4 Replies Latest reply on Nov 8, 2014 7:50 AM by ckjhalley

    Creating shapes which animate in sync with audio

    ckjhalley Level 1

      I have no experience with After Effects.

      I wish to import an audio file of music and create shapes and animate them in time with the music.

      For example have a kick drum repeating and with it, a circle which moves in time with the kick drum.


      If this is possible and if someone could explain how it works then After Effects will be what I need to get.


      I have in my mind that I could create a shape , and line it up some how in time with the sound.


      I hope some one can help me.


      Thank you.

        • 1. Re: Creating shapes which animate in sync with audio
          HarryHoag Level 1

          Hi, I won't give you a complete step by step, but I'll give you a rough outline of how to go about this as a starting point. It'll be best if you did some tutorials + read help docs to get to grips with after effects to figure out the rest. This will be a little bit of a steep learning curve with no After Effects experience. This is a way to do animate it automatically. The simpler but time consuming way would be to time it out manually and animate it by hand.


          Import your audio file as an uncompressed wav or aif. Drop it into your after effects composition. Right click on your audio layer and select Keyframe Assistant > Convert Audio to Keyframes. This will create a new null layer with custom effects sliders that contain the audio level values as keyframed values, you can see these if you roll out the null layer's effects panel.


          You will then need to do some simple expressions to get these keyframed values to link to whatever you want to move in time with the music. For example if you wanted to link a circle's Y position to the keyframed values, you'd hold alt and click on the animation stopwatch for the circle's position. This will open the expression editor for the circle's position property. Then you'll need to enter something like this:


          audio = thisComp.layer("Audio Amplitude").effect("Both Channels")("Slider");


          circle = transform.position;


          [circle[0], circle[1]+(audio*10)]


          The (audio*10) bit multiplies the keyframed audio values, so changing this will increase or decrease the amount your circle will move. There is plenty of expression help out there, so have a read and you should be fine.


          Good luck!


          PS if you go for the hand animated technique a good way of timing out the animation is to render a RAM preview and tap the * key on your keyboard numpad (or ctrl+8 if you have a small keyboard) in time with the music. That will create markers that you can use as a guide.

          • 2. Re: Creating shapes which animate in sync with audio
            ckjhalley Level 1

            Thank you. That is great info for me to have an idea of where to start off from.



            • 3. Re: Creating shapes which animate in sync with audio
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Start here: Basic Workflow


              It's nearly impossible to just open AE and start creating complex animations. You have to have a knowledge of how the interface works, transformation keyframes, layering (some of which can come from experience with Photoshop or Illustrator) and become familiar with effects. There is a built in feature in AE that will convert audio to keyframes but if you want to separate frequencies then you must purchase a 3rd party software called Trapcode Sound Keys. This will give you a better chance of isolating the frequencies of your Base drum and use that information, by way of a simple expression (this requires a basic knowledge of writing code) animate the scale of a layer. If you have a bunch of instruments that you want to isolate then you had better get a multi track version of your music with each instrument on a different track. Depending on the music you may be able to do some extraction using Adobe Audition, but it's not going to work with all music.


              So the answer to your question is yes you can. The caveat is that it will probably take you several days of learning After Effects to learn how to do what you want to do. If It were my project and I've been doing using AE for more than 20 years, and I had access to a multi track recording of the music with each instrument on a separate track, and the piece was 3 minutes long I would probably want two or three days to create the artwork, do motion and color tests, finalize the design, and pull off something truly amazing, or weeks or months to pull of something extraordinary, or a couple of hours to pull of something like this.

              • 4. Re: Creating shapes which animate in sync with audio
                ckjhalley Level 1

                Thank you for your reply. Yes, having each sound on it's own track is what I would do. Each stem of the music will be designed with a visual in mind.


                yes, I am happy to work for a long time getting it to work, even if it takes years but I love spending a long time with software like I have with my music software.


                Thanks so much for the "truly amazing" link I love the bit when the piano links with the color coming back. Looks amazing. I have Synethesia and its time for me to start the visual side of things to go along side production.


                Will start with that tutorial. Thank you