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I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space

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Patrick Perkins
I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 17, 2017 at 9:39:31 pm

Long-time listener, first-time caller. I have a question, and I'm hoping I'm just an amateur and there's a simple, obvious answer.

I have a complicated pattern of randomly-interspersed shapes in AI. I want to open it in AE, and then randomly assign slightly different z-spaces to each shape, to give the pattern some depth. I have the expression to randomly assign z-spaces, but AE doesn't seem to want to LET me edit the shape's z-space.

So, here was my process: I saved the pattern as a .ai file. Then, I imported the file into AE. I added it to my comp, and right-clicked on it and chose the option to "Create shapes from vector layers." This converted the file to individual groups of single paths, as expected. Now, at this point, I assume I can just click the "3D layer" button and I'll have a z-space property in my position of each group to add the expression to. But I don't, and I don't know why.

Here's a screenshot of me not having a z property:


Also, just because it's complicated and I wonder if that's having an effect on the project, here's a screenshot of the pattern.


Please tell me what I'm doing wrong. It's sorta a difficult question to google. Please help! Thank you ☺


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Mark Whitney
Re: I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 18, 2017 at 12:57:37 am

Ummm, Yup, only seeing X and Y values listed under both Anchor & Position. Have you enabled the 3D toggle for the layer? Betchya haven't. Probably hiding.

With the comp selected, try hitting the F4 key. Toggle the 3D box on. Now see if your expression becomes happy.


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Walter Soyka
Re: I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 18, 2017 at 1:19:55 pm

Those are controls for a group within the shape layer. These are separate from the layer's own intrinsic transform controls. Select your layer, tap the P key, and the layer's Position property will be revealed.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Cassius Marques
Re: I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 18, 2017 at 2:33:50 pm

I'm pretty sure you won't have access to the z axis within the transform properties of a shape layer's group. Shape layers are two dimensional. You would have to overcomplicate things and explode every group to a single layer in order to use the layer's 3d options. (there's a script that automate that but as you have too many groups it would just become cumbersome to the engine).

The way I see it, you're approaching this the wrong way. You should have ONE of each shape (three layers?) and just feed that to a decent particle plugin. It's quick, clean and a way faster option to position and animate a 3d grid pattern.

Cassius Marques
http://www.zapfilmes.com


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Patrick Perkins
Re: I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 18, 2017 at 4:14:33 pm

Yeah, I think you might be right. I'm trying to avoid buying Trapcode Particular. Could you suggest an alternate particle generator that can do custom particle shapes like this?

In the meantime, I'll experiment with exploding the groups to layers. Thank you!


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Cassius Marques
Re: I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 18, 2017 at 5:50:28 pm

I guess the only robust ones would be TC's particular and Superluminal's Stardust. Both come with a price. Stardust is newer, has a lot of improvements over particular and I think its cheaper.

Cassius Marques
http://www.zapfilmes.com


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Mark Whitney
Re: I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 18, 2017 at 5:36:59 pm

Ah, yes you are correct.

You'd have to use something like the zl_ExplodeShapeLayers script by Zack Lovatt (http://zacklovatt.com) which might be daunting in this case.


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Patrick Perkins
Re: I opened a .ai file, but can't edit the z space
on Jul 18, 2017 at 5:46:38 pm

Yeah, it would have to have like 800 layers. It basically crashes when I try. I'm going to play with trapcode for now.

Thanks Mark, Cassius, and Walter!


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