Mograph Techniques: Physics Simulations in After Effects
Illustration by John Hersey

Mograph Techniques: Physics Simulations in After Effects

with Eran Stern

Video: Create joints

We are ready now to create the simulation Now inside the bodies over here, we see that we So we have three more rows to go, or columns I should say.

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Watch the Online Video Course Mograph Techniques: Physics Simulations in After Effects
2h 0m Intermediate Apr 11, 2014

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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.

Topics include:
  • Building a random sphere animation
  • Creating a tree connection
  • Animating letters dangling from rope
  • Creating body types and groups
  • Staggering layer simulation
After Effects
Eran Stern

Create joints

We are ready now to create the simulation based on the preparation work that, I did earlier. Do note that if any one of the layers is turned off in terms of visibility, it will not show that in the Newton simulation solver. Also the sound will not be the part of the process. So you will not be able to hear any audio that you have in your timeline. Now that we know all of this, let's make sure that composition is highlighted and let's go under the composition menu and choose Newton number two.

Now inside the bodies over here, we see that we have all the things that we just saw in after effects. And we need to define the connection between each one of them. My aim here is to create strings of ropes, using these tiny dots. And connect each one of these vertical lines through the corresponding letter and then let the simulation take care of itself. If we're going to press on the play in order to see what we have before doing anything we, will get the expected results.

So Newton basically took every one of these elements and gave them the dynamic type. So, because we don't have any floor and the gravity is pulling them down, this is what we are getting. So let's change this default behavior. Our first mission is to connect each rows together by using the joints over here. This is a quite easy task although it a little bit repetitive.

So I'm just going to mark here around my first row over here and then let's use the first option over here which is head distance joint. This we connect the dots together and we'll create something which looks like a rope. Now let's repeat the same thing the next tool. So this is the dots above the X. These are above the P. And you get the deal. I'm just going to select each one of them and connect the dots.

This is why it was so important, to do this prep work in order to get everything working exactly how you wish them to. So we have three more rows to go, or columns I should say. And this is it. Now, we want to make sure that the top dot for every one of these rows are static, because we want to create the illusion that this rope is actually stretching due to the gravity factor that we have over here.

So just mark it around the. Upper dots, be very careful not to select anything else. And then, while they're all selected, and you can verify it here in the Buddies panel. Just convert the type to be static. And this will leave the first dot over here. If we're going to play the simulation in this state, you will see that, only the text is falling down and the ropes are standing still.

Next, we need to connect the letters to the lower points. So, we turn to the first frame. And let's just zoom inside so we will be able to select exactly what we need. I'm going to marquee around the lower dot including the e-shape and then use the same thing connected with a distant joint. Then I'm going to repeat the same steps for all the other layers. Let's make sure to select exactly what you need.

And we will worry about the connection anchor point in the next step. But for now let's just create this behavior that every one of the letters is actually being connected to the joint, or to the point above it. Alright, now let's zoom out, return to the first frame, and check the simulation at the current state. Okay, we are getting somewhere. We can see that it is behaving as expected.

And you can see that the simulation keep calculating. Even though in our timeline we only have 125 frames including the zero starting frame. So when we hit lender, it will only calculate the duration between the start and the end frame. OK let's work on it a little bit and make it more believable. I'm going to zoom inside once more and then I'm going to select only the joint that I want to affect.

Now, it might be a little bit difficult for you, so just marquee around the area, and then select it over here in the joints panel. In our case, this is joint number 89. And now that you see the red indicator which means that this joint is highlighted and selected, you can use the anchor tool and the shortcut for it is y which is the same shortcut inside After Effects so either press on the tool or press y.

And then change the connection anchor point, so it will be at the logical position. In our case, it should be somewhere over here. Once again I'm going to zoom in, in order to see a better representation. The x looks quite nice so it should connect here in the cross, and then remember to re-select the selection tool, and once again repeat the same steps for the other joints. So in this case we want to change the anchor point for the "P", make sure that you see the lead indicators, press Y in order to activate the anchor point tool, and just drag it to it's place.

Once again return to the selection tool, either by pressing on the' v' shortcut or by pressing it over here, re-select whatever you want to do, select it over here hitting the joint's panel, press' y' and work with a tool in order to change it to their relevant position. I'm quickly going to go to the next joint by pressing v and y and fix the other letters as well.

So, each time I'm pressing v, then trying to make sure that I'm using the correct tool. So, just be aware that, if you're not seeing the red indicator, you're probably not moving the correct thing. We've got couple of them to work with. So, let's deal with those quickly. The end looks quite nice. Let's work with the c. So, select it. Select the encore tool.

Make sure that it is in the same location. And, we've got two more to go, so, v In order to select the selection tool, then Y. And, you get the drift. It is very easy. A little bit of a labor work, but not too complicated in terms of what you need to do. Okay, looks like everything is being set up. I'm going to zoom out once more. Go to the beginning of the simulation and test it once again. And now it looks much better because the letters are actually hanging from the relevant position.

Okay. This is the first step. You now have the option to either render the result and see what it looks like, or just make sure to just Auto Load,Save the settings if you want to continue to finesse it, and this is what we are going to do in the next movie.

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