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after effects mask frustrations

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Pier Bover
after effects mask frustrations
on Aug 2, 2010 at 3:28:33 am

So after a few hours of trying to do something I really gave up... I thought it was very simple but it seems it's impossible to do.

In Flash you can create a series of keyframes of different vector shapes to make an animated mask. It's not a vector shape moving and scaling around, and it's definitely not an interpolation of different vector shapes.

What I want to do is create a different vector mask for every frame to create the illusion of text being written. Stroke and write-on effect don't work because it's an irregular font.

The only way I found to do this is creating a mask layer for every frame, and switch alpha on/off at every frame. Which is so time consuming I simply gave up.

I'm pretty sure the problem is I simply do not know how to do it... but I stopped bangin my head against the wall.

How can I do it?

TIA


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Dave LaRonde
Re: after effects mask frustrations
on Aug 2, 2010 at 4:02:20 pm

[Pier Bover] "I thought it was very simple but it seems it's impossible to do... What I want to do is create a different vector mask for every frame to create the illusion of text being written. Stroke and write-on effect don't work because it's an irregular font."

Well, it's not impossible in AE, but it is time-consuming and you might want to do it in Flash since you know how already. Here's how you do it in AE:
  • Create the text layer.
  • Create a comp-sized solid above the text layer.
  • Lock the text layer, turn off the solid's visibility, and turn on the "show masks" button on the comp window.
  • Using the pen tool, draw mask paths on the solid for each line you want to animate to simulate writing
  • Apply multiple instances of the write-on effect, and use a different mask path for the brush position in each instance of the effect.
  • Adjust the brush parameters and timing of each animated line.
  • Precomp the solid, and open the precomp.
  • Duplicate the solid as many times as necessary to make an individual solid for each line you animated.
  • Delete all but one instance of the write-on effect in each layer. When you've completed that, you'll have one solid and one effect, making a different line.
  • To get rid of those annoying dots, trim each layer to the point where the animation begins.
  • In the main comp, use the precomp as a track matte to real the text.

Obviously, this is NOT a technique you want to use unless you have alll your ducks in a row, and are ready to proceed with the writing-on animation.

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


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Pier Bover
Re: after effects mask frustrations
on Aug 2, 2010 at 4:38:03 pm

I thought AE was (besides being a composition software) an animation software, but it seems it's not viable to do frame by frame animation with it.

I didn't know I could import Flash in AE! In that case it seems the most viable option to me at this time.

Thanks for your help


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Michael Szalapski
Re: after effects mask frustrations
on Aug 2, 2010 at 5:40:01 pm

After Effects is a great compositing, motion graphics and (to some extent) color correction tool. I wouldn't list animation as one of its strong points. There's a reason shows like Harvey Birdman are animated in Flash not AE.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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