7 Replies Latest reply on Oct 26, 2011 8:07 AM by Rick Gerard

    Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help


      Ok this may get complicated so bear with me. What I am trying to do is get multiple vectors of human figures into a composition so that I can edit them and animate them individually. I have PSD files with each appendage (arms,legs) separated into its own layer so I can animate them in AE (using the puppet tool). I then want to take that PSD file, with layers intact, and import them into an AE composition.


      Let's say I have a composition with a picture of a beach as my background. I then want two human figures in that picture with the ability to animate them separately. If I import a PSD file it turns the whole thing into a composition, with blended layers. When I open that composition separately the layers are still there. But I want to have a composition WITHIN a composition with the ability to still manipulate each individual layer. Ya follow?  Composition (Beach, background) > Composition (Human 1) > (Layer 1, Right Arm), (Layer 2, Left Arm), etc.


      I know you can edit the layers through the composition itself but you're basically animating them in a void, without any background or any other interaction with objects that may be in that composition. And another problem is that I have about 5 master human vectors which I intend to duplicate many times (to have like 10 figures in one composition, each animated separately). Obviously this becomes extremely complicated very fast.


      So basically I need a way to copy a composition with its layers and be able to open up that particular set in a composition to animate it.


      I hope I haven't lost you guys and if you need any other explanations or clarifications I'd be happy to give them. Thanks in advance for your help.



        • 1. Re: Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help
          Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          You shouldn't be having any problems bringing in your psd files with each layer being a separate body part. IOW, a psd of a character with arms legs, head and so on should contain layers that are arms legs, head, and so on. These layers should not be compositions unless you've grouped them or done something other than just put one body part on each layer. If that's the case read on.


          You have two options here. The first is to put all of your characters in the same PSD file with each body part on a separate layer. Don't group the layers, don't group the characters. You don't have to have all of the layers turned on, they will still come into AE as a single comp. Just be careful about naming the layers.


          The second option is to have each character as a separate psd file. Each will come in with all of the body parts as a single layer. You can then start a new composition and open up each characters composition. Copy all layers in each characters composition and paste them into the new composition. Now you have all of the elements in the same composition.


          Just thought of a third way, which may be more efficient. Animate a walk cycle for each character, loop it, then bring the pre-comped walk cycles into your main comp and animate position.

          • 2. Re: Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help
            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

            Well, it's all about structure and you're going about this the wrong way. Where does it say that you "background" only needs to go in the main comp? Just the opposite - build it in a separate comp, use this comp in as many comps as you need as a guide layer or manually toggling its visibility. Similarly, nothing stops you from using Comp A as a guide layer in Comp B and vice versa and then once again use them as normal layers in your main comp. If I may say so, you are trying to be overly smart in the matter and are afraid of (seemingly) duplicate redundant comps, when it's actually what will solve your problems perfectly, including the option to use time remapping or secondary corrective effects like the Puppet tool if you keep everything in its own comp. The rest is just a matter of some smart naming to keep track of things and duplicating stuff in the project window.



            • 3. Re: Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help
              bogiesan Level 4

              Interesting. I read this entirely differently.

              First, I'd be using parenting, not the puppet tool.

              Second, I'd have Human_01, Human_02 and Beach all as separate comps. Beach is a 3D world with a camera. The Humans are 2D comps but they appear as 3D objects in the Beach world so they cast shadows and have z positions although they may be autooriented to point at the camera.

              Third, I'd have each Human comp open in its own dedicated set of locked panes so manipulating the body parts updates immediately into the Beach comp window.

              The Beach world needs a flat sand layer, a flat movie of water, a sky layer, come cloud layers, a sun object and at least two lights representing the Sun and the reflective properties of the sand that act as ambient or fill lighting.




              Message was edited by: bogiesan

              • 4. Re: Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help
                Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                I concur with both of my colleagues. Your work flow is way too complicated. You should be using parenting and most likely Dan Eberts inverse kinematics script to animate your characters. Head over to motionscript.com and check out This Script and see if it isn't what you're looking for.


                I wrote the first reply about 8 hours after emergency surgery so I was a little dopey and not giving the best advice.

                • 5. Re: Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help
                  Todd_Kopriva Level 8

                  > I wrote the first reply about 8 hours after emergency surgery so I was a little dopey and not giving the best advice.


                  I hope you're OK, Rick.

                  • 6. Re: Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help
                    Wade_Zimmerman Level 6

                    There is one question I think the Op should consider before chosing 3D space in AE and that is do they want a 3D space for the animation.


                    And I am not sure there is a reason to lock the background comp?


                    To me this seems like apretty straight forward task that the OP is making to comlicated in their thinking rather than it is in reality.


                    It is human nature to do this but…why make it more complicated than it is?

                    • 7. Re: Layers, Compositions and Vectors-Animation Help
                      Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      On the mend.. Thanks Todd.