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undream

Animated Lines and Triangles

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Hi there.

 

Many of us know the amasing OFFF main titles.

http://www.vimeo.com/4673875

 

my question is that, how to achieve these animated "data lines" (with dots) and vectoral triangles in the shortest way possible ?

 

I have an upcoming project where I need similar effects, and all I can do is to track and add lines one by one, I even could not be able to solve how to add triangles, etc.

 

Here are some references, within that movie (as time)

00:33 (lines example)

00:53 (lines example)

02:06 (triangles example)

03:01 (triangles example)

 

I tried to achieve similar results with after effects shapes, and trackers, but it is even impossible to connect the shape corner points to the tracking data.

 

Thought there has to be some other way to create this trendy effect.

 

Thanks !

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Yes i did. It takes lng to add all the data one by one like that, and its even impossible to create triangles with that effect ?

Correct me if Im wrong.

It should be working. Make 3 instances of the beam-effect, connect the Starting and Ending Points to their relative Tracker points and make sure to check Composite on Original.

Beam1(Tracker1-Tracker2), Beam2 ( Tracker2- Tracker3), Beam3 (Tracker3-Tracker1) = triangle

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I would start off by visiting Graymachine's toComp or Motionscript tutorials if you haven't yet.

 

Track the object that you want the lines to be connected to and create a Null object that you can apply the tracking data to. Then use the toComp expression on the end of the Beam effect. Repeat this again for the other end of the beam effect. To add some random motion to the points (like seen in the OFFF titles) simply add a wiggle or random expression to the position, but by watching that video I'm guessing they hand keyframed some of the randomness look. You could just parent the tracked Null to another null and keyframe as necessary.

 

Then you could add little dots and triangles at the ends of the lines using a shape layer - make sure the anchor point is in the center of the layer - then use a simple pick-whip expression OR parenting to tie the position of the layer to the Null Object.

 

To create the triangles like seen in the 3rd and 4th examples you listed. You could create a solid and apply the corner pin effect, again using the toComp expression on the end points. Corner pin uses 4 points, so just make two of them the same to make a triangle (..duh!). Then add some masking or alpha mattes or pre-comp and scale to add some of the 'growing' effects like seen in the example.

 

To give everything a cool 3D feel to the lines and triangles, while still matching the 2D track space, I would take a look at PSDto3D Script and offset the Nulls in 3D space as necessary.

 

Hope this all works for ya, I don't have acces to AE to test all of this stuff at the moment.

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I'm working on a similar project with between 100 - 300 beams all being linked to data flowing around on-screen. We needed the Starting Point and Ending Point of the beams to follow separate, free-moving layers. We also needed the beams to fake 3D perspective by linking the Starting Thickness and Ending Thickness to the Z-Depth of the layer it's parented to. Obviously we needed expressions to do all this. Here's what I came up with:

 

- Each Beam consists of 3 layers to maintain the most control: The solid with Beam effect applied, a Null for Starting Point (StartNull), and a Null for Ending Point (EndNull).

 

Expressions needed in the Beam effect are as follows:

 

Starting Point:

a=thisComp.layer("Startnull");

a.toComp(a.anchorPoint)

^ links Starting Point of Beam to Startnull Layer.

 

Ending Point:

a=thisComp.layer("Endnull");

a.toComp(a.anchorPoint)

^ links Ending Point of Beam to Endnull Layer.

 

Starting Thickness:

zdepth1=(effect("Beam")("Starting Thickness")) - ((thisComp.layer("Startnull").transform.position[2])/50)

position=[zdepth1]

^ links Starting Thickness of Beam to the Z-position of the Startnull. The "/50" part is just to dampen the effect. Changing this number will cause the beam thickness to become more/less affected by the Startnull Z-position.

 

Ending Thickness:

zdepth1=((effect("Beam")("Ending Thickness")) - (thisComp.layer("Endnull").transform.position[2])/50)

position=[zdepth1]

^ This works the same as the Starting Thickness expression.

 

 

 

Keep in mind you need to change where it says "Startnull" and "Endnull" to match whatever layer you'd like your beam to follow. The benefit of using nulls to control the beam is that they can then simply be parented to other layers you'd like them to follow. Feel free to ask me any questions if this doesn't make sense, I haven't had much coffee yet.

 

(Should also note I'm no expression master, so some of this may be redundant/unnecessary. It works for me though)

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are you using a camera in the comp you're referring to beau? Im wondering if the zdepth expression works in conjunction with a camera or not. well done, btw.

 

Yup. Works as expected with a cam as long as the Nulls are set to be 3D layers. The solid the Beam effect is applied to has to be a 2D layer however.

 

I forgot to go into detail into how you'd do more complex set-ups like triangles etc. You'd have to set up 3 Nulls in place as the points of your triangle, then you'd set up 3 beams linking the ends like this: (Null 1 -> Null 2, Null 2 -> Null 3, Null 3 -> Null 1). Using Nulls as multiple "points" of the shape allows you to create other complex shapes like brackets, cubes etc.

 

One thing I haven't tried but I'm sure would work: Place a few nulls around a sphere in C4D, then save out an .aec. Attach some beams across all the nulls and you'd get some cool pseudo-3D shapes that you can mess around with inside After Effects.

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I was messing around a couple of weeks ago using greymachine's math.sin expression with the toComp to make a line skeleton of a bird flying, time consuming but the results were pretty cool. Add in the zdepth stuff and I bet it would really look slick.

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Good replies, still way too complicated for some simple results I'm after.

I thought ther could be some kind of a "generate" plugin to create a triangle, so that we can simple connect the "points" to the trackers, and edit the outline strenght, etc.

 

Also I had this issue about outlining, before, too. Just like the outlines of the shape layers, is it possible to add outline to any layer ?

 

So that I can simply connect a square into 3 trackers (as mentioned), make it invisible, then give some kind of an outline to it so theat we se only the "lines" that are generated. far more simple than adding each "beam" one by one.

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Good replies, still way too complicated for some simple results I'm after.

I thought ther could be some kind of a "generate" plugin to create a triangle, so that we can simple connect the "points" to the trackers, and edit the outline strenght, etc.

 

Also I had this issue about outlining, before, too. Just like the outlines of the shape layers, is it possible to add outline to any layer ?

 

So that I can simply connect a square into 3 trackers (as mentioned), make it invisible, then give some kind of an outline to it so theat we se only the "lines" that are generated. far more simple than adding each "beam" one by one.

 

If you simply want a square outline, make it in Illustrator and bring it in as a vector. That's a lot easier than creating the outline within After Effects. Though, if you really do need to generate an outline for all frames of a layer, look into Auto-Trace in After Effects. Judging by your replies this will probably still be too much work though. As for "simply connect a square into 3 trackers", layers in After Effects can only have one anchor point, so what you're asking for is impossible without getting into some really complicated expressions - Expressions that will be far more complicated than the ones I've already provided.

 

The video you posted as reference likely took LOTS of work, lots of time, and lots of expertise. I guarantee they didn't use a "generate" plugin. These guys took the time to either lay out the beams, or do it in 3D. Honestly, just use the beams dude. I know it seems like it'll take a long time, but once you get into the flow of duplicating/renaming/rearranging nulls etc. it goes pretty quick. I've set up hundreds of beams doing some pretty complex stuff in a matter of a few hours. CTRL + D is your friend.

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One thing I've done with this is make generic start and end expressions for the beams. Like:

 

thisComp.layer(index-1).toComp([0,0,0])

 

and

 

thisComp.layer(index-2).toComp([0,0,0])

 

 

This way you can duplicate the beam layer and related nulls. Place the two nulls immediately about the beam layer and you've got an automatic start and end. This is particularly helpful if the end of one null needs to start the next.

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One thing I've done with this is make generic start and end expressions for the beams. Like:

 

thisComp.layer(index-1).toComp([0,0,0])

 

and

 

thisComp.layer(index-2).toComp([0,0,0])

 

 

This way you can duplicate the beam layer and related nulls. Place the two nulls immediately about the beam layer and you've got an automatic start and end. This is particularly helpful if the end of one null needs to start the next.

 

Wow, that's awesome. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks Harry, you just saved me tons of work!

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Good replies, still way too complicated for some simple results I'm after.

I thought ther could be some kind of a "generate" plugin to create a triangle, so that we can simple connect the "points" to the trackers, and edit the outline strenght, etc.

 

Also I had this issue about outlining, before, too. Just like the outlines of the shape layers, is it possible to add outline to any layer ?

 

So that I can simply connect a square into 3 trackers (as mentioned), make it invisible, then give some kind of an outline to it so theat we se only the "lines" that are generated. far more simple than adding each "beam" one by one.

 

Maybe I am missing something but why not just use a masks on adjustment layers to create your shapes and then use the vegas effect to stroke the mask with a dotted line? If you are after a simple way to get a similar effect wouldn't that do the trick?

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Maybe I am missing something but why not just use a masks on adjustment layers to create your shapes and then use the vegas effect to stroke the mask with a dotted liI also have to search about the "vegas efect" (?) you meant.

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undream, the effect is called "vegas". It is just an easy way to stroke a mask with a dotted line.

 

That toComp is amazing!!!! I think I'm going to be using that expression a lot from now on.

 

My suggestion was to maybe see if you could use toComp to effect the vertices of a triangular mask so you don't have to deal with three beams for every triangle. If to comp can't work with the vertices of a mask you can use corner pin or some other kind of distortion to fake it (rereading my earlier post I realize it was pretty unclear, doh).

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undream, the effect is called "vegas". It is just an easy way to stroke a mask with a dotted line.

 

That toComp is amazing!!!! I think I'm going to be using that expression a lot from now on.

 

My suggestion was to maybe see if you could use toComp to effect the vertices of a triangular mask so you don't have to deal with three beams for every triangle. If to comp can't work with the vertices of a mask you can use corner pin or some other kind of distortion to fake it (rereading my earlier post I realize it was pretty unclear, doh).

 

Right now I dont have AE on this mac but well I'll try the cornet pin + vegas combination as soon a possible !

 

Also, yes, toComp is a new era for me, too !

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....well done, btw.

 

I forgot to give credit where credit is due - I really didn't come up with much (if any) of this on my own. I forget where exactly I got the expressions to cobble this together, but they most likely came from either Graymachine or Dan Ebberts' MotionScript.

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One thing I've done with this is make generic start and end expressions for the beams. Like:

 

thisComp.layer(index-1).toComp([0,0,0])

 

and

 

thisComp.layer(index-2).toComp([0,0,0])

 

 

This way you can duplicate the beam layer and related nulls. Place the two nulls immediately about the beam layer and you've got an automatic start and end. This is particularly helpful if the end of one null needs to start the next.

 

Hi,

I've been working with the animated lines with beam. I was already using some expressions myself. but i have to connect a bunch of lines to each other, so what you are saying might work, but i just don`t get it how to use it. How will it work if i just duplicate the layers? Ive done some tests but it didnt work. Should i just past this expressions on the Start and End? I`ve done it and it didnt work. I`m missing something here...

Thanks a lot.

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