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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.
After creating the simulation inside Newton, we are ready to join these little dots into groups and connect the groups to each one of the letters. I'm going to turn off the audio momentarily and hit zero in order to see the result. And now we are ready to illustrate these as lines that actually connect these dots that are moving in this timeline. For that I'm going to use a script from the same creators of Newton Motion Boutique.
The name of the script is Connect Layers, it is a free script. And I explained how to install it and what could be done with it, in the first movie in the previous chapter. So if you want more details you can go ahead and watch this movie. I already have it in my system, so I'm going to the file menu, and under Scripts let's fire up Connect Layers. I'm going to move it out of the way over here. In this example, we are going to use the rope simulation.
Now, we need to define which are the layers that should be connected. This is the reason that every group of layers have different colors or different label tags here in the timeline. It will make a little bit more easier to control. So I'm going to select the first one, the Fuchsia layer, and use these select label group menu, and then choose the rope option. And this will create a U shape layer in the timeline.
It will also name it rope and additional numbers which actually represent the name of the layers that are being connected. If we're going to select the composition and zoom out we can see that the layers or the dots actually are above the screen. And this is quite important because we do need the space in order to move them lower and connect it eventually to the letters themselves. But for now, I'm going to repeat the same steps over and over again.
Now, each time that I'm going to do this, I'm going to reselect the current group that I just did, turn off the i-fared, and also shy the layers. This way when I'm pressing on the shy icon, I will only be left with the rope itself and will not see the tiny dots which are actually here only as guidance. Just in order to see what we managed to create so far, I'm just going to create a quick preview.
So we can see that this is the rope now and it's actually moving in a very natural manner. Alright. Now that we know what we need to do, let's do it once again for the other layers. So, the retrial is this select label group in order to select every little dot in this group, press on the rope in order to create a rope from them. Now, reselect the same group, turn off the visibility, switch the shy option on and they will disappear from the timeline.
Let's do it for the other layers, as well. So I'm going to select the next group, press on the word Rope for the Connect Layers dialogue, and then once again do the same thing. Now, since this is a repetitive task, I'm not going to make you sit here and watch me, I'm just going to pause the recording and meet you after the rest of the layers are being taken care of. Okay, so after a few moments of labor work, we are done and this is what we have in this stage.
Of course, the wires are still not connected to the layers. We will deal with it in a moment. But we do have a much tidier timeline, and we can see that we have ropes and we have those letters, and all the layers in between are, of course, hidden in shy. Okay, let's return to the full interface. We can close the connect player interface. And if you want you can also name those ropes just to be a little bit more organized.
So this one will be rope for the letter S, this one of course will be for the letter E, et cetera. So I'm just quickly going to do so and this will help us in a moment. Of course if you are moving this work between other After Effects artists they will have much more information. Just by looking at this timeline, they will know what to expect and which layer belongs to which letter. Okay, we are almost done here with the naming stage.
So, we're rope p and we have rope x and rope e. You may think that I'm a very compulsive person, and you all are right, but, this will prove to be very helpful in the next coming stages. So now that we have all the ropes being set up, let's select them. Press p in order to see their position. And play with the y position until they are touching the head of the letters.
Now, at this point, you can also make your timeline bigger. And let's close all those ropes. And also drag them underneath the letters themselves. So the letters will actually hide them from view. Now let's return to the ropes, and I'm going to press F2 and then reselect rope x in the timeline. Press p and lower its position until it will dodge the cross in the x over here.
And we can zoom in, in order to check the result and also press cmd + shift + h, ctrl + shift + h on the PC, in order to hide the outline of the layer. Let's do the same for the n. See why it is important to name the layers? We can easily identify them. And I think that we are more or less done. Now let's test this animation by creating a quick event preview, to see how it is hanging and I think it's working very nice.
And this is how you use the free script connect layers in order to create the simulation of a rope, and also attach it to the letters which also have their own movement created using the Newton plugin.
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