A null is really a solid, a 100x100px white one, with opacity set to 0% and anchor point set to [0,0]
You'll see this if you add a null on your time line, and then go to the solid directy on your project panel, select the null and drag and drop it on your timeline. You'll see that it's just a 100x100px white solid.
To "turn it back" to a solid, just set it's opacity to something else than 0% and change back it's anchor point to [50,50]
Exactly what I thought. But try it, it's not working. It works if I drag it from the "Solids" folder to the timeline. One thing I noticed is that if you add a null through "Layer/New/Null Object", the null always have a square around it while normal solids don't.
Gimme few hours, i'll see if I can manage something for you
Hey Simon, I've had a look at your issue.
There is indeed a property available for scripting to know if a layer is a null or not, but that property is read only. So your dilemna is the same as teletransportation: destroyed on one side to be rebuild on the other.
So, the script have to create a new solid layer, copy all properties from your null, and inherit all it's children, then the null layer will be removed. I can't do this as fast as it seems, so if other scripters here have a piece of code to share to help build you one quickly, everyone is welcomed.
Here is what I've done so far: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2154472/unNullMe.zip
It just dumbly replace a null by a solid, without any other properties (except for in/out Points, stretch, parent, name and startTime).
i'll continue working on this, hopefully with the help of the community your problem will be solved faster than if I did it all alone
FWIW, there are a few deep differences between a null object layer and a solid-color layer.
One difference is that it doesn't pay any attention to the value of its Opacity property. No matter what, the layer won't render. Another (related) difference is that because they don't render, they don't break 3D intersections in the way that other 2D layers do if they intervene between 3D layers in the layer stacking order. There are some other differences, too. The point is that they are a different beast than a solid.
Are there user groups or classes at the Fremont campus in Seattle for Premier Pro and After Effects? Similar to the Adobe Acrobat PDF and In Design Groups? The software is so deep that I'd really like affiliation learning.
Search for AFER EFFECTS TRAINING and you will find many dozens of possible school sessions. You really want to find out if the colleges in your area offer a semester-long AE course. Not many do but that's the kind of time you need. A week or so, even if it's intensely packed 8-hour days, can only get you started on learning the basics. You won't get a feel for applying the fundamentals to real word projects unless you have several weeks of work.
Or you could invest in "After Effects Apprentice" by Trish and Chris Meyer, and devote a few weeks of concentrated effort. Best to do that at a school lab, too, away form distractions.
bogiesan's advice is good. We don't have any classes here at the Adobe office... though we do sometimes host the After Effects Seattle user group here.
I think that the best intensive training that you can get is the six-day Post|Production World conference. Chris & Trish Meyer, RIchard Harrington, and I all teach there. It overlaps with the NAB tradeshow in Las Vegas in April.
Thank you for your suggestions,
One of the most difficult things to understand about a null is that once they end up in the project panel they turn into a solid and stop behaving as a null if they are placed in the timeline of any comp. The only way to create a null is with the timeline or the composition window active. You can copy a null from one composition and paste it in another.
I've always thought that placing a null in the project panel in a solids folder and labeling the null as a solid was not right. Maybe they shouldn't go there at all. Maybe they should have a null designation in the project window so that they could be placed directly in any timeline from the project window. You also will break the null's functionality as a non rendering, non influencing element of the composition if you replace the null by holding down the Alt/Option key and dragging a null or a solid from the Project panel to a selected null in the Timeline (standard replace footage operation).
I hope you enjoy your trip into AE land. It's a great place to visit.