6 Replies Latest reply on Mar 29, 2017 9:52 AM by Gutterfish

    Departure Board: Starting and stopping and starting again with expressions?


      Sorry if this question was asked before. I searched this forum and google and so on, but couldn't find any help.

      I'm a newbie to after effects and expressions.


      This is my topic:

      I have a base comp that shoes a departure board like it is on airports or railway stations. It is divided in three lines, each with thirteen flipping cards.

      Every flipping card is a layer with the same little animation where the letters rotate from A to z. All together 39 single flipping cards.

      What I try to achieve is that all the letters at first make one loop from A to Z. In the next loop one flipping card should stop for example at "P", the next one when it reaches "O" and so on until the last one has reached the desired letter for the complete word i want to show. The rest should stay at their base blank position. After a few seconds the letters should start from their last stopping point or the base position, rotate and stop one after another at the desired next letter of the next word. Again holding this word for a few secs and rotate again.


      Up to this point i've done this with time remapping and thousends of keyframes for starting and stopping points.

      But, it is a horror show of layers and keyframes.

      If i want to pause a word for a little longer i have to move thousands of keyframes.

      It's a mess.


      Also I have the problem, that i have to loop manually and this leads to the problem, that at the end of a loop, before the next loop starts, for only one frame blinks a  "back loop" to the starting point. I've made a blank layer wich i position all over my departure board every time this effect appears.


      Is there a more elegant way by using e.g. markerkeys, expressions etc. to let this all work?

      Most of the answers i've found until now deal with the topic of wiggleing, random effects, moving an objekt or changing values e.g. for opacity.

      What i need is an ability to control timeline, time remapping and looping at very certain points.


      Sorry again for my stupid explantation of the topic, but my english is as worse as my knowledge base for after effects ;-)


      Thanks for your help in advance.

        • 1. Re: Departure Board: Starting and stopping and starting again with expressions?
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          Sure, it could all be rigged up with expressions, but that doesn't mean it would necessarily be simpler. that and of course someone would have to sit down to write the code in the first place.



          • 2. Re: Departure Board: Starting and stopping and starting again with expressions?
            martinw51935614 Level 1

            Thanks for your answer.


            As i said, i'm looking for a more elegant way.

            I don't want anyone to do all the work for me, writing any extended scripts i don't understand in the end.

            Sorry, if this was the impression my question suggested.


            I've tried to summarize it as i wrote, that i'm looking for a ability to control the timeline.

            Maybe i've searched not enough or did it with the wrong keywords.

            But espeacially on this topic i couldn't find any answers.

            • 3. Re: Departure Board: Starting and stopping and starting again with expressions?
              Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Personally I would create a loop that just has characters flipping and add some motion blur. Then I would set up s short comp that has the final letters flipping into place. I would then just start editing the lines of text by putting the loop in between the new words. There's no way somebody watching this video is going to be able to tell whether or not you went from p to m buy rolling through the alphabet one letter at a time.


              I hope this gives you some more options.


              Let me think out loud for a few minutes. Just tying a slider to a character value can give you a bunch of changing letters, but they won't be in order. That's the biggest problem with your idea, characeer 13 is not M and character 14 is not N so you can't just use numbers to drive the changes.


              If you had a rolling alphabet you could use a simple expression on time remapping to start and stop at specific letters and roll through the alphabet and stop at a specific letter. An easier way may be to use layer markers to set the stop letters and just not worry about cycling through at a specific rate.


              I hope these suggestions help. The most important thing to learn in film production is that film is not real. It's an illusion and the most efficient way to tell your story is to make things appear to work instead of actually working.


              Come to think of it I think I'd create a bottom layer that had all of the letters cycling trough on a roll for the entire shot. Then I would create short layers with the letters forming the words that you want to reveal and just edit them in maybe with an expression based on in and out points controlling directional blur and opacity so it looked like they were moving for the one or two frames where they start and stop. That would be the easiest way for me to approach the project as you have described it. I would never worry about having the letters sequentially move from one word to the next.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Departure Board: Starting and stopping and starting again with expressions?
                martinw51935614 Level 1

                Hi Rick, thanks for your detailed answer.

                You described very well some of the issues i have with this animation.

                I've added the motion blur in my comp with all the cycling letters and that works fine.


                Maybe you're right, nobody watching this video will be able to tell weather or not my characters went in the corrct alphabetical order, but to me it is important. Because it is nothing you see, but there are character orders in the alphabet like A, B, C, D every child knows. And i think, it will irritate the viewer when this order is disturbed, even if they couldn't say why.


                So at first i will try it with the layer markers. This was also my idea of working this out. Maybe with some if-clauses. Are there any tutorials on adobe.com or youtube, especially for my topic? To be honest, i'm not able to find anything basic in that direction.

                I was searching for the last week, unable to find anything that matches really my efforts. Maybe i use the wrong search terms.


                If i understand you're idea in the last paragraph right, you suggest to loop all my single letters through a base layer for the whole animation time and just make anaother comp with short layers apearing in order of the word i want to form. I thought this out in a very similar way, but some characters have to apear more often than others, like "E" or "N", for some times in the same word. I'm not sure, if this will only relocate my problem on another level. And, as i said before, it disturbes the alphabetical order. But maybe you're right, maybe it's a better and elegant way. I will give this also a try.


                Thanks again for your help and suggestions.

                • 5. Re: Departure Board: Starting and stopping and starting again with expressions?
                  Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  I've seen and photographed several of the real departure boards in airports in train stations all over the world and the letters change so quickly that you can't really see them. I don't think alphabetical order has much to do with it. Many boards are smart. They take the shortest path to the next letter. If going from d to a they just back up, they don't cycle through the entire alphabet. Most of the departure boards use a split flap to cycle through the letters and with most, there is so much going on that it's hard to read what's going on.

                  I always find it helpful to search for footage of similar things so I can analyze the shot and figure out the easiest way to accomplish the task. These appear to be going in alphabetical order but it is really difficult to focus in on one of them and figure that out. Mostly the boards just go crazy for a while until the new word or time is completed.


                  I think building a couple of lines of text using text animators might do the trick. You could get the letters to run through the alphabet using the decoder preset and create your final words in another layer, then add some additional animators and sync the range selector to get the words to appear.

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Departure Board: Starting and stopping and starting again with expressions?
                    Gutterfish Adobe Community Professional

                    Rick's advice about not trying to make it work the way it works in the real world is really invaluable advice.

                    Realizing it was best to "cheat" wherever and whenever I could was a real watershed for me.

                    When we're creating we watch the sequence over & over & over & over etc... We know what is wrong so we see it.

                    When the target viewer watches it, it will flash before their eyes in a few seconds & they will see what they think they should be seeing

                    rather than what they are actually seeing.

                    This is a really interesting phenomenon to look into.

                    The majority of what we see, we do not see with our eyes but with our brains.

                    Our brain often sees what it thinks should be there based on past experience, rather than what is really there.

                    Pretty crazy stuff, but true.

                    Learning when you can "cheat the eye" in CG is super important.

                    When I was new I was trying to recreate real world things in the 3D & it cause me huge headaches.

                    Cheat they eye.

                    1 person found this helpful