6 Replies Latest reply on Jun 29, 2016 10:36 AM by jarombra@gmail.com

    How can one animate an adjustment layer along a path?

    jarombra@gmail.com

      I have a path that was made precisely as I need it to be in Rhino, then exported to Illustrator, then converted to a shape (from vector) in After Effects; so that's all set. I also have an adjustment layer that needs to follow that path and keyframed along it accordingly -- this adjustment layer has a blur mask on it that is driven by another path (also designed just as I need it using Rhino/Illustrator). I imagine using the in-house so to speak AE mask-path pen tool workflow could facilitate the animation path, but as I mentioned I need to use the paths that I designed in Rhino/Illustrator. Just thinking out loud, perhaps I could initiate a mask path for the adjustment layer, then use expressions to drive that path's "shape" from the Rhino/Illustrator path I already have?

       

      EDIT: Come to think of it in more succinct terms, I simply need to learn how to animate paths that I imported from Rhino/Illustrator along other paths that I also imported and converted to paths in After Effects -- not just for adjustment layer masks (that are driven by imported path shapes to boot).

       

      Thanks forum for your help!

        • 1. Re: How can one animate an adjustment layer along a path?
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          You cannot mess around with expressions when using masks and paths. The only thing you can do is use direct pickwhip expressions so the shape data from whan path is imprinted on another path. Beyond that you can't do anything since expressions cannot access the internals of these paths. Otherwise your workflow simply sounds massively crooked. You need to study up on how to use pre-compositions to generate your shapes and animate the resulting layers on paths, including how thus being able to re-use the mattes multiple times for multiple effects, plus how copy&paste works with regards to pasting mask shapes at different keyframes and how this stuff is interpolated. It might also be a good idea to get away from your academic workflow involving three programs. I have a hard time imagining any such thing and I've been doing CAD stuff for years. It seems you are locked into a wrong thinking about "precision" when very likely it's not even necessary.

           

          Mylenium

          • 2. Re: How can one animate an adjustment layer along a path?
            jarombra@gmail.com Level 1

            Thanks Mylenium -- I'll take these best-practice principals into consideration; forgive me, as I learned compositing on Nuke and design with Rhino+Grasshopper, so I am heavily inculcated in node-based stuff rather than hierarchy or pre-comp situations. But given this particular scenario, what would you recommend specifically? Consider the following basic project (screenshot below):

             

            Let's say I need to animate the blue circle from it's center-point along the green path, keframed as desired. Just humor me here -- assume that the blue circle and green path have to be imported from Illustrator (originally made in Rhino) due to their requisite, in this case hypothetical complexity. Just imagine they are too complex to be drawn in AE, even if that sounds ridiculous. So how might I simply get that blue circle to animate along the green path?

             

            That's the first challenge, now assuming these workflows are connected, what I need to do next is use the blue circle perimeter to define a blur mask that again, animates as keyframed along the green path, blurring the checkered background below using any of the readymade blur effects.

             

            Thanks for your suggestion of how you might tackle this problem Mylenium!

            Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 6.10.46 PM.png

            • 3. Re: How can one animate an adjustment layer along a path?
              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

              Again, a simple matter of adjusting your thinking. Paths can be copy&pasted to position data and vice versa. That sufficiently takes care of aligning stuff, with the only caveat being that AE doesn't care for the actual duration of an animation and always sets the duration of such motion paths to two seconds. The rest is really taken care of by creating pre-comps. You would have one for the actual visible shape, another as a filled version to serve as a matte and adjustment layer. This sufficiently covers all options, since then you can employ all sorts of copy&paste with keyframes and path shapes alike, parent layers to one another, use pickwhip expressions to link basic properties and animate multiple transforms independently in your pre-comp(s). This can be structured infinitely like you would build a downstream node graph in Nuke with branched input graphs. It just needs to be handled a bit more careful, since you can't connect everything due to AE not using open data channels for several properties and creating compound data. also, if you do this regularly, you might consider in some third-party plug-ins like Masked Avenger over at AEScripts or some scripts that can help you with al lthat copy&paste mumbo-jumbo.

               

              Mylenium

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: How can one animate an adjustment layer along a path?
                jarombra@gmail.com Level 1

                I imagine you're alluding to workflows such as this one: After Effects Tutorial: Get an object to follow a mask path - YouTube

                 

                If this tutorial is in any way relevant to your advice, my problem is again: how do I use an imported shape outline as a mask path that another shape path can then be animated along? Referring to my scratch example again, how can "Path To Animate Along Outlines" become a mask path of "Mobile Object Outlines"? The copy-paste workflow doesn't work for my needs as shown in this tutorial because the Position data of "Mobile Object Outlines" in my example project won't receive the Path data of "Path To Animate Along Outlines". I've tried creating a mask first on "Mobile Object Outlines" and then defining that mask path from the "Path To Animate Along Outlines" using both copy-paste and pick-whipping, but alas, no luck in the end.

                 

                Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 6.10.46 PM.png

                 

                I understand that I'm stepping outside the realm of conventional procedures in AE, and it might seem absurd that I need to use imported paths like so, but I do, and surprisingly I can't find anyone showing examples of how to do this and yet it seems like it 'should' be feasible. If you can offer any assistance with how to achieve this basic workflow as I have described it, devoid of holistic compositing advice, I would be very grateful.

                 

                Thanks Mylenium et al

                • 5. Re: How can one animate an adjustment layer along a path?
                  Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                  I'm not clear what you are asking. It simply seems that you do not understand that you need to work with multiple instances of the same entities. There simply is no such thing as doing everything in one bold stroke. What you want is perfectly possible and quite easily so, you just need to get away from thinking that you can natively link masks in any manner. You always have to copy&paste to different properties and use multiple layers. Conversely, you need to wrap your head around the concept of how masks work as "masks" and it may be necessary to use additional duplicate layers when transparency is affected by them and how this interacts with effects and features that reference masks to e.g. draw strokes along them. The tutorial is just fine, your brain is just locked into a specific thinking that isn't compatible with how this stuff works in AE.

                   

                  Mylenium

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: How can one animate an adjustment layer along a path?
                    jarombra@gmail.com Level 1

                    Thanks for your assistance Mylenium. Masks aside, I am simply wondering how to use imported (and then converted) shapes as motion paths, that other imported shapes can be animated along. The masking is kind of part-2 of this quandary, but at the most basic I'm just curious how to use existing paths, such as an imported shape path, to define either a motion path of another item, or yes, a mask. The example above, of the blue circle on the green zig-zag is as simple as I can state it -- does this not make sense? If it does, how would you accomplish getting the blue circle to keyframe along the green zig-zag (both are imported/converted shape paths). Specific workflow suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

                     

                    Obviously this scenario of a little blue circle zigzagging around the composition could be easily created within AE, but for my needs, I am using shape files and paths that have to be designed dimensionally (to spec) in Rhino first, neither Ai and certainly not AE affords the dimensional and parametric drafting tools that I need for this particular project, hence my need to start with Rhino. In an easy world, I could do this all in AE using workflows that the application was designed for, but I am confident there is a way to accomplish what I need to get done. It's quite simple in aim, no?