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Precision Problem with Illustrator Layers in AfterEffects

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Jason McCaffrey
Precision Problem with Illustrator Layers in AfterEffects
on Feb 14, 2017 at 4:15:49 pm

I'm working on ~50 videos that animate in exactly the same way, but with different data points that create the chart being animated. These are dyno videos for a bunch of engines that shows their various torque and horsepower rating. These need to be precise in order to be distributed publicly legally. A designer created these for me in Illustrator and created the first AE file to get the animation timing right. I then created copies of that first AE file and relinked the layers to the subsequent engines' appropriate Illustrator layers and readjusted the masks to line up with where the layers shifted to per engine.

Once I finished all of them, we realize that the charts aren't rendering identically to how they appear in the Illustrator files. It's off by a handful of pixels, which changes the numbers we're trying to convey in the charts significantly. In the AE file either the background grid shifted upwards or the dots shifted downward by about 5 pixels.

JPG exported from the Illustrator file (with the correct alignment):

Video end frame (off by a handful of pixels):

This same degree of variance is present in every single AE file. Is this a known issue with AE/Illustrator cross-talk? Is there anything I can do to easily fix these or do I have to tediously go through each AE file and finesse the background grid back in place?

Thanks in advance for any help!


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Precision Problem with Illustrator Layers in AfterEffects
on Feb 14, 2017 at 8:06:31 pm
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Feb 14, 2017 at 8:06:53 pm

Are you working in square pixels? Failing to do so could throw it off...

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Jason McCaffrey
Re: Precision Problem with Illustrator Layers in AfterEffects
on Feb 17, 2017 at 9:01:22 pm

Thanks for the response. It is set to square pixels. Is it possible a different pixel aspect ratio may work?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Precision Problem with Illustrator Layers in AfterEffects
on Feb 17, 2017 at 9:16:41 pm

Something's throwing off your final result, and the most likely culprit is pixel aspect ratio. I'd scrutinize the entire workflow to ensure it's square pixels (pixel aspect ratio of 1:1) all the way. They're best.

I'd also check the settings on your Illustrator artboard. It too could be causing grief.

And does it make a difference is you just drag the imported Ilustrator file directly onto the Make Comp icon at the bottom of the AE project window?

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Jason McCaffrey
Re: Precision Problem with Illustrator Layers in AfterEffects
on Feb 22, 2017 at 4:47:54 pm

Hi Dave,

I appreciate your speedy responses. Sorry for my slow responses back.

I can't find where I would set the pixel aspect ratio in Illustrator (sorry, Illustrator is not my forte. Someone else created these files initially). The artboard settings do have some weird dimensions. Width 1000, Height 400.95; X 500, Y 159.19. I wonder if those pixels in the hundredths might be the culprit.

And yes, it does make a difference if I drag the illustrator file onto the make comp icon. That seems to create an accurate replica of the original. I just asked the designer how she initially created the comp and she said that she selected New Composition from the menu, then dragged the layers into the comp one by one.

I found that if I move the graph and number layers up 3 pixels we get back to an accurate replica of the original files. Unfortunately I think it will be easier for me to adjust all of these files that 3 pixel shift than to go back through and create a new comp from the original illustrator file and create the animation again. Regardless, I would be curious to know if you know why creating the comp from the icon behaves differently than pulling the layers in one by one.

Thanks again for the help! You're a gentleman and a scholar!


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Precision Problem with Illustrator Layers in AfterEffects
on Feb 22, 2017 at 6:49:37 pm

Creating the comp by dragging the Illustrator file to the button makes a new composition that matches the artwork. If you create a new composition and then start dropping Illustrator files in, why, it could have almost ANY specification. Dimensions, pixel aspect ratios, and all kinds of things could be different.

Glad you found an easy solution though. :)

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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