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City lights reacting to music

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Karl KoehlerCity lights reacting to music
by on Jan 5, 2015 at 6:35:08 pm

The warmest greetings in this cold season!

English isn't my first language, so please bear with me:

this new project of mine gives me a challenge I can't solve for myself.
My skill set and understanding of After Effects puts me fairly in the "basic", or maybe "amateur" section
and because I'm certain that some scripting is required to get this right, I need help.

So the basic premise of the project is that I need city lights at night, like streetlamps, to be reacting to musical cues. And since this will be a music video, there're going to be some.
The shots are purposely almost always vistas, never say in the middle of a lively street so that the contrast between the light and the dark is definite.
Only the opacity (exposure/glow) is affected by the cues, meaning the intensity changes with whatever the instruments, or the vocals are doing.
Available to me are After Effects and the plugin Soundkeys.
I also have the separate tracks for each instrument and the vocals.
So in a scene with 1-30 lights, I'm able to work up a solution that works and looks adequately nice.
But since the finale builds up to the whole cityscape at night, I feel that masking every single lamp or window isn't the right way to go.
So, is it possible to write an expression that not only distributes the cues, based on the keyframes made by Soundkeys, to already bright spots in the footage without drawing a billion masks, and then even randomising these lights so that not all of them react simultaneously?

I'm not sure if I communicated my problem well, but I hope someone gives me a break.
And I thank you for your time in advance!


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Derek BoettcherRe: City lights reacting to music
by on Jan 5, 2015 at 7:35:12 pm

To my understanding of the plugin (I don't own it, but I've seen it in use, the rest is based on the workflow I would typically do), you will most likely need to create multiple instances of it, with each instance accepting a different frequency range to develop keyframes. Then you will need to pair your selected frequency ranges with your adjustment layers (or effects directly) to control the effects. If you are using a glow effect, it will effect the luma properties of the entire image. So if you only want a certain selection to be used, you'll need to keep a clean plate untouched, and then mask the sections you want the effects to have active. You can then feather them out to help blend sections in to one another.

Some glow effects allow you to specify highlights, midtones, etc. so be sure to look around in the effect settings to choose what you want to affect.

Best,
Derek Boettcher
Creative Management
BTH Media Group
http://bthmedia.com


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Karl KoehlerRe: City lights reacting to music
by on Jan 5, 2015 at 9:02:09 pm

Thanks for the reply!
That is basically where I am now. I can link one or several masks to one or several of Soundkeys outputs. But that means that the light or lights in that particular mask will always be triggered.
I'm looking for a way to alternate, or randomise the output between many masked lights.
I would actually be fine with drawing 300 masks, but I don't know how to tell After Effects to pick a random mask for a light flash, or two, and then automatically picking another.
Does that make sense?


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John CuevasRe: City lights reacting to music
by on Jan 5, 2015 at 9:48:28 pm

to do that randomly would require an expression. Try searching and asking in the Expressions Forum

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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Derek BoettcherRe: City lights reacting to music
by on Jan 5, 2015 at 9:52:48 pm

I get what you are saying, I'm just not entirely sure that it is possible given the limitations of the software. However, I would ask the folks over in After Effects Expressions, they are really good at this type of thing.

One way you might be able to get a simulated effect is if you can keyframe the input frequencies in your sound keys plugin. If you can, try using a wiggle and select your frequency of events and the magnitude for the wiggle to randomize with. If that works, then you can try to do the same thing over a few tracks but change the values a bit for a more random look. Again, I'm not so familiar with the plugin, but if you can figure it out, that may start getting you closer to what you need.

Best,
Derek Boettcher
Creative Management
BTH Media Group
http://bthmedia.com


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Karl KoehlerRe: City lights reacting to music
by on Jan 5, 2015 at 9:58:01 pm

Ah, my bad then.
I will do a couple of searches and give it another couple of tries and if not, I'll ask the other guys nicely!

Thanks!


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