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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.
In this chapter we'll start to recreate few scenes from the final movie. We'll rely heavily on the usage of Newton which is a plug in that works inside After Effects. And it can imitate physics behavior based on real world gravity and rigid body dynamics. In this movie, I want to give you a very quick introduction to Newton. And in order to do so, we'll use this basic composition that you see here.
This composition have already four layers. Three of them are shape layers. So we've got the floor, the glass, and the bottle. And the upper layer is an After Effects text, which has a very basic position animation. So, just so you'll see, I'm going to eight zero. And create a very quick grand preview. By the way, the composition is 10 seconds long. Now we are ready to launch Newton and play a little bit inside of it.
I'm saying it because you have to launch Newton from a dedicated manual. It will not be under the Effect, or the Effects and Presets panel. You should go to the Composition panel, and Newton will be over here. By the way, if you haven't selected anything, all the layers in the timeline will be included in the simulation. Now, this is the Newton interface, as you see it, of course. And, each represent each one of the layers. So, we can see the floor, the glass, the bottle, the gravity.
And of course here you can play the simulation just to see how it's going to look. So let's just hit Play and see what happens. And we see that everything is falling down. And the reason is that all those elements, all those layers are getting the dynamic type by default. So, the first thing that you need to do is define to Newton what each and every element should do. For example, if I'm going to select the flow layer over here I can change the type from dynamic to static.
And of course static is a non-moving body in side Newton. Just by doing so and recreating the simulation by hitting play, we can get this look, which looks very cool but wait for it. It is just the beginning. I'm going to rewind the animation to the first frame and then I'm going to select the glass. And this is just so we can see the other types that we have here. So, as I said the dynamic is a body which is a layer that is fully controlled by the solver and this is the default type.
So every layer that gets inside Newton if you didn't change anything will be a dynamic layer. We have a couple of other options which we will cover more deeply in the next movies. But I just want to give you a quick overview, so you know what you'll have. For example, the kinematic type is some layer that is already being animated inside After Effects. Which means it has key frames or expression. And its motion pass will not be altered by the physics engine over here until the end of the animation and then the body or the layer becomes dynamic.
The dormant, on the other hand, is a layer which is not influenced by gravity until another layer is going to collide with it and then it will make it dynamic. So for example, let's select the bottle over here and convert it to a dormant type. And then let's hit Play to see the simulation. And you see that we are getting a different result. So this is what dormant object will act like. And then we have another option.
For that I'm going to choose the word gravity over here. And I'm going to select AEmatic. AEmatic or After Effects-matic is a body or a layer which is already animated inside After Effects. Which means that it has key frames or expression, but it also being influenced with the physics engine. So it's something like a hybrid between the kinematic type and the dynamic type. So, if you want the Newton engine to include the animation you already set up in the After Effects you can choose this type.
So remember that gravity has a little bit of a motion path, this means that our simulation now will look a little bit different. And of course what makes it so unique is that you can see the simulation and the result in real time and you can create changes as you go. The last type here is Dead, and this means that if we're setting one of the objects to Dead, it will be completely ignored by the solver. Okay. Less interesting in our case. Let's set it back to AEmatic, and let's hit play.
Now, for every one of the objects you have a couple of other options over here, like frictions, bounciness, color, which represents the color of the layer, some mesh precisions, velocity, and other stuff. We're not going to deal with each and every one of them, but feel free to play along. There is also an advanced option, which allows you to control things like magnetism and even increase gravity scale.
I'm going to switch back to the general tab, and draw your attention to the global properties over here. Here we can set the gravity magnitude and direction. So if you want to change the gravity to some other direction you can basically just take this line and just pull it away from the inner point. This will change the magnitude and of course the direction. So, once again, let's return to the beginning and press play.
We see that we are getting a completely different result. If you want to reset it to the default behavior, just click on those tiny dots, and this will reset it to where it was at the starting point. We also couple of options, general options for the solver, and we'll deal with those later on in this chapter. So, let's return to the beginning once again, and let's hit play just to see what we are getting. And let's assume that we like this simulation and we want to render it to After Effects' timeline.
All you need to do is press on the Render button. If you want Newton to enable motion blur for the layers you can do it from here or you can do it later on. Just know that Newton will apply its calculation to a new composition and you can also set the start and ending frames. Because this is a simulation, it will go on forever. So if you don't define anything, you can just render the whole frames from the beginning until the end, or you can just set it to the marching, according to your needs.
Later on we will speak about the Jones over here. And you see that you have a couple of options to control them. There is another important thing, any of these that current solve. If you want to get out of it, and do some adjustments inside After Effects, and continue from the same point, so you don't need to define the body types, et cetera. You can go under the File menu and choose the Auto Load/Save Settings.
This of course will save the settings according to what you've created so far. So let's just make sure that this is active and let's hit Render and see what happens. After the calculation has been finished, you will have a new composition usually with the suffix two. And you can double-click on it and create a long preview inside After Effects. Now, from this point onwards, these are all basic key frames. So if I'm going to select everything over here and press U in order to see the key frames, we can see that each one of the layers in this case has got position and rotation key frames, which describes the movement that we just saw when we used the solver.
This means that after you created these compositions you can send them to any after effects user even if he doesn't have a licence of Newton and he can keep working on this. So this is a great thing. There is one last thing that I like to mention and this is the fact that this is a 2D physical simulation system and it's also limited to rigid body only. Which means that every object can only collide with another object, but it cannot take the same space in the composition.
It also worth to mention that Newton works beautiful with shape layers and text as you saw. However if we going to go to the first state here and this is the original composition we each left untouched because we created a duplicate copy. And let's say that we want to split the letters. So instead of the words just falling down, each one of the letters will have its own gravity and colliding attributes.
We can do it easily inside After Effects and Newton can help you to do the rest. So, the reason that I'm pointing it is because there is a lot of preparation work, usually, before getting inside the simulation and testing few behaviors. For example in this case I'm going to select the word gravity and then from the Layer menu I'm going to choose, Create Shapes From Text. This will turn off the gravity letters, or the gravity type, and create a similar look using the shape attributes inside After Effects.
Now, I'm going to Command+click in order to select the layers over here. Control+click on the PC of course. And then I'm going to go inside Newton once again. Now, because Newton is seeing that these gravity outlines shapes is actually built or consists with couple of inner shapes. So the g is one shape. The r. The a. Et cetera. It will offer you the option to separate them. And this is a good thing.
So, select the word gravity outlines and click on the word separate. This will separate everything into individual groups and now we can create a different simulation for this. Now, with this stage let's just hit play and see what happens. Remember that the simulation that we had before was saved due to the fact that we ask it to Auto Load/Save Settings. Of course you can do it manually using these options. But this means that now we have a completely different simulation.
And, if we like, we can even select couple of the layers here, and continue to finesse with them. For example, if I'm going to select the g letter and then press c on the keyboard it will automatically select all the layers that have the same color tag. And this is a very important shortcut to know, so c for color. There are a couple of other shortcuts, which you can find under the Help menu using the keyboard shortcuts.
I will mention some of them during the presentation over here. But for now, let's just select everything, and change the bounciness. So I'm just going to make them bounce a little bit more. And then let's see the result of this simulation. And just imagine how much time this will take you to create it inside After Effects without using this engine. In this example I'm going to enable motion blur and I'm going to one variant another copy of the same composition.
As you see this is very fast. Now we have Newton intro number three. It's open it up and it's also enable motion blur for the composition and create a ram preview inside After Effects. So as you see we are just scratching the surface here. This is a very, very fun tool to play with, and it creates an amazing results very easily and very quickly. And now that we know the basics, let's create something which is more meaningful.
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