Have you tried selecting the Shape property from the Mask in the timeline, setting the units to Pixels and then adjusting the values? This allows you to set the 4 corners of the bounding box that is the mask. Non uniform Bezier curves can make the actual shape of the mask a little smaller than the bounding box.
Are you referring to the Mask Shape dialogue box that pops up when I click on Shape? It has pixel values but they aren't intuitive at all. The top value is -670.9 px, for instance. Relative to what, I have no idea.
Your image just appeared. That's the one - but it's not clear what values to enter to have a 930x930 mask on a 1000x1000 compostion.
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They refer to the size of the layer. Do some experimenting with a rectangular or eliptical mask.
If you want a 400 X 300 eliptical mask centered on a 800 X 600 layer then you could type in 150 for the top, 450 for the bottom (that's 300 pixels high) and 200 for the left and 600 for the right.
Masks on text layers are measured from the center of the text layer so a 300 by 400 mask on centered on a text layer would be -150 for the top, 150 for the bottom, -200 for the left and 200 for the right. Baseline of the text layer is at 0 by default so if you want your mask to be exactly centered around the text you'll have to adjust the baseline shift to get the anchor point in the physical center of the text.
Setting the baseline to the physical center of the text can't be done numerically because fonts don't have a universal height based on point size. IOW a 40 point (or pixel in AE) Helvetica is not necessarily going to be the same height in pixels as a 40 point Garamond.
You can also use guides. Guides plus the info pannel will give you real time feedback when creating your masks. You can see the top, left, bottom, and right positions. Holding down the Ctrl/Cmnd key will make the mask expand symetrically around the starting point. This is usefull when you want to center a mask on a layer. Guides are probably the best way to go, and if you want a bunch of masks on different layers to be exactly the same size then copy and paste is the easiest way to go here.
Hope this helps.
One more thing, If you want an eliptical mask of a specific size, say 952 X 952, then just create a layer that's that size and then double click the eliptical mask tool in the tool bar. If you needed that mask on another layer of a different size you could just copy it and paste it to the new layer.
Message was edited by: Rick Gerard
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How can I precisely re-size this mask (and other shapes, for that matter)?
By doing the obvious: Create a solid of exact size, double-click on the mask shape icon, copy&paste the resulting fitting mask to whatever layer you need it on. While Rick is of course right about all that other stuff, this sounds to me like the solution that people would pick who just love to do things the hard way...
Thanks, I'll try that -- although I'm not certain it's an obvious solution.
Don't really undertand why AE doesn't just let one define the size in a simple palette as most (or all) other graphics progs do instead of making one go through a lot of steps.
Ironically, I'm using AE because Flash still doesn't support type on a path. Seems like every prog is missing at least one vital feature!
Yep, it worked - but it sure is a lot of steps to achieve a simple task!
I cuious as to why the masks need to be so precise.
In nearly 100% of my work I either use a guide or just visually move things around. It only takes a second. Getting layers or edges to exactly match up is usually a simple matter of adjusting the anchor point. Lining up text is always a visual process for me. Even sizing text that must be 20 scan lines high to comply with FCC regulations for TV is just a matter of creating a 20 pixel high solid to use as a guide then dragging the text size slider until the characters are the same height as my text layer.
I'm actually doing a project in Flash that has animated type on a series of concentric circles. Flash, for whatever insane reason, cannot do type on a path so I'm animating the type in AE, exporting it as a SWF and then importing it into Flash.
It needs to be very precise to look good and eyeballing the size is not a good option although I ultimately did end up eyeballing the size of the path in AE using extreme magnification and a layout imported from Fireworks.
But that is tedious and time consuming.
It is ridiculous that after so many (12?) versions that Flash can't do type on a path and that AE doesn't have a simple palette for accurately adjusting the size and position of elements.
I think Adode needs some competition!
Thanks, Todd. I've bookmarked the page.
Try this. Create your paths in Illustrator then copy and paste them into AE. AE, and all compositing programs and every 3D program that I know of works on a grid system. I agree that masks could be improved in AE, but by using guides and an eyeball it's been very easy for me to line things like masks up with pixel perfect accuracy.
As for type on a path in Flash there's THIS option using a thing called Puppet Strings. There are also several other options.
Thanks for the askville link, Rick.
As the link suggests, I originally created the art in Fireworks and then imported it into Flash but Flash rasterizes the type and when animated it looked like complete crap.
Again, type-on-a-path or re-sizing/positioning are tasks that are dead easy in other Adobe programs, so why not all of them?
And while I'm on my soap box, I'd really like to see all the UIs redesigned to be more similar and integrated.
InDesign, PhotoShop and Illustrator all "feel' the same and it makes life so much easier when jumping around programs.
I know Adobe acquired a lot of its programs rather than creating them from scratch but still, it's time to tighten things up!