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Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?

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Brien Hopkins
Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Sep 30, 2013 at 6:25:12 pm

Hi Creative Cow,

I've been looking for a good solution to this for awhile. I'm making a whiteboard style animation, with a pen that moves about generating ink, to create the illusion of images and words being drawn on. Trim paths is fast, but there's no positional data to animate my pen with. The Write-On effect works for simple drawings and words, but with a complicated drawing it becomes time intensive to animate brush-size and opacity, so that strokes don't overlap, especially over the course of a 2 minute video.

The only decent method I've managed is to ham-fist CC Particle World into creating my lines, parenting it's producer to my pen's tip. But it's rather tedious. The work flow goes as follows:

1. Copy Illustrator image
2. Paste into After Effects, as a solid with series of masks
3. Copy mask paths, one by one, into the pen's motion path (CC Particle World's producer parented to it).
4. Key frame CC particle world's birthrate on/off, between paths (using a check box expression control).

Is there a better, more efficient way to accomplish this kind of write on effect?

Thank you,
Brien


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Shawn Marshall
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:28:23 pm

We've done a fair amount of this kind of thing with illustrations of various complexity, and we've found the Brush tool with the write-on effect to be sufficient. Using a tablet you can control the thickness of your line with the pen pressure. Even if some bits of artwork that cross each other are accidentally revealed, the animated reveals are usually happening so quickly you don't see those little extraneous bits. It might take you over a minute to trace over some illustration, but then you'd be adjusting the write-on keyframes to have that reveal happen in 5-10 seconds.

I'd try this first to see how it looks on playback before going down the road you've described, which sounds very laborious.

Here's an Intel video we did that uses the write-on technique.

http://hadoop.intel.com/videos/integration-of-sap-hana-idh-how-it-works

In most cases we were able to trace an entire frame of artwork without lifting off the pen, creating just two keyframes for the reveal.

Good luck.

Shawn Marshall
Marshall Arts Motion Graphics


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John Cuevas
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Oct 1, 2013 at 11:08:14 am

Thanks for the video(liked that a lot, nicely done) and the short lesson. As much as I use my Wacom, it never occurred to me to just trace the image.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor
Thinkck.com

"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.


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Matt Callac
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Oct 1, 2013 at 10:22:00 pm

A client wanted us to do a whiteboard video recently, and I stumbled across this method of animating a draw on effect.. I never would have though to do it this way, but this method would give you the tracking point you need to attach your pen/hand to later.






During my research I watched a ton of whiteboard style animations, and very few of them were actually able to pull off the hand/pen drawing them without looking cheesy.

-mattyc


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Brien Hopkins
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Oct 1, 2013 at 1:22:15 pm

Thanks, Shawn. For tracing on your tablet, did you print out the image, then trace over it on your tablet, while recording with motion sketch?

Best,
Brien


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Shawn Marshall
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Oct 2, 2013 at 12:30:17 am

No, I just traced over the layer live in After Effects.

Bring your line drawing artwork into a comp in AE.

Select the Brush Tool.

Double-click on your artwork layer to open it up in its layer window. You can only paint on it in its layer window.

Adjust the diameter of your brush. Set your Brush Dynamics to use the Pen Pressure to adjust the size of the brush. That will let you vary the diameter of the brush. You'll probably want to experiment a bit.

Set the Paint Channels to RGBA and the Duration to Write-on. This latter setting will record whatever you trace.

Trace over your artwork. A keyframe will be set when you start the trace, and a keyframe will be set when you pick up the pen. If possible, trace as much as possible without lifting up your pen.

When done, reveal the keyframes in your timeline. You'll probably want to drag the ending keyframe to the left to dramatically speed up the reveal. If you have multiple starts and stops you'll get separate Brush layers, each with starting and ending keyframes. Stagger those keyframes as necessary to get a full reveal of your artwork.

You'll have to use this painted layer as a track matte for your artwork. You have to select "Paint on Transparent" in the Paint Effects menu. You now have your painted strokes drawing on, generating an alpha channel through which you can track matte your original artwork on the layer below.

Make sense?

All this rigamarole replaces the old Vector Paint effect, which had a somewhat more streamlined approach to doing this sort of thing.

Shawn


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Brien Hopkins
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Oct 2, 2013 at 12:42:46 am

Thanks. Does that technique provide and position data that I could parent my hand-holding-pen to?


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Shawn Marshall
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Oct 2, 2013 at 1:21:40 am

I didn't notice the animated pen part. The Brush tool doesn't appear to create positional data that can be used to drive your pen, but there might be a workaround using motion tracking.

You can set your paint Duration to Single Frame. What you draw will end up as a vector path that lives on a single frame in your timeline. You can stretch out the length of that brush layer, then animate the End keyframe to animate the stroke. So now you have an animated line to reveal your artwork via a track matte.

To track the head of the stroke you need to generate a dot or something that can be easily tracked. What you can do is duplicate the layer with your animated stroke and use a pick-whip expression linking the Start stroke to the End stroke, and then subtract .1. Like this (applied to Start):

effect("Paint").stroke("Brush 2").strokeOption.end-.1

The result is a moving dot at the head of your reveal that you can then motion track.

Shawn


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Brien Hopkins
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Oct 2, 2013 at 1:25:03 am

Ooh. That's clever. Thanks!


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Niall Spollen
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 10:53:16 am

Hi Shawn,

Happy New Year. I have been trying to figure out how to do this and stumbled across this thread. When I clicked on the link in your description it doesn't seem to be working. I have an image and would like to animate it. I was hoping that you could explain the process to me as I would like to show my students how it is done. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, Niall.


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Moloy Dey
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on May 25, 2014 at 5:19:33 pm

Check out this video we did



. If this is what you are trying to achieve I should tell you that there is no short cut to creating a quality whiteboard video animation. However it should not be as complex as you described ;)


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Niall Spollen
Re: Most efficient technique for a whiteboard animation?
on Jan 5, 2015 at 10:45:48 am

Hi ya doing there? Happy new year to ya. You say that the process should not be as complex as described in the thread but you don't offer any process as to how you went about completing the process. Could you please share with us how you went about producing you fine piece of work. I want to try and do a tutorial with my students but would like to fully understand the process first. Thanks in advance and all the best for 2015, Niall.


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