What is the difference between Rotation and Orientation in After Effects?

When you want to rotate a 3D layer in an After Effects composition, type W to switch to the Rotation tool (V will switch you back to the Black Arrow selection tool when you’re done), and then choose Rotation or Orientation from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the Tools panel.

  • Rotation is the best choice for animating.
  • Orientation is better for posing.

This is because when you keyframe Orientation, it always takes the shortest path between two angles. So if you start with a layer rotated 0 degrees and orient it clockwise to 350 degrees, in the final animation, it will rotate counter-clockwise from 0 to 350.

On the other hand, Rotation remembers which direction you rotated the layer and how many times around you went.