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How to create animation around a silhouette

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Kurt Vandeweerdt
How to create animation around a silhouette
on Dec 8, 2011 at 12:20:52 pm

I want to create animation around this keyed out silhouette:

It will be waving with its hands and stuff.

The animation can contain anything that looks good: lines, blurry waves, etc. Something like this is what would be cool: . At its best it shouldn't only animate around the hands, but also the body as it moves or the silhouette's head.

Is there a good way to do this?

Thanks in advance!


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Dave LaRonde
Re: How to create animation around a silhouette
on Dec 8, 2011 at 3:50:04 pm

How familiar are you with After Effects? If the answer is "not very" or "kinda-sorta", I strongly recommend a visit to this page:

AE has many ways to hose the unsuspecting and uninitiated, and most of them are eliminated by learning the basics. This ain't no application where you look at couple of help entries and find success.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Kevin Camp
Re: How to create animation around a silhouette
on Dec 8, 2011 at 4:03:03 pm

you can fairly easily create the streaks with an effect called particular (from

here are two tutorials that cover that technique:

for your version you will probably want to track the hand of the silhouette. ae's built in tracker should work fine for that, the manual cover tracking fairly well and you can find many tutorials for tracking.

the trickier part will be having the emitter (or particle producer) move in z-space. your track will only be in 2 dimensions (x,y) so the z-position will need to be animated by hand.

to get the particle system to actually move behind the silhouette, there are two methods. particular has a obscuration layer feature which will allow this, but has a few draw backs. and then there is z-clipping which would involve splitting the system onto two (or more) layers and sandwiching the silhouette between them.

that process is outlined here:

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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