Moving multiple After Effects layers without affecting keyframes

Recently, I needed to change the aspect ratio of an existing After Effects project from 4:3 to 16:9. I opened the composition settings and updated the height to the new smaller value (the width didn't need to change).

When reducing the height or width of a composition, After Effects will crop the composition from the outer edges towards the centre. Fortunately, the main character in my composition was positioned in the middle, so changing the composition height just removed some of the less key parts at the top and bottom of the artwork.

After I exported the new 16:9 video and uploaded it to the webpage I was working on, I realised that using a shorter video meant that the site header was now obscuring the face of the character in my artwork.

I needed to go back to After Effects and shift my artwork down. However, my composition also contained lots of layers with effects, so I needed an easy way to move them all without affecting their existing keyframes.

The null object solution

A quick Google of the problem led me to this solution on the Adobe forums. User Roei Tzoref suggested using a null object to move multiple layers quickly and easily:

  1. Add a null object (Layer > New > Null Object)
  2. Select the layer(s) you want to move to a new position and change their 'Parent & Link' dropdown to the new null object layer
  3. Select the null object layer and move it to the new position (the layers you selected in step 2 should move at the same time)
  4. Delete the null object layer (the layers that were Parent linked to the null object should default back to 'None' automatically)

The forum post also suggests two other approaches, so if the above doesn't work for you be sure to check it out for more ideas.

Move all comp objects w/o destroying keyframe positions?
I built an animation that relies on a good number of position keyframes. I want to take the entire animation and just move it up a bit on screen so it’s centered better. However, I’m not sure how to do this without manually adjusting each and every keyframe for the move. I’d like to be able to ne…

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