knees to bend through expressions is also doable, but much trickier than getting the feet to stick.
    – Clif
    Feb 28 at 23:39
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    What you're describing is inverse kinematics, or IK. Tools like DUIK (free) do this for you.
    – stib
    Mar 1 at 22:05
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    Thanks very much to you both, I will start learning DUIK, it seems very useful. Also @Clif, thanks for the tip to look into expressions. I imagine something like this will get me started, yeah? Or do you recommend another resource?
    – TimH
    Mar 9 at 3:08
  • That really depends on how you prefer to learn. I prefer video, so YouTube is my go-to. Just type in 'After Effects Expressions' and you should find plenty of resources. If you are serious about learning after effects, expressions will be a great tool for solving problems, like this, that regularly arise. You should also start to keep a text file handy where you can enter your regularly used expressions. I also really like watching videos like this (youtube.com/watch?v=gK1Ejt7qND0) which show you some very useful expressions that I often used during my professional work.
    – Clif
    Mar 9 at 17:12


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