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How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE

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Dee Munsch
How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE
on May 26, 2011 at 12:56:03 am

Has anyone seen those cool "Flash Navigation Text balls" (that's what I'm calling them) on various graphic design sites?
You can check it out here:

http://www.roytanck.com/2008/03/06/wordpress-plugin-wp-cumulus-flash-based-...

I realize this is a Word Press/Flash thing...but how would you go about building that in AE? (I don't mean the ability to choose a word and have it take you somewhere. Just the rotation around an anchor point.) There must be some fancy expression or script, eh?
Thanks!


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Kevin Camp
Re: How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE
on May 26, 2011 at 3:39:30 pm

you could use an expression or script to position the layers, but the manipulation is pretty easy...

  1. create several text layers and set them to be 3d.
  2. then create a null, make it 3d and parent the text layers to the null.
  3. arrange them around the null randomly in 3d space.
  4. then add a camera and select the text layers and set them to auto orient to the camera (layer>transform>auto orient).
  5. rotate the null.

obviously it would be nice to have an expression to position the text layers randomly around the null in a sphere like manner, but it's not entirely necessary.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Dee Munsch
Re: How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE
on May 26, 2011 at 3:57:35 pm

Thanks for the quick response!
I did get as far as creating the layers, having them share an anchor point in "the middle" and distributing them around that.
Unfortunately, the Auto-Orient towards camera doesn't seem to do anything. Is there another way to keep the text always facing forward? You would think that "orient towards camera" would be the easy answer, I'm not sure why it doesn't work. (I haven't been working with nulls, maybe I'll try that).
-D


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Kevin Camp
Re: How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE
on May 26, 2011 at 4:13:07 pm

for 'auto orient to camera' to work you need a camera in the comp, the layers that need to auto orient need to be 3d and you can't modify the rotation & orientation properties of those layers (they should be set to zero).

try making a new comp using the steps before so you can see how it works.

also, here's an expression to randomly position the text layers in a spherical manner:

r = 150; //radius of sphere in pixels
seedRandom(index,true);
theta = random(0,Math.PI*2);
phi = random(0,Math.PI);
x = r*Math.cos(theta)*Math.sin(phi);
y = r*Math.sin(theta)*Math.sin(phi);
z = r*Math.cos(phi);
[x,y,z]

the position is calculated around the layer's current position, so parent it to a null first, then set the position value of the layer to 0,0,0 (this will be the position relative to the null, so the null will be the center). then paste the expression into the position expression field, you can set the radius (the 'r' value) as needed.

you can then either duplicate that text layer out and change the text for each layer, or you can do the same parenting/expression procedure for each text layer.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Dee Munsch
Re: How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE
on May 27, 2011 at 12:14:11 am

Yowza!
That is a lot of good information.
I'll try it out. Thank you so much.
-D


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Dee Munsch
Re: How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE
on May 27, 2011 at 4:34:24 am

One quick question. I plugged in the expression into the Position (of 3D text layer) and it gave me an error:
"No matching closing brace found. Expression disabled. Error occurred at line 1."
My Position/Rotation/Orientation coordinates are all at 0,0,0.

Yer a peach!


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Kevin Camp
Re: How to recreate WP-Cumulus in AE
on May 27, 2011 at 2:45:14 pm

i just double checked it and it worked fine (sometimes expression get copy/pasted wrong)...

double check that the expression you copy/pasted is correct. it sounds like maybe there was an inadvertent brace on line 1, it probably looks like this {

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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