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Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers

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Adam Neer
Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Apr 16, 2014 at 12:35:40 am

Hello, this is a behavior I have been perplexed and annoyed with ever since i started working with vectors and shapes in AE.

For some reason, and with no obvious pattern in workflow, AE will create an unneeded group with a rectangular path set to the comp bounds, as well as apply a merge paths on top of the original path created when using the "create shapes from vector layer" command. It usually does not mess with the vector/shape's appearance (though sometimes it does) but causes quite a lot of annoyance when creating shapes from vector layers that contain a lot of elements. I would just leave these unnecessary groups in, but I feel like it decreases efficiency with complex animations, and it obscures the playback when layer controls are visible, since you can see several rectangular outlines that have nothing to do with the actual shape.

I've tried to pinpoint what it is in the vector file's layer and group hierarchy that may be the cause of this, but have come up with nothing. I should note that this does not happen every time i use the command, but is certainly something that occurs a majority of the time. Here are some of the things I've tried in hopes of decreasing the chance of it happening:

In Illustrator, I've tried various configurations of grouping/ungrouping such that each individual layer has either:
-NO groups
-ONE group for all paths in the layer
-LOGICAL groups that are pertinent to the normal workflow

The only thing I have been able to discover in setting up my AI files is that any negative (reflected) transforms done in AI need to be "Merged" using the pathfinder, or else the corresponding shape in AE will have a reversed vertex order, making morphing between paths very difficult.

But beyond that, I can't for the life of me figure out what triggers AE's behavior and so far its the only thing I haven't been able to discover on my own through Google or trial and error.


Various info that may be helpful:
-AI files have only 1 art board set to my 1920x1080 comp size
-all artwork is generally within the comp bounds, except for my background layer which is almost always extended a bit beyond (this one usually translates just fine in AE though)
-upon initially importing the files, I have experimented with both maintaining original dimensions and not, and neither seems to cause a noticeably different behavior


Anyone?


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Marissa Joyner
Re: Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Apr 20, 2014 at 8:17:03 pm
Last Edited By Marissa Joyner on Apr 21, 2014 at 12:07:08 am

**updating my post because I found a solution


Save your Illustrator file as .eps version CS5. I don't know exactly why but fixed the unnecessary paths issue.

Hope it works for you!
******************************




The exact same thing is happening to me too. I'm pretty sure it's a bug because this operation was working fine just a few weeks ago. Now I have 2 big projects that are nothing but AI files that I need to convert to shape layers and I'm going insane! I have actually been twirling twirling twirling down to delete the unnecesary groups inside each group that's inside each shape layer.

I just submitted a bug report, I suggest you do the same:
https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/mmform/index.cfm?name=wishform


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Adam Neer
Re: Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Apr 22, 2014 at 9:41:07 pm

thanks, i'll definitely try that out. honestly, i never thought it was a bug because it has happened on every project I've ever worked on that involved converting AI files. i figured surely there are enough animators out there utilizing this sort of workflow that there had to be a more logical explanation for it. sort of like how you'd think there was a rendering bug if you didn't understand the layer order hierarchy for 3D layers, shadows, track mattes, masks, the puppet tool, etc...


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Adam Neer
Re: Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:50:20 pm

Well, I tried your solution and unfortunately it is not an option for me. I'm guessing the reason it worked for you is because saving in that format makes AE merge all of the Illustrator layers into one AE layer, which can still be converted using the menu command, but will put all of the paths into one shape layer. My workflow relies on well organized and meticulously separated layers, which in terms of individual paths, can be as much as 100 in a single comp. Since AE doesn't have any way to preview paths or groups in a shape layer, and since they are generically named "Group 1, Path 1" etc. upon conversion to shape layers, I need that organization to keep my sanity when finding individual elements. One feature I would absolutely love to be added to upcoming releases would be for AE to honor group names from Ai files. I would imagine this would be relatively easy to implement, considering it is able to recognize basically every other part of the file.

Long story short, I'm still looking for an answer to this annoying issue, but thanks for your suggestion.


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Elias Aviles
Re: Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Aug 11, 2014 at 11:00:54 pm

Hi, here's a solution that worked for me. I've been having this same problem as you and I find it annoying because it doesn't let you animate your shapes in their own area.
The solution I found, is to have every element expanded, do not use strokes, transparency or blending modes in any object, be sure to have everything in a flat way. I tried many many things before to figure out what was happening but in the end I came out with this solution which just worked for me a couple of days ago. The other way to do it is by deleting that "Group 1" that AE creates but that wouldn't be an option if you haven many shapes.
Anyway, I hope this works for you as well, good luck!


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Cassius Marques
Re: Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Jan 14, 2015 at 6:14:49 pm

I know this is a somewhat old thread but if you ever find a solution please come tell...I'm stumbling into this now and its such an annoying and unexpected behaviour. I don't remember getting this while creating shapes from previously saved versions of illustrator.


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Adam Neer
Re: Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Jan 15, 2015 at 2:33:42 pm

Actually, as one of the previous posts mentions, the problem is related to having transparencies and gradients in your .ai file. After Effects can't translate these when turning layers into shapes, so your best bet is to save your .ai file without any opaque layers or gradient fills and then work within After Effects to achieve the desired effect. Unfortunately the gradient tools aren't as robust within AE as they are in Illustrator, but if you need to be able to animate this feature within your shape layers, this is the only way to do it.

Another thing I've realized is that if you have any compound shapes in your .ai file, they will be placed within a single group within the shape layer. Sometimes graphic artists will turn a group of objects into a single compound path, perhaps to cut down on clutter in the layers panel, so if you need to be able to transform everything individually, make sure to release any of these larger compound paths. Obviously though, you'll want to keep any expanded text characters (A's, O's, g's, etc.) as compound paths, to make sure they end up as their own groups in AE.


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Cassius Marques
Re: Unnecessary Group and Merge Paths created when converting vector layers
on Jan 15, 2015 at 4:25:17 pm

I must have missed that part but thanks for taking the time to answer. I indeed had ONE layer with transparency in the eyes of my character. I noticed before that AE doesn't honor the transparency when it recreates the shapes but still that whole bunch of stuff seems like a poorly programmed function.


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