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How can I create an animation of a fim strip unwinding ?

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Yonatan Lehman
How can I create an animation of a fim strip unwinding ?
on Dec 28, 2015 at 9:56:40 pm

I'm new to AE and new to this forum.
I have spent ages to create this effect, I did it in the end, but I'm wondering if it could have been done easier and faster.
The idea is to have an animation of a "film strip" unrolling itself and making the shape of the hebrew letter "lamed"

See the first ten seconds of


I'm using AE 7.0 - I think that later versions of AE make what I want to do easier - but my question is how to do this most efficiently with AE 7.0

What I did was:
1) took a picture of a real film strip in the shape and angle I wanted to get a "3D" effect
2) imported the image into AE to use as a guide
3) create a layer (L1) and draw a mask (and associated fill and stroke) of the first frame in the film strip
4) Add keyframes every 2 frames - each time moving the edges of the mask to coorespond to the next frame in the film strip

So what I have till now is a single frame that travels along the path of the film strip, changing it's shape as it goes along.

Now I wanted to show the film strip unwinding (NOT just reveal a static image)

The idea was that I could duplicate L1 49 times, with all the keyframes of L(i) being two frames after the associated keyframe in layer L(i-1).

L4 : < K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 ...K46>
L3 : < K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 ....K47>
L2 : < K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 .......K48>
L1 : < K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 ........ K49>

I thought I could do this using an expression that defines the shape of the mask on one layer as a function of the shape of a previoud layer as a function of time. The problem was that AE 7.0 does not allow the mask shape to be animated with an expression.

What I did was
1) duplicate L1 to L2
2) shifted the timeline of L2 two frames forward on the timeline
3) remove the last key frame of L2 and set it to "hold"

Repeat the above for L2 to L3 and so on

is there a better way to achieve the effect I wanted with AE 7.0 ?
Or perhaps some way of doing all this work faster (for example using the keyboard instead of the mouse)

If you're still here at this point - thanks for bearing with me !
i hope someone will be able to enlighten me


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Kalle Kannisto
Re: How can I create an animation of a fim strip unwinding ?
on Dec 29, 2015 at 1:24:14 pm

My initial instinct says to use a long precomp of a straight moving film strip and warp it into shape using a mesh warp. Probably better ways exist.

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