19 Replies Latest reply on Feb 18, 2016 12:52 AM by dissidently

    copying from shapes to masks

    dissidently Level 2

      SPECIFICALLY: Fourth Line of this page, 3rd point, above:


      "Convert a shape path to a mask path by copying the shape’s path to the Mask Path property."


      THIS most useful of things DOES NOT WORK!!


      How do you get around this?


      How did this make it into the current documentation? 


      Is there some obscure trick to this?


      I'm creating a shape layer. Then creating a Hexagon Shape within that layer with the Polygon Tool.  I then create a Mask in that same layer.  I then copy the Shape Path and attempt to past it into the Mask Path, as per the above line.  You can see what I'm doing in this screen shot:




      It does NOT create a mask, 


      Instead a new group is created, Group 1, with a duplicate of this shape in it.  So no further forward.


      Anyone know the way to do this?

        • 1. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
          Todd_Kopriva Level 8

          The important part that you missed is this:


          "When you create a shape by dragging with a shape tool in the Composition panel, you create a parametric shape path. To instead create a Bezier shape path, press the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key before you click to begin dragging. You can release the key before you complete the drag operation. All mask paths are Bezier paths. (See About shapes and shape layers.)"


          In other words, shapes can be of two kinds, one of which has a Path property that you can copy and paste into a mask's path property. You can't copy and paste from a parametric shape path to a mask path; only froma  Bezier shape path.


          So, if you want to copy and paste from a shape layer to a mask, then hold the Option key ask you draw the shape layer with one of the shape tools.

          • 2. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
            dissidently Level 2

            The important part that you missed is being helpful.


            So you know this about AE but you can't discern what's blatantly obvious - that the documentation is misleading, long winded, disconnected, obtuse, vague and poorly structured?


            I could do the same.


            Except I'm not. I'm learning from this experience. So here's some thoughts you can probably fit in your waste paper bucket.


            The most important thing I've learnt:


            Adobe has instutionalised not listening to users of its software, it only pretends at it, and postures at it.  See the thread on CUDA on MBPr's for all the proof one might ever need.


            But there's a lick of it in this attitude here that confirms the hardware support commentary is not a fluke, you've quoted something as obscurely placed and poorly written as could be possible for this issue with vertices.


            Seeing as the piece you've referenced is a good ways down the page and seemingly unrelated to the thing that I'm trying to do, that had rather explicit instructions without any pre-conditions* or footnotes** we can assume you're either being deliberately obtuse when creating documentation like this (for marketing reasons, one might suggest) or you're simply unaware of how your documentation reads to someone trying to actually use your software.


            In the vain hope that you're just unaware, here's some stream of consciousness on how an outsider to your world might perceive your documentation as a little "missing", and how one might view the Adobe brand after such an experience, and what one might take away as a result of it all being a bit ...odd.


            1. Adobe has crassly "gamified" its discussion areas below these things they call "documentation". What people get out of a ranking is not explained. One might assume they're seeking employment with the company because they're clearly not demonstrating skills that might be employable in the manner something like StackOverflow does.


            2. Once a thread is touched by an Adobe employee its moved from the discussion under the relevant documentation to this forum... where it will likely die a loney death and serve no further purpose... other than hiding any disquiet or concern about the documentation away from newer eyes.  I had wondered why there weren't any other comments under said documentation... now I know.  It might be nice, if you're going to do this sort of shuffling around, to link to the original documentation so anyone that does happen to find this in the dark warren that is this forum may find the relevant piece this directly references.


            3. Adobe staff have worse communication skills than those seeking the pointless (pun intended) gamification points up for grabs for responding to questions.  Both will defend the documentation regardless of its foibles.


            3. There's no methodology, paradigm, conceptual or other viewpoint of the softwares functionality offered so someone might ascertain the thinking behind how things are done and thought about in the world of After Effects


            4. When you give a specific use case scenario you're wasting your time, nobody reads it or bothers directly responding to it.  They're only concerned in pointing out what they know about the documentation, regardless of its applicability (or not) to the thing being attempted by the frustrated user.


            So, for the future... let's take a better look at this documentation that's apparently so sacred it can't be critiqued, starting with lines you quote:


            "When you create a shape by dragging with a shape tool in the Composition panel, you create a parametric shape path. To instead create a Bezier shape path, press the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key before you click to begin dragging. You can release the key before you complete the drag operation. All mask paths are Bezier paths. (See About shapes and shape layers.)"


            The important point here is that a "parametric shape path" is not labeled as such ANYWHERE in the software, nor does this sentence or paragraph make any effort to explain what's different between a "parametric shape path" and a "bezier path" beyond their names.  Yet clearly they have different methodologies and are conceptually different, within After Effects.

            The biggest single difference is that one has editable vertices, and one does not... until its converted to a "path".  This repeat use of the word "path" is more than a little confusing here, but it's a whole lot more confusing in the software where "parametric" is never thrown into the use to clarify the difference between the two different types even by name.


            The simplest solution to the problem with the documentation here is to recognise that there is a problem... and that the problem is Adobe's inability to say what CANNOT be done, and to clearly demonstrate what CAN be done.


            It is possible to convert a PARAMETRIC  path to a BEZIER path - if you're willing to leave it up to a bit/pixel based auto-trace to determine what the path should be.


            What CANNOT be done is a much longer list, and should be made available so that users can easily determine the difference between the two kinds of paths.  Starting with:

            1. You cannot edit the vertices of a parametric path.  We have deliberately not provided this feature.  We could, but we decided we wouldn't. So despite there being specific information about the vertices of parametric paths of AE, we don't acknowledge that as being true, or accessible.  You might be accustomed to releasing shapes and text to editable curves in our other software (ever other software of our own) however we do not follow that paradigm in AE.  Here we are entirely different in our handling of shapes, largely becasue we're afraid of the fun you'd have editing specific vertices with unique identifiers and coordinates. 


            2. PARAMETRIC shape paths are not labelled as such, you can't SEE in the timeline that a path is Parametric, you must now it... these are the parametric paths: Circle, Polygon, Rectangle etc... Yes, yes, we know you'd expect the ability to know and be reminded of the the limitations of these shapes, but we're not about to do that... nor are we going to provide a mechanism for you to easily swap your drawn shapes into Masks or Bezier paths.   We've been learning from Apple just this one thing - if you can take an obvious feature away from your users, that's a fun thing to do to them... (side note, google's getting very good at this lately, it's a trend. Yippee. D'OH!)


            3.  Parametric shapes cannot be created with editable vertices with any kind of accuracy, you'll have to drag them out with an obscure shortcut key in order to be creating an editable bezier path with the shape qualities of the parametric shape tools.  This is not an oversite on our part, we really do wish you'd buy Illustrator as well to do anything moderately simple enough to be a feature of a motion graphics drawing seet... but we're smarter than that, we sell suites. Would you like fries with that?


            4. Copying shapes into After Effects from Illustrator is not fun, nor positionally accurate either.  So don't be expecting miracles from that either.  Ever since Autodesk gave up on Combustion we've had some fun times over here, BBQ's and pool parties, mostly.  The odd day at the office.


            5. You can't treat vertices as child objects in either parametric or bezier shape paths, so expect to be doing a LOT of fine tuning by hand if you're after anything near pixel perfection in your animations of geometric shapes.  It's really not what AE is for... this is a composite program first and foremost.  You motion graphics and media animation people should more seriously consider upgrading to our high end animation package... oh... wait... I'm being told AE is it.  Well, much like Illustrator, if it can't be done in AE then it's not worth doing and you'll never need to do it, so settle for lowered expectations and bag of Big Gulp of soda.  You'll be fine, just remember to chew.


            I don't know what's more disappointing - that AE isn't half of what I expected the dominant Mograph software to be in 2012/3, or the manner and attitude of the staff in these "forums".

            • 3. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
              dissidently Level 2

              In reply to your email that I can't reply to:


              I get the distinct impression that Adobe's doing what RiM, Nokia and many others have done over the last few years... Not tried competitors and more upmarket products in their categories, nor even used their own devices for the full range of intended possible use cases.


              There shouldn't need to be a Feature Request facility, and it surely shouldn't be encouraging users to take responsiblity for what's added via the likes of a phoney democrracy spreading blame across those that didn't ask for what so obviously is missing from your software.


              YOU of all people, should know what should be in the software, and be spending time perfecting it.  Be the Johnny Ives (for lack of a better example) of AE and take responsibility for the features and direction of the juggernaught.  Make it brilliant.  Not just what you can get away with.

              • 4. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
                Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                I am trying to help as much as I can. I've been teaching AE For more than 10 years and I have never had this come up. I've never had a request to do what you're asking AE to do. That does not mean it's not a valid request, it's just not one I have heard before.


                I tried selecting specific overlapping vertices in 3-D studio Max. It does not work. I tried selecting them in Cinema 4D, that did not work either. I tried selecting overlapping vertices as you suggest Illustrator. That didn't work either. Had to move one and then move the other one. There was no way to choose which one you would select before clicking.


                I am sorry you are so frustrated.


                I would suggest you submit a feature request. The documentation is not perfect. It's pretty good for a extremely complex application.


                There is documentation explaining how shape layers work. I am sorry it did not meet your expectations.

                • 5. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
                  Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  I just read your post and all I can say is I'm sorry the product doesn't meet your expectations. You could always ask for a refund.

                  • 6. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
                    dissidently Level 2

                    unravel the curve editor in 3ds max and you'll find each and every vertex has its own special little timeline.


                    And you can snap ANYTHING to ANY vertex in all the programs you've trust tried, as well as many other animation and vector illustration programs. 


                    AE is the only one that I'm aware of that doesn't have a "snap to vertex" or "node" as its called in Illustrator.


                    Once you have that "snap" you can (if it's not possible to pick specific vertices) move one around and then move it back with complex confidence because you've got that snapping.


                    Another feature that might blow your mind, if you haven't seen specific vertex editing on a timeline, is that you can parent things to vertices in most animation programs.  Even to its normal (something soon to become an issue in AE as it gets more 3D-ified)


                    But wait, I know you want more.  You can save selection sets of individual vertices, and name those selection sets in a way that you can remember them, and then filter those lists.  And those selections sets can be as few as just ONE vertex, which can be incredibly useful.

                    • 7. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
                      dissidently Level 2

                      Wow. I've just discovered that AE doesn't even have primitive selection sets.  So I'm going to need to explain them to you.


                      Anything that can be selected can be stored as a selection set with a specific name for easy re-selection.  Unlike a group, that can't have objects being members of two separate groups, a selection set can have objects being members of many disparate selection sets.  So you could have Chairs all in one selection set, Tables in another and bookshelves in another.  Then another set might be "Furniture on West Wall" and that's made up of some chairs, tables and bookshelves all on the west wall. 


                      But selection sets work down all the way to the miniature of the software.... to vertices and beyond, into the ether between.


                      I think I should stop talking about the life and times of thinking in well designed modern software, you might get bursts of envy and decide that rather than having pseudo 3D as in AE you'd rather have 2D within a fully 3D environment like 3ds Max.

                      • 8. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
                        dissidently Level 2

                        And no, the documentation is not "pretty good" even if you consider the subject matter to be a "complex application".  It's (the communication of the features and fundamentals) made needlessly complex via what appears to be systemic obfuscation of the "features" inherent limitations.


                        Simply admitting what things can and can't do would be a very good start towards simpler, clearer, more empowering documentation.


                        Going a step further, embracing the metaphors and fundamentals of the software (warts and all) would allow for rapid dissemination of knowledge and understanding of the software's methodologies and paradigms of its tools, functionality and operability.  But then there wouldn't be a burgeoning industry for tutorial videos and books on the software, or as many people required to maintain the "community communication".


                        Chomsky might be inclined to surmise there's a vested interest in those defending the documentation in maintaining the status quo - if he were to look in on this world.

                        • 9. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
                          Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          So angry....

                          I guess you're smarter than I am.

                          I'm done.

                          • 10. Re: After Effects Help | Creating shapes and masks
                            Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                            The After Effects CC (12.2) update makes creating Bezier paths easier and more obvious.


                            option for creating shape layers based on Bezier paths:


                            When a shape tool (Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Polygon, Star, or Ellipse tool) is active, you can use the new Bezier Path option in the Tools panel to create a new shape based on a Bezier path, as opposed to the default of creating a new shape based on a parametric path. Holding the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) key while drawing a shape causes the opposite behavior—i.e., if the Bezier Path option is enabled, holding the Alt or Option key causes the shape tool to create a parametric path; if the Bezier Path option is disabled, holding the Alt or Option key causes the shape tool to create a Bezier path.


                            command for converting a parametric shape layer path to a Bezier path:


                            You can convert a parametric path to a Bezier path after the parametric path has already been created by context-clicking (right-clicking or Control-clicking on Mac OS) the property group for the parametric path (e.g., Rectangle Path 1) and choosing the Convert To Bezier Path command from the context menu. If the parametric path is animated (keyframed), the converted Bezier path is a static path based on the parametric path at the current time; keyframes are lost.


                            IMPORTANT: When you use the Convert To Bezier Path command to convert a parametric shape path to a Bezier shape path, the Bezier path that is created does not animate well (i.e., interpolation between paths behaves strangely and unpredictably). This is related to path direction and how transformations are stored. For now, you should not use these converted paths for animated paths (interpolation between paths); but, if you do want to try, you may be able to work around the issues by reversing the path before conversion.

                            • 11. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                              marks59391491 Level 1

                              I'm trying to do this very same thing, and even if I turn my rectangle from a parametric path to a bezier path I can't then copy and paste that into another layer as a mask path.

                              • 12. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                marks59391491 Level 1

                                For anyone else who is stuck with this and stumbles across this thread, the solution, thanks to Rick Gerard, is to create a keyframe on the mask path you want to copy, copy that keyframe, make a new shape layer, create a new mask inside that shape layer by selecting the pen tool, switching it to mask mode and clicking to add a single vertex, then you can paste your keyframe into that mask layer.



                                Hardly intuitive but it works at least.

                                • 13. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                  dissidently Level 2

                                  "Hardly intuitive" is masterful understatement. You must be British


                                  Rick Gerard is a stalwart of AE - what he knows is amazing. His brain his hardwired to work around the foibles, limitations and feebleness of AE's workflows and user paradigms. And he accepts it, warts and all, like a doting parent. Incredible human.


                                  I, on the other hand, have nothing but disdain for the atrophy of Adobe's products and their failure to hire designers to design their software. Adobe is making more money than at any time in its history. And worse products, too.

                                  • 14. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                    marks59391491 Level 1

                                    Ha yes I am indeed!


                                    I find the Adobe forums very similar to the Apple forums as far as the 'you're doing it wrong' type responses to trying to do things in a logical manner go, even when the same logic works perfectly fine in other Adobe products, or even in the a different part of the same product (see this thread right here:  How to select from one layer to another in the layers palette? Like shift click as in Photoshop (and pretty much everything else...) ), and also in this weird kind of 'Hey look, it's fine the way it works, stop moaning' type attitude which is counter productive. If people were more critical of the software, they might find that annoying bugs/ behaviour would be fixed, and their tools improved.


                                    Take the Illustrator history window debate for example - Re: Illustrator History Panel...  There really is no argument for there not to be a history window in Illustrator, ('Oh it would just be full of 'Add point' steps!' Yes, just like it is when you use the pen tool in Photoshop...), and those that don't think it would be useful would be be free to just not use it...


                                    Or the fact that 'Step Backwards' and 'Undo' work slightly differently and one of them will put you onto the layer you were on previously (which serves no purpose, and should realistically be classed as a bug) adobe photoshop - "Step backward" also changes currently selected layer - Graphic Design Stack Exchange


                                    Or why the way you zoom/scroll the timeline in After Effects is different from the way it works in Premiere? Surely Adobe could just decide which is best? (Answer, there's really not much in it, but Ableton's 'Click +drag up and down on the timeline to zoom' should be implemented by everyone as standard...)


                                    And yet you've got people defending this behaviour, as if speaking out against it would seem ungrateful...




                                    And this is coming from someone who uses Blender for God's sake, so believe me I know about inconsistent and weird UI! The difference is that because people are vocal about missing or unintuitive (Right click to select notwithstanding...)  features they get added/revised a few releases down the line.



                                    In this case, I really don't see why you can't add a mask from the 'Add' button inside a layer and then just ctrl+v to paste whatever path you've copied previously into it. And if the path is a rectangle or whatever, a nice little popup asking you if you want to convert it to a bezier. Or just convert it to a bezier without asking, because it's pretty obvious that's what you're trying to do..

                                    • 15. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                      dissidently Level 2

                                      "And this is coming from someone who uses Blender for God's sake, so believe me I know about inconsistent and weird UI!"


                                      I was chortling with laughter and shared comprehension from the moment I read "uses Blender" to the end of this sentence, and beyond.


                                      Thank you!


                                      Wit, well articulated and informed criticisms and continued understatement, whilst carefully defining the people you're lambasting in such a way as to... well, I don't want to ruin the moment.


                                      The best of British, to you!


                                      And, in that same sentence on Blender, lays the core of problem. You've experience with 3D creative software, and music software (from your Ableton reference). You know software, and have a desire to be creative in multiple fields of creative endeavour - so much so that you've overcome many of the limitations of software to express that which you desire to share.


                                      The problem, if you're wondering, is that you're empathetic, and therefore capable of good design.


                                      Adobe doesn't hire people with that collection of traits, and with your general design experience, and certainly not with (what I'm assuming) is your general design ability, interest, passions and talent. They don't care to, and don't need to in order to keep churning out massive profits. And it's highly unlikely anyone with your blend of sensibilities and abilities would accept the terms and offers they make.


                                      Long ago Adobe realised monopolisation in creative software was possible. They copied the Microsoft Office model of behaviour and applied it to creative software. Having achieved a monopoly (without significant innovation or consideration of the user) there was no way they were going to start improving their product and spend more on production. That's entirely NOT the point of achieving a monopoly.


                                      They doubled down. Bought out their major rival and then blessed us with "software as a service" on a scale never before seen. The only product from their acquisition they should have killed (Flash) they keep going, whilst killing off the best things they could maintain and learn from (Freehand wasn't a shining light, but in contrast to the market, Fireworks was a generational leap in illustrative software).


                                      // There's a special place reserved somewhere rather warm for anyone responsible for Dreamweaver's current state in the age of JavaScript and HTML5.


                                      You're right, on all your other points, particularly about the status quo huggers and Adobe apologists. I don't know what's wrong with them. They exist in all fields of creativity involving Adobe software. Perhaps they're paid representatives. Hard to imagine people actually feeling and acting that way.


                                      Apple's forums (particularly the developer forums) and anything to do with Samsung and Android have the same demonstration of consideration only of those that have "done it right".


                                      Those that speak of their expectations of intuitive operation from an understanding of instinctive design are demonised. I think we can guess why. Commercial interests control modern online  commentary. And there's the second problem. I'm going to guess you're old enough to remember the earlier internet's forums and places of genuine sharing, caring and consideration, conversation and criticism.


                                      Some (real people, not paid pundits posing as posters) actually seem to fear and avoid anything "negative", completely neglecting the fact criticism is an art in and of itself.


                                      I, like you, have used many types of software over many generations of computing interface and paradigm ideas. Blender, I agree, is atrocious. There's some magical moments within it, but (for me) it's not worth suffering the rest of the disjointed hodgepodge of ideas and approaches to get at those gems.  I remain firmly addicted to 3ds Max and pine for a time when it shines like it once did. And an ability to complete rhymes.


                                      Paths, in AE, are a neglected thing because the vertex hasn't been treated with the respect it deserves. Until the vertex is given its day, duly respected, revered and given its place in the timeline and fundamentals of AE's approach to space and time, the path is always going to be an incomplete contrivance because it's a contraption built without consideration of its essentials. As for masking.


                                      If you're ever near Hong Kong, it's my shout for beers!

                                      • 16. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                        marks59391491 Level 1

                                        Hah this has made my day!


                                        I'm a massive fan of Blender it has to be said - I love the hotkey centric ('Scale this object 5x along Y? Sure!" *Presses S, then Y, then 5* etc) workflow, among other things, but I'm well aware that it is a very weird program in many basic ways - the right click to select thing, which I think it is pretty much the only program to use that, is often the subject of debate. Oh and often in a dialog box, the useable range of values might be something like 0.0000000001 to 0.0000000002 etc.


                                        Buuut... for my level of skill in 3D, I don't find I'm limited by it. And it's free - Get a free packet of peanuts on a flight? Delighted! Pay for an in flight meal on a flight and get a packet of peanuts? - Livid.


                                        Max I got on well with when I did a stint on that - coming from blender to Max was a pretty smooth transition.


                                        Maya though... Nah... having to make a separate camera to 'look through' whilst working on a scene, and not being able to just kind of rotate out of top view etc witho0ut selecting your 'looking through' camera. Seemed pretty rubbish to me. Oh and then hitting render and coming back to a closeup of some weird corner of your model because although you selected your main camera in the render settings, that actually doesn't do anything and you need to select it in the render output window...



                                        Basically, Adobe and Apple seem to be like the attractive but horrible partner, that treat you like crap because you know you don't think you can do any better...




                                        Anyway, thanks for the venting session, maybe there's a business opportunity in this somewhere!

                                        • 17. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                          dissidently Level 2

                                          Maya and Unreal Engine seem to share a similar point of view (pun intended) on navigation. Both suck. Watching someone that's always used Maya, as they navigate around and through their models as rapidly as they can, I can't help but grimace in pained sympathy. It's like watching someone scroll through a Samsung phone's contact list (if you're an iPhone user). They have adapted to the problems by accepting it rather than imagining how it could and should be better.


                                          And that's pretty much how I think anyone that's used Adobe software (and enjoys it) must see the world. Somehow they must find some kind of joy in the immense array of peculiarities of operation, obscurities, weirdness and clunkiness. That's putting aside and ignoring the myriad of bugs and general unresponsiveness that's creeping into Adobe software. On that, I'm reasonably sure Android only phone users don't notice the stutters and slowdowns, so maybe those that only use Adobe apps don't sense how all the UI's lag.


                                          On the importance of navigation, the oddest thing, in 3ds Max there's a setting to replicate how Maya behaves but, inversely, there's not a setting in Maya to make it behave as 3ds Max does. Probably in a future update. I'd love, when on a Mac, to be able to open up Maya and navigate with the speed and confidence I do in 3ds Max (which doesn't run on a Mac) and quickly model up something to demonstrate something without booting a PC. It'll come, I'm sure. Autodesk is a weird one. Despite enormous market power, they're still progressing, somewhat, and seem to make genuine efforts to (some of the time) assist their users gain more power, speed and proficiency.


                                          Which brings me to your point about After Effects & Premiere (and I'll add Illustrator & Photoshop) behaving differently for the most rudimentary and commonplace of tasks. How is that even a thing?

                                          • 18. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                            Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            dissidently wrote:


                                            Paths, in AE, are a neglected thing because the vertex hasn't been treated with the respect it deserves. Until the vertex is given its day, duly respected, revered and given its place in the timeline and fundamentals of AE's approach to space and time, the path is always going to be an incomplete contrivance because it's a contraption built without consideration of its essentials.

                                            Agree! I've been filing feature requests on this one for a while. The fact that you can't access mask vertices with expressions is silly. I want to tie a mask point to a null - can't. I want to tie a null to a mask point - can't. ARG! You'd think at least one of those things would be possible. (Granted, you can do some of this with third party scripts, but still...)

                                            • 19. Re: copying from shapes to masks
                                              dissidently Level 2

                                              Making vertices first class citizens of AE's world would make AE into a legitimately wonderful motion graphics experience. It would bring AE in line with how 3D apps worked with vertices in the 1990's.