I don't understand. Animating a mask is easy, it's one of the basics.
Select the layer with the mask, press the M key to reveal the mask Path property, enable keyframes on a mask path, move down the time line, move a vertex, move down the timeline, move a vertex. EZ as pie. You can use the pen tool and the Alt/option (to convert vertex) or Cmnd/Ctrl (to select a vertex) to move the vertices.
I'm not sure what you're doing that's making this so hard.
If I understand the problem, you want to be able to redefine the vertex points of a mask by clicking directly on a new location, rather than by dragging the existing vertex point...?
Unfortunately, they don't work that way. But you can work around it by creating a new mask on each frame (which will allow you to click on the new vertex points each time) then cut and paste the mask shape keyframe from one mask to the other. But it is potentially a lot slower than just moving the points around.
AE doesn't have point&click masks and that is that. As annoying as it is, but it can't be helped...
Yes, Andrew. That's exactly it. You totally understand the problem, and really annoying isn't it...
I don't doubt for a second that companies like ILM have written a much better rotoscoping system. The vertex/bezier tool system seems unnecessarily complicated to me. (but I'm not a programmer)
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AE does have a better roto tool, it's called RotoBrush.
Once you get used to working with AE's mask tools it's very easy to move things around and animate. I prefer selecting RotoBezier because it's closer to the roto tools I used to use in Commotion (hands down the best affordable roto tools out there, in fact I still have an old machine in the garrage with commotion standing by if I ever have a big roto project. Nothing I've ever seen is better) but sadly Commotion is not made any more, is not compatible with current and current OS, and nobody bought the design from, I think, Avid, who supposedly now owns it.
Here's a great tutorial on Roto by Scott Squires using commotion. Check out part 1 of the tutorial for the setup for the spot.
Yeah Commotion does look good. Rick is there any way of converting bitmap lines to vertex? Do you know what I'm on about?