Tutorial 109: Pixel Sorting Shift

Joe Clay | Feb 9, 2018

This week's After Effects tutorial builds upon a previous tutorial, Tutorial 82: Pixel Sorting and More. Here we use an animated precomp to pull a map to feed to a bunch of Displacement Map effects. The result is a nice pixel sorted shift transition that can be changed in many ways. We only just scratch the surface of what's possible with this setup.

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Tutorial 108: Cinematic Parallax

Joe Clay | Feb 2, 2018

In this week's After Effects tutorial, we explore a simple technique to fly over a scene using nothing but a still or a locked-off time lapse. A lot of my early career was trying to rub two stills together to make a fire, so I always found techniques like this helpful. But even now it's still fun being able to make something with a 3 dimensional feel out of 2D footage.

As for the 2D footage, shots with an even horizon work best, but we even used some odd angles and it still worked well enough. The idea for this came from YouTube user This Is Enot who asked about the transitions in this cool project on Envato—Cinematic Parallax. Since we already have Tutorial 82: Pixel Sorting and More, we passed that along but decided to make a tutorial about this style of parallax. If you like the look of the example, go check out the other stuff they're selling on Envato. I haven't purchased their animations, but they look to be worth grabbing.

Our version is built in the traditional way—masking parts out of layers and putting them into 3D space. But we also add layers of atmospherics like particulates, and round it out—quite literally—with the Optics Compensation Effect to accentuate the movement by subtly curving the edges so that it appears that you're moving through the image rather than simply scaling it.

Have fun, and take it further!

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Tutorial 107: A Plexus for the Rest of Us

Joe Clay | Jan 26, 2018

This week we're having a Plexivus (Plexus) for the rest of us. Plexus is an excellent plugin. A lot of things can be done with it. But if you're not going to take advantage of all that it has to offer, and you just want something Plexus-lite, you can watch this tutorial to make a nice repeating background with some of that Plexus flavor and none of the calories.

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Tutorial 106: Making Waves

Joe Clay | Jan 19, 2018

In this week's tutorial we take a request from YouTube user LRZMRQ. He asked us to take a look at two videos that have a similar wave effect—Lullaby Theories: A Secret Message and CNN - Love in Conflict - Yana's Letter—and recreate it. Also, check them out. They're both worthy of watching all the way through.

We borrow on a couple of past techniques to build this effect. We use our old friend the curved Zig Zag from Tutorial 01: Sine Wave and we combine that with Wiggle Paths, and the technique from Tutorial 55: Mo Better Blobs—but not the one from the tutorial itself. Instead we look at the better version from Motion Café explained in the text below the tutorial on that page.

The idea here is to come up with a more organic wave than can be obtained through any of those things alone. So we take a triangle in this case, though it can be any shape, add a Zig Zag set to smooth, add Wiggle Paths, duplicate that group, change the second version slightly, and then use Offset Paths to expand and blob the waves together, and then another Offset Paths to bring it back in. Unlike the Blobs, instead of setting the Offset Paths to be inverses of each other, we expand more than we contract, so that our paths are a little more round.

If you need to loop this and need copies, or if you want to change the look, change the Random Seeds in each Wiggle Paths to be something non-zero. Having it set to zero means it will randomize as you add other things to the shape layer, and it won't be the same on duplicates layers either.

And that's basically it. Now it's up to you to modify it and use it in an interesting way!

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Tutorial 105: Reverse Direction with Expressions

Joe Clay | Jan 12, 2018

This week, we're looking at reversing the direction of things like trim paths, and other effects that use ranges, like text animators. Our expression is simple and I'd even call it elegant since we basically end up with one quick math equation that suits both the forward and reversed directions.

You can apply this to pretty much any parameter you'd like if you need to reverse the way things are moving. I would highly recommend you animate from 0-1 and multiply that value by the maximum value of the range. So if you're modifying an angle for example, you want to end up with your value * 360. If you're using Flow or messing with easing, you might need to adjust them for such a small range. The multiplication should not have an effect since we're just changing the values after that.

So here's the basic expression. Don't forget to add a Checkbox Expression Control and call it Reverse. maximumValue is the extent of your range—i.e. 360 for an angle control.

rev = effect("Reverse")("Checkbox");
Math.abs(value-rev)*maximumValue;

We're using a checkbox on a Null for the next two examples. The conditional version I mentioned that changes the Trim Paths offset looks similar to the example below, but you'll have to modify it for your purposes. I knew the default value of 0 was fine since I originally animated it that way. But I left the Reverse condition as value so I could still slide the value around to set it up.

if(thisComp.layer("Control").effect("Reverse")("Checkbox").value) {
    value;
} else {
    0;
};

One of the strokes in our example had an animated offset, so I decided that rather than reanimating that range, I was going to just offset it by 120 degrees and subtract time * 30 as we go along, which offsets us by 120 degrees and moves the offset back enough to counteract and surpass how far it moves forward in the non-reversed version—thus moving it backwards in the reversed version.

if(thisComp.layer("Control").effect("Reverse")("Checkbox").value) {
    value-120-(time*30);
} else {
    value;
};

Depending upon how you set things up, you might be able to set up your offset with just the checkbox. For example if one way your offset is 20 degrees and the other is -20 degrees, you could set your value to 20 and do something like this:

rev = effect("Reverse")("Checkbox");
((rev*2)-1)*-value;

That way if Reverse is checked, it would be ((1 2) - 1) -20 = -20 which simplifies to 1 -20 = -20. Otherwise it would be (0 2) - 1) -20 = 20 which simplifies to -1 -20 = 20.

While that might seem convoluted at first, it was relatively easy to figure out. We need a range from -1 to 1 to multiply against our value. So that's a range 2 numbers wide. We only have a range one number wide—from 0-1. So now we just double the size of the range by multiplying by 2. This gets us a new range of 0-2 which is the right length but not the right numbers! So subtract one from the range and we offset our range from -1 to 1. Perfect.

So obviously there are a ton of ways to use this, especially if you really exploit the power of number ranges.

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Tutorial 104: Interesting Reveals

Joe Clay | Jan 5, 2018

Happy New Year! Let's kick of 2018 with another glitchy tutorial that allows you to quickly and easily reveal any element. This technique is infinitely extensible since you can basically use any effect to get a different animation. It's a super handy way to build out a ton of text, but it's also easy to add to backgrounds so you can get transitions too. And it's so easy to build, you won't mind making different versions that will all likely feel similar, but be different enough that it's not completely repeatable. So throw some masks on your layers and experiment!

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Tutorial 103: Isometric Projection

Joe Clay | Dec 29, 2017

This week we take a look at how to make an isometric projection by either faking an isometric camera in After Effects, or using the SSR—Scale, Shear or Skew, and Rotate—method.

We also rig up a cubic object so that we can control it with sliders. You can use this to build anything cubic, like buildings. And I forgot to mention it during the tutorial, but if you duplicate the sides and make them smaller, you can combine them with a repeater to get windows!

If you need to snap to the grid, you can use things like the windows, or a hexagon to snap to. If you have snapping turned on—up top next to Fill and Stroke—you should be able to snap to those features. With snapping off, you can still snap by holding Cmd/Ctrl. Make sure the other two items are checked in that snapping section so you can snap to all sorts of things as you can see in the example below.

Also, a few people noted this is easy to do in C4D. Sure, unless you use it in other ways like this. You'd have to do a lot of setup to do this in C4D for example.

For more information about the math involved, check out this Tuts+ Illustrator tutorial, and be sure to read the comments as well. And you might also find our Tutorial 87: Angular Controls to be helpful when moving things along the isometric grid.

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Tutorial 102: Character Organization

Joe Clay | Dec 22, 2017

This week, we have a quick workflow tip. For some reason, I've seen a bunch of people split their layers in order to do 2D character animations where body parts pass in front of and behind other parts. In this quick tutorial we tie a slider to a minute adjustment of z-position so we can have a single layer pass on either side of a character. animate the position, but if you don't want to separate the dimensions, it can be unruly to deal with. And usually you want to keep X and Y tied together for character animation anyway.

Hopefully this is one of those tutorials that's so simple you'll wonder why you didn't think of it. But if it's something you've already thought of, well, congrats on your character organization prowess and I'll see you next week!

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Tutorial 101: 2D-3D Parallax

Joe Clay | Dec 15, 2017

This week we look at a useful way to map a precomp's frames to its position on screen. This allows us to fake a 3D rotation as things move across screen. You basically animate shape layers to the extreme positions, add our expression, and you're done. You can also do this with 3D layers. Just rotate them a little bit and bring them in. In this example I animated the trees by putting a null in the middle of them, parenting a camera to that null, and then rotating the null 60° over 180 frames. Then, back in After Effects, you can either parent these layers to a null and animate the null's position or just animate their position directly.

Layer Dolly

//Remap time to rotate house as they dolly by
s = this.source.name;
end = comp(s).duration;
x = this.toWorld(this.anchorPoint)[0];
linear(x,2052,-152,0,end);

This was changed from the version in the video where the duration of the layer was hard coded into the expression. This will grab the duration of the layer from its source precomp. That should allow the precomps to be at a different frame rate from the main comp if that is desired.

If you have any questions, ask them. If not, see you next week!

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Tutorial 100: Rollin' Rig

Joe Clay | Dec 8, 2017

We've hit 100—100 tutorials and 10K subscribers! What a way to end the year! But before that, Santa's got to come to town. He's upgraded his ride a little bit.

This week's tutorial looks at a useful way to set up a rolling car rig, but we also look into calculating the angles between wheels so we can add some additional movement to the car's suspension. Relevant expressions are below. But if you want the ultimate in rolling, be sure to go grab Roll it! from Tomas Sinkunas (aka renderTom) from aescripts!

Angle Calculation Expression (be sure to change the layer name for p2)

p1 = transform.position;
p2 = thisComp.layer("Layer Name").transform.position;
angle = Math.atan2(p1[1] - p2[1], p1[0] - p2[0]);
radiansToDegrees(angle);

Delay Expression (adjust to fit your values)

a = thisComp.layer("Body Axis").transform.rotation.valueAtTime(time-1);
if(a<-180) { a += 360; }
ease(a,-2,2,-5,5);

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