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Explore how to create complex physical animations inside After Effects using Newton (a third-party plugin) and the Connect Layers (a free script). This project-based course covers a few specific and popular types of effects, such as letters suspended from strings and connected, randomized spheres. Artist Eran Stern shows how to connect any type of element together in a complex 3D array of strings and work with different dynamic simulations in order to create Dormant and Collision as well as Staggering and Kinematic animation types.
These lessons are perfect for motion graphics artists who want to create earthy physics simulations and add realistic motion to their projects.
Now that we have our setup and we familiarize ourself with all the elements, ie the circles, the collision element, and this little eye box which is represented by the i letter, we can start the simulation. Note that Newton will ignore any layers that the visibility switch is turned off. In our case, this composition, the innovation of loneliness will not appear in the simulation. Okay, so let's go under the composition menu and choose Newton.
Before we start, the plugin will ask us if we want to separate couple of layers that have few elements which are being grouped. Remember that the collision element should stay in one piece. However, the circles should be divided to separate elements. So I'm going to choose only this circles layer and ask Newton to separate it. Here in the Buddies panel, we can see that, indeed, we have 17 different instances of each one of these ellipse.
All the rest of the elements are being respected as one group. If we are going to watch the simulation as is by pressing play, we will see of course that everything is falling apart and these red collision elements will become transparent after it leaves the After Effects time line. Meaning after I trim the end of it. And this is very important because at this point, it is no longer part of the simulation.
Okay. So let's set up couple of things in order to create the desired simulation. First of all, we want to respect the information that we already have in the After Effects timeline. Meaning that, I'm going to select the Collision Element and define the type of it to an AEmatic. Just to remind you an AEmatic is a body or a layer which is already animated inside After Effects. But it will also be influenced by the physics of the Newton engine.
I also want to raise up the mesh precision, so it can look more similar to what we are seeing inside the software. So a value of eight should suffice here. The next thing is to define this little eye as a static object. And the reason is because static objects are not moving anywhere. And we want this tiny ball over here, I'm just going to zoom inside, to actually stick to this point or even bounce on it.
So this should stay in place. Let's test that intermediate result to see what we have so far. I'm going to press play and we see that we have some kind of a simulation not exactly what we want. The AEmatic will treat the After Effects key frame, and then those balls or spheres will fall apart. So we need to actually define these ellipses as a different body type.
Instead of dynamic which is the default state I want to define it as a dormant body. The dormant body will not be influenced by gravity until another body collides with it. And when it will collide with it, it will make it dynamic. So this is exactly what we need. Since everything here is in the same color I'm going to select just one of the ellipses and press C in order to select all the objects that has the same color.
Now, let's change the type to a dormant type. And let's check the simulation once again. And it still doesn't work. And the reason is that we need to define the collision events. Currently, everything in our Buddies simulation is located under group A. And we need to tell the solver what will be affected by the other elements. In other words, we need to separate our bodies to different groups in order for the simulation to create exactly what we want it to do.
I'm going to start with separating this little square represented by the letter i over here. Instead of group A, I'm going to go to the advance option over here and set it to be Group B. Now, I'm going to reselect the collision elements which is still belong to group a, along with all the other elements. And I'm going to disable the collision with group b. So group a elements will not collide with anything defined under group b.
Now let's go to the beginning of the simulation and give it another test. And of course, now it works. So by separating those body types to different groups, we can tell the solver how to affect the other elements and which one of them should be affected. Now I see that the tiny box that I've prepared over here is not exactly on top of this. This is nothing to worry about because we can always select the layers over here and just move them a little bit and then test it once again.
Now, this looks much more promising. However, I think that I want the first ellipse, which is over here, to bounce a little bit more. So let's go back to the General tab and raise the bounciness to, say, 0.5. Let's give it another test. And I think this looks much better. You can also play with the magnitude of their whole solver under the global properties. So let's try to reduce it from 10 to 7, and then return to the first frame of the simulation and check it once again.
And, I think this looks even better. We have more dynamic fluid motion over here. And, I really dig it. Now, I want to export everything, but I don't need to render all the frames until the end of the timeline. I know that around 75 frames, our title is going to appear, so I'm going to set my end frame to 75 and I'm also going to enable motion blur over here.
And then, make sure to apply your solver to a new composition. You can test it once again before rendering it. And I think that we are good to go. So let's hit the render button, and wait for Newton to calculate all the keyframes. Once it's done, you can double-click on the second version of this composition and check it over here. So, we see the first 75 frames which are three seconds in my case. And we have a nice beginning state of this animation all done using a dormant and AEmatic body type inside Newton and also defining different collision groups in order to have a better and precise control over the desired result.
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