Join Ian Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video Putting it all together, part of After Effects Guru: Keyframe Assistants.
- This is going to be a fun exercise. In this video, we're gonna go ahead and create a sequence of animated elements. But we're then gonna take that sequence of animated elements and use it as a source for a particle emitter, using a plugin from Red Giant called Particular. Now, if you don't have any of the Red Giant plugins, by all means, go to the Red Giant website and you can download any of the plugins as a trial, to give things a go.
So, let's get started by importing a Photoshop document. So here in my Project panel, I'll just double-click and navigate to my Sources, and I'll select this Icons_AE PSD file. I wanna import it as a Composition - Retain Layer Sizes, and I'll click Open. In here, I'll make sure to go ahead and click OK. And if I double-click on my icons here, you'll see it's a 33 and one second duration composition, which is fine. I just wanna create a short sequence of this animation.
So here, I'm gonna go ahead and click in my timeline, and I want each of these icons to appear for one second. So I'll just go to one second in the timeline, and I'll press option ]. Now, since I only had one layer selected, it trimmed the duration of one layer. So here, I'll draw a lasso around all four layers and press option ]. And now they're all trimmed to one second a piece. Since I had Layer 1 selected first, through Layer 4, it's going to sequence these layers starting with Layer 1.
So here I'm gonna go up under Animation, go to my Keyframe Assistant, and since all the layers are selected, I can choose Sequence Layers. I don't want there to be any overlap, so I'll just go ahead and click OK. Now, this is only four seconds out of the 33 second composition. You might be thinking, "Well, that's not long enough. "I need to duplicate this and drag it out," which is something we've done earlier in this course. But really, an easy way to deal with this, if I'm not gonna make these icons any larger in any of my projects, I can go ahead and pre-render this sequence.
So I'm gonna press o on my keyboard, and, since I have all the layers selected, it's not quite doing what I want. So here, I'll deselect all the layers, select Layer 4, and press o, and I'll press n on the keyboard to trim my duration in my work area, right-click and choose Trim Comp to Work Area. Now I'll just go ahead and pre-render this. So, with my Icons_AE timeline selected, I'll go to Composition and choose Add to Render Queue.
In the Render Queue here, I'm gonna click on the pull-down for my Output Module and choose Lossless with Alpha. Now I'll click on the words Lossless with Alpha, and up here, in the top under Main Options, I have an option for Post-Render Action. I can choose Import. So I'll go ahead and click OK. And let's choose where we're gonna output this to. Let's click on the name Output_AE.mov. And I wanna make sure to output this to my Exercise Files folder in the Sources area.
Now, you probably already see this here. I'm gonna go ahead and call this Icons_PreRender. So you can resave over the MOV file, if you like, or you don't necessarily have to. I'm just gonna go ahead and click Save. And when I click Render, it'll take a second to spool everything up. But once it renders everything, it's automatically going to import things back into the Project panel. So, through the magic of post production, I'll join you here in just a quick second.
All right. Music to my ears. I have my video file, and it's 502 pixels by 502 pixels. That's actually kind of large. But that's okay. What I want is, I want this MOV to be endless. So here, let's go to a Composition, and I'll create a new comp, and I'll go to the Presets. Let's choose this HDV/HDTV 720 29.97. Let's choose a duration of 30 seconds, 3000, and just click OK.
So, now if I drag my video file in here, you notice it's only a couple seconds long. Well, if I want this to repeat, I can just go ahead and right-click or control click on the video file here in the Project panel and go to Interpret Footage, and under Main, I can go ahead and tell it to loop multiple times. So here, I want it to loop, let's say, 40 times, and I'll just press return to set that. And now, since it's looping 40 times, I can just extend the duration and it's just never really gonna end.
So that's one way of extending your animation relatively quickly. Now, I wanna use this as the source for a particle emitter. What I'll do now is, actually scale this composition down and scale this element down, because particle emitters should be relatively small, say, a hundred pixels by a hundred pixels, at most. Usually they're, like, 10 pixels by 10 pixels or something, but we'll make this a large small one.
Okay? So here, in my composition, I'll go to Composition Settings. And let's name this Source. And under the size here, let's choose 100, and I'll press tab and choose 100. You wanna make sure Locked Aspect Ratio is not selected. That way, it just goes ahead and changes the size to a square. And when I click OK, you can see my icons are way too large. Let's make sure my magnification is set to 100 here in my Comp panel.
And I can just go ahead and scale this down. So let's scale it down there. There we go. Okay. Now if I scrub, you can see there is my source. And it's pretty good to go. So, I'm gonna create one more composition. Here, I'll go to Composition, New Composition, and let's call this Output_Build. And under the Presets, I'll choose HDV/HDTV 720 29.97. We can choose a duration of 30 seconds and just click OK.
And so here, I wanna go ahead and create my particle emitter. So I'm gonna go up under Layer, choose New, Solid, and I'll make sure that my Solid is my comp size. And instead of choosing this bright red here, I'll just go ahead and click on that Solid Color, and I'll choose kind of a gray color. Can choose any gray value. Mine's at 64%. So when I click OK, now I can see it's a gray solid. So now I'll go up under Effects, and scroll down to the Trapcode plugins.
Even though it's a Red Giant plugin, it's called Trapcode. And here I'll choose Particular. So with Particular set, I can go to my Particle settings. And in here, under Particle Type, I'm gonna click on the pull-down and I wanna choose Textured Polygon. So when I choose Textured Polygon here, I could go to my Texture options. And on here, I can choose a layer. Well, I need to actually have a layer in my comp to choose.
So let's go back to our Project panel here, and I'll drag my Source pre-comp down into my timeline. See, I'm dragging my Source because it's only a hundred pixels by a hundred pixels. Okay. So let's go back to our Output_Build and select Layer 1. Now if we go back to our effect controls here, under the Layer, I wanna choose the Source as my source here. And for time sampling, I can have it set up as the Current Time, or I could have it start at the birth of the particle and play once, or I could have it start at the birth and loop.
So let's go ahead and say, start at the birth of the particle and loop. And now when I scrub here, you can see I've got all these little particles playing, and I have this background Source layer. So I can turn the visibility of my Source layer off and I can still see all these particles. If I want my particles to be larger, I can just increase the size. So here, I'll crank up the size here. Now you can actually see these particles are larger. I can randomize the size of the particles here a little bit. And, rather than having them all start at birth and loop, so they're actually, you know, playing in sequence together, what I wanna do is, have it be more random.
So here, I'll click on the pull-down and I'll just say Random - Loop. So now when I scrub through, all of these different icons are popping out at random times, playing back, and looping at slightly different durations. So of course, I could continue tweaking this particle emitter. But I wanted you to see how extremely powerful it can be when you actually start building on your pre-compositions. And all of this was made possible just by sequentially adjusting the appearance of the different layers using our Keyframe Assistant.
- Controlling the speed and appearance of multiple layers with sequence layers
- Building audio-driven animation
- Integrating expressions and keyframes
- Creating random animation with the Wiggler
- Smoothing keyframe animation with ease adjustments
- Increasing productivity with Layer Monkey, MotionMonkey, and Ease and Wizz