To start, I decided that it might be fun to try and animate the entire collage with one Null Object, so I could turn off all of the other layers and just work in one spot. One master controller, rigged to animate all of the different collage layers with the properties and effects that I might want.
One null to rule them all.
For anyone who has spent time rigging characters in AE, this is a pretty standard idea. It’s not uncommon to make a null, put a bunch of expression sliders and angle controls on there, and then connect the various properties of your layers to those controls and animate everything using that one rig.
But I had never approached non-character layouts with that kind of tool. Maybe everyone else always does this, I don’t know … but this was a first for me.
My approach here was particularly based on experiences I’ve had rigging faux 3D, parallax-style head turns with puppet characters. But because I wasn’t using the rig to animate something with clearly defined spatial boundaries, like a head or a body, it gave me a lot more flexibility to push the edges of the tool and make it work in unexpected ways.