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The 'Pan Behind' Tool in Adobe After Effects

Keyframing content beneath a mask to create a magnify effect By Dave Nagel
This is a somewhat obscure technique for Adobe After Effects, not because it's particularly difficult, but because it rarely comes up. Nevertheless, it's a handy one to know should the need arise. You have a mask on a layer, and you need to animate the layer's content while leaving the mask fixed in place. How do you do it? We'll walk through a simple project to see how it works.
The key to this process is simply knowing which tool to use and which parameters to keyframe. The tool is the Pan Behind tool; and the parameters to keyframe are the Mask Shape and the layer's Position. And here's how it works.

Basic project setup
For our sample project, we'll create a composition that simulates a magnify effect on a layer, in this case magnifying the words on a fictitious newspaper, using a mask, two layers and a simple Expression. (You can download my sample project by clicking here.)

To do this, we'll have two layers on top of a black canvas: a newspaper layer at reduced size ("newspaperbg") and a magnified duplicate of the newspaper layer in the foreground ("newspaperforeground").

I'll scale the foreground up to about 180 percent for my magnify effect, and I'll make it into a 3D layer and angle it just a little bit (X Rotation -24, Y Rotation +27) to add a little interest. And I'll turn down the opacity of the background layer ("newspaperbg") to about 34 percent to de-emphasize it. Something like this:

To my foreground layer I'll add my elliptical mask and feather the mask by 10 pixels.

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Related Keywords:adobe after effects, panning, mask, pan behind, keyframe mask, magnify effect, panning, expression

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