12 Replies Latest reply: May 4, 2012 1:05 PM by DTwo22 RSS

    Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.

    DTwo22 Community Member

      I have a Christmas tree that has 13 lights (layers).   I can add a glow to them but would like to get them to randomly flash, without having  to change the opacity on and off on each individually.   Is there an effect that can do that?  I am a newbie at this so would prefer something simple if possible.  However, if there is nota simple solution to doing this, I am willing to install some code if given to me.  Will do just about anything to avoid dealing with opacity keyframes for 13 different layers.  I would like to find some kind of random on/off generator that can control a glow that will simulate a small light bulb flashing on and off.   Open to more than one kind approach.

       

      Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

       

      Duane

        • 1. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
          Todd_Kopriva Adobe Employee

          Suggestion: Manually keyframe one light, and then copy and paste the keyframes to other layers but offset in time (by just having the current-time indicator in a different place for each paste operation).

           

          Solving simple problems like this is much easier if you have a good grasp of the basics. I recommend starting here to learn After Effects: http://adobe.ly/bjBT3P

          • 2. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
            Mylenium CommunityMVP

            Well, same old question: How random is random? I'm assuming you at least want some bit of fading on and off? In that case, you can't avoid adding some keyframes - 5 to be exact going from off to on, then hold for a while going from on to off a gain and another last keyframe to hold the off state. then you could use a simple loopOut("cycle") expression on the opacity and they will repeat. Using this same setup on multiple layers and staggering them in time will then allow you to control the timing. If you need anything otehr than that, you need to explain.

             

            Mylenium

            • 3. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
              DTwo22 Community Member

              Todd, thanks for that reference.   Just what I was looking for.  I do have Adobe "Classroom In A Book."  It has been a great help in getting me started.   Looking forward to checking our some of the videos.   Since my post I found a preset in the Behavior's section named "Opacity Flash - Random."  I tried it on one bulb(layer) and it seemed to have potential.   I duplicated that layer and placed the new bulb(layer) on another spot on the Christmas tree.  This was great, however both bulbs came on at the same time.   So I tinkered with Chance of Flash and Flash Nervousness and was able to get the bulbs to flash at different times.   I could not find anything about what the settings are about in the Help section.   Do you know of a book or place I can go on the Adobe website to learn what these setting do?   Especially the bottom section of this preset, the part about solid(composite) opacity.  It would be a big help to know how this preset works.   Adobe has lots of good information about effects in the help section, but I only could find listings of the presets.

               

              Thanks,

               

              Duane

              • 4. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                DTwo22 Community Member

                Mylenium, thanks for your reply.  If you will read my reply to Todd, you will see that I think I have found a quick fix to this problem.    Your solution is exactly something I want to learn how to do.  After I finish this project I am going to come back to this issue and try your method.  Using the preset is a quick and simple solution for me know as I don't know much about expressions.   I do want to learn more about them and this will be my eventual goal.   Do you know of any resources as in books or videos that I could reference to learn about expressions?   The Help gives a good list of all the Expression and their arguments.   Looking for more help/examples on using them. 

                Thanks,

                 

                Duane

                • 5. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                  bogiesan Community Member

                  In the olden days, I might do this with a matte. If the lights are all transparent objects on a single layer, they can act as windows onto a layer of noise, clouds or shapes. Moving the underlying or animating its generation parameters creates lights that come on and off in random seqwuence, for random amounts of itme and random levels. You then apply various colors and glows to the precomposition.

                  • 6. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                    Mylenium CommunityMVP

                    Do you know of any resources as in books or videos that I could reference to learn about expressions?

                     

                    The big 20 volume edition I have been planning to write for the last 5 years....?! Until I get round to it, the best you can learn is from the grand seigneur of expressions, Dan Ebberts, himself: http://www.motionscript.com/. I'm sure Todd will also have some pointers handy. And this being JavaScript, of course tutorials on Flash's ActionScript or even web-based JavaScript are relevant on some level.

                     

                    Mylenium

                    • 7. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                      Todd_Kopriva Adobe Employee

                      There are several good resources for expressions at the top of this page.

                      • 8. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                        DTwo22 Community Member

                        Thanks Bogiesan.  I remember the olden days, but I was not into this kind of video then.   I go back to the days of having my own darkroom and developing my own color pictures.  For this project, I had a clip of a Christmas tree with lights and a star on the top.   I isolated the the lights and pasted then to another artboard in AI.   I then created an artboard for each color light (4).   After importing each color into AE. I added my preset effect.   I then moved each color to their final location.   The rest was about duplicating each color the amount of times needed and moving the lights into place on the tree.   I then went and adjusted the effect so that they were on more or less often.   It looks great.   Expressions might have been easier for me to do, only if I knew how to do them.   I am going to learn more about expressions after I finish this project.

                        I am working on the menu now while I am waiting for more clips and pictures to be added to the timeline.   I am now doing the main menu in AE.  I have one more main submenu to do and from those two menus, and between those two menus they will be calling the time line or about 5 other menus that will be calling the timeline.  So far, there will be over 25 chapter points.   I want to get this project finished b4 I start to play with expressions.   To much to do and not enough time to do it in.  LOL

                         

                        Duane

                        • 9. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                          bogiesan Community Member

                          DTwo22 wrote:

                          Thanks Bogiesan.  I remember the olden days, but I was not into this kind of video then.   I go back to the days of having my own darkroom and developing my own color pictures. 

                          Duane

                           

                          I'll bet you were using film. Shoot, I used glass plates and fulminated mercury.

                           

                          After Effects is a blast. There are so many different ways to do anything. Try to enjoy it. 

                          • 10. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                            DTwo22 Community Member

                            Thanks Mylenium.  I checked out that site by Dan Ebberts.   Very nice.   I guess that will have to do until you finish your 20 volume edition.  LOL   I won't hole my breath.  But when it does come out, I will buy the first edition.     I do have some old JavaScript books here.  I will use them for a resource.  That, along with the other resources that you and Todd suggested, should get me going in the right direction.   I will get into all of this when I finish this project.  Sooner than later, I hope. 

                             

                            Duane

                            • 11. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                              DTwo22 Community Member

                              Todd, thanks for your reply.  I do plan on buying the book that Chris and Trish authored.  I am going to order it soon.   Plus, I will check into all the other references you listed.   Right now I just wanting to finish this project first.  Then I can play with all the extra stuff.     Thanks for your help.

                               

                              Duane

                              • 12. Re: Need suggestions as to get 13 lights on an XMAS tree to randomly flash.
                                DTwo22 Community Member

                                Gosh, that must be b4 my time.  I started in the film era.   I do enjoy AE.  Can not wait to learn more about expressions and 3D.   Just so much one can do when trying to learn how to use PS, AE, Encore, AI, Audition, PP all at the same time.   A bit of an software overload at times.   I did have PE years ago so that gave me a heads up on PP and Encore.  I am making headway.  This is my third project.  Each one is getting more complex as I see things that I would like to do.   And now, just as I getting the hang of some of this, CS6 is coming out.  I think I will delve into that one next year.