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re-Timing an animation path

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Dennis Dean
re-Timing an animation path
on Jun 14, 2009 at 1:31:07 pm

Hi! I'm new to Motion - and have created a promising effect for a client using a hand drawn animation path on the canvas. My objective is to have a sparkle-like particle effect trace itself around an outline - in this case the outline of my client's company name. But hitting the record button and tracing by hand isn't very accurate and certainly not smooth in terms of speed.

Here's my question; Is it possible to draw a path just as I would in Photoshop or Illustrator - using a pen tool - then use other controls somewhere in Motion to assign the particle effect to the path, and control the duration of the travel?

Seems so simple a concept I think I must be missing it in the manual. I've read about thinning keyframes but not sure that's the entire answer.) Any thoughts - appreciated. (My son thinks I should use a real sparkler outside at night and trace the letters by hand - not the worst idea I've heard!)


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Jim Johnson
Re: re-Timing an animation path
on Jun 15, 2009 at 3:21:08 am


Excellent question! Accomplishing this is pretty easy with the Motion Path behavior. This applies, by the way, to any positional-animation scenario, not just your particle emitter. In brief: you draw a shape (in Motion) that will indicate your animation path, you apply the Motion Path behavior to your emitter, and you tell the behavior to use the shape for the animation. So...

1. Use the shape tool (B) to draw your desired animation path (bezier, b-splines, whatever).
2. Apply the Motion Path behavior to your emitter.
3. With the Motion Path behavior selected, go to the Inspector and view the Behaviors tab. Set the Path Shape popup to 'Geometry'.
4. Drag-and-drop the shape you drew in Step 1 into the Shape Source image-well that is now visible in the Inspector (or you can pick any shape object in the project from the little 'To' popup menu that is next to the image-well).

Now your emitter will move along the shape's path over the duration of the behavior. Want to change the path? Go ahead and edit the shape. Want it to be faster or slower? Change the behavior's duration. You can also change the behavior's Speed popup to get Ease In/Out, and such. No keyframes required.

Bonus Round
This last bit is a power-user tip of the sort that we used to pay Brian Maffitt $600 for on the Total Training AE tapes: the 'Custom' option in the Motion Path behavior's Speed popup menu. When you pick 'Custom', a new Custom Speed parameter is revealed, which goes from 0-100% and has two default keyframes on it, at the beginning and end of the behavior. Think of this as the "completion" value of the behavior on any given frame. So the default is that it animates from 0 to 100% over the behavior's duration, but you can view this curve in the Keyframe Editor, giving you sick control over the animation's progress, including stuff like reversals, etc. So if you want the behavior to cruise along for 60 frames and then hold for a bit, then reverse its progress, then surge ahead, you can keyframe that with one simple speed curve. Then you tell your client how you had to move the Earth and the Moon to do it all in so little time :)

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Dennis Dean
Re: re-Timing an animation path
on Jun 15, 2009 at 11:21:24 am

Jim - Thanks very much. EXCELLENT answer - on my way to the edit suite with this...

Dennis Dean
The Dean Group
-It's about results-

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Susan Davis
Re: re-Timing an animation path
on Jun 20, 2009 at 5:59:43 am


I have a question that is similar but different lol

What I mean is, I dont seem to know the proper terms to use to ask the question.

(I am using Motion 3.)

I will try here because I think its kind of similar....

The subject in my video is tracing a rectangle in the air with his finger, I am trying to make it actually look like he painted a rectangle in mid air.

I was able to use match move to make some sparkling thing follow his finger but I need it to also leave a rectangle in the outline of were his finger traced it (in the air)(draw a box in mid air)

Any and all help is greatly appreciated

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Jason Diebler
Re: re-Timing an animation path
on Jun 25, 2009 at 7:49:23 pm

Draw a rectangle with the rectangular shape tool. Go to your Shape contextual tab (F4). Keyframe adjust either the First Point or Last Point Offset. If you drag the slider you'll see the effect you're going for...

"The deepest blues are black" - Foo Fighters
(this doesn't help me when I'm chroma keying!)

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