Unable to fix an effect onto a point - HitFilm 4 Express

One thing first - I only very recently started using HitFilm. This just means that I probably won't instantly recognize obscure jargon. The best way to help would be to explain things simply and step-by-step, as it is done in the video tutorials on this site.

But onto the problem:

I can do motion tracking just fine, but even after I've created a point and set it onto a motion path, I'm still unable to center any effects onto that point. For example, say I wanted to set a moving object on fire using the "Bonfire" effect (which is the only standard continuous fire effect in Express 4). But, as I have tried, there is simply no "Center" control. And in fact, I wasn't able to find any kind of centering or fix-to-a-layer control in even some very basic effects.

I know that the "Light Flares" effect does indeed have a Hotspot control, which can be used to fix the effect onto a specific layer. But why doesn't every effect have this option? Or why can't I assign the simple X and Y values of an effect onto a layer in this way? HitFilm seems very limited by this inability.

But, maybe I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing, or maybe I'm going about it wrong. That is why I put this onto the forum.

Any help would be appreciated, and please ask me for clarification if you need any. Thank you!


  • Normally to make another layer track a point you set the parent of the layer to a point. For example, your Bonfire layer. After you parent the Bonfire layer to the point it will retain its current position. To center onto the point simply zero out the X/Y/Z property on the Bonfire layer.

    Note that Bonfire is not an "effect". It creates a separate layer. Effects operate on existing layers. Effects like the light flares can be used on a layer but you do not want the whole layer to be parented to the point. You may only want a specific effect, in a whole list of effects, to track a point layer. Most if not all of those types of effects, e.g. Light flares, allow you to attach their action to another layer. Most commonly a point layer.

  • Every layer on the composite shot timeline has a parenting menu, to the right of the layer name. You will want to open that menu for the Bonfire layer, and select the Point that you want to attach the effect to. Once you do this, the bonfire layer will inherit the transform properties of the point. If you then zero out all of the transform properties of the bonfire, it will assume the exact position of its parent point. Or you can use the transform controls for the bonfire to offset it from the point's exact position, if you wish.

    Here is an older tutorial that explains the basics of parenting: https://youtu.be/HPLhf5nnw-c

  • Oh! Right. Parenting. I tried that before, but I forgot about the zeroing out of the coordinate values.

    Thanks so much!

  • Hi, I would like to apply the bulge effect to a motion point but the bulge effect does not have an option to parent with anything how do I parent the bulge effect to a point :o)

  • Bulge can attach to a point. The center, use layer, option.

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