I'm trying to create really basic animations to explain Hoplite phalanxes (I'm a History teacher).
I'm looking for technique suggestions for how to:
Have individual shapes form into a larger shape (like particle playground can fill a shape, but less random- i want distinct individual shapes acting in formation rather than randomly overlapping and filling a shape).
Have some shapes "Die" and then have the shapes behind file forward to replace it (maybe some form of directional gravity?)
Have the formation Bow and bend- once again, the way I've seen particle playground do it is to completely disintegrate and reform, rather than just shift to fill a new shape).
Have the formation "Break and run".
This video has something like what I want to build in the bottom left corner (formation reforming after casualties etc)
I don't really have the vocabulary to describe what I'm wanting to achieve in after effects terms so vocab terms will be a big help.
I understand I'm asking a lot here so any help at all is appreciated :)
You won't be able to do this with any particle system, at least not in AE. You'll have to animate the individual particles as separate layers. What you can do is parent them all to a master null so that you can move all particles together with that master null (position and rotation) but as for individual particles dying and others taking their place to fill in the formation, that is a manual animation between two or more states. And pretty much the same with bending and reshaping formations. Even the scatter is probably simplest done with individual particle animations, unless you want to get into expressions (which will take longer to come up with than just animating the scatter).