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Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects

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James Dolley
Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects
on Jul 25, 2019 at 3:32:27 am

Hi all, I'm looking to animate thousands of dots around the one anchor point.

Basically, the circle on the left would be my starting point, and I want to almost make it 'breathe', with the dots moving in and out from the center of the circle so it becomes roughly like the second circle. Less dense at the edges to more dense at the edges, but keeping the same amount of dots at the same time.



I hope that makes sense?

This might be a tricky one, and might only be able to be fixed with a plugin or something.


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Cassius Marques
Re: Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects
on Jul 25, 2019 at 7:15:49 pm

That seems doable with a lot of plugins and applications... anything that supports spherical fields. You could do that with plexus I guess. Adding a spherical container, and a spherical field.

Since you're looking at it from a front view... only the outer most points (in the z± axis) would remain less affected by the field and thus more at the middle. Once you increase the force/size, they will tend to the outer edges.

Cassius Marques
http://www.zapfilmes.com


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Blaise Douros
Re: Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects
on Jul 25, 2019 at 8:22:36 pm

Create a solid, with an instance of the Audio Waveform plugin, and make sure the Start and End points are all the way at each left and right edge of your canvas. Set the Display Options in the Audio Waveform plugin to "Analog Dots." Duplicate it, and change a few settings, perhaps decreasing and increasing the Displayed Samples property on each new layer. When you have a sufficiently complex number of dots on a straight line, precompose all of the Audio Waveform solid layers you've created.

Next, apply Polar Coordinates to the precomp. Set the type of conversion to "Rect to Polar." You'll now have a circle of dots.

Now, you can load different audio files to the precomp, and set each layer to react with greater or lesser intensity to the sounds. That way, they'll react together, but at different levels.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects
on Jul 25, 2019 at 8:29:30 pm

On second thought, Audio Spectrum might work better, because you can make the dots only go in one direction reacting to the audio (via the Display Options and Side Options). Might get you something a little closer to what you're thinking of.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects
on Jul 25, 2019 at 8:43:38 pm

And even simpler than using the Polar Coordinates step--the Audio Spectrum effect allows you to orient the audio samples along a mask path, so if you just draw a circular mask, duplicate it on each instance, you can remove the precomp and Polar Coordinates step, as well as eliminating some of the distortion that comes with that effect.

If that sounds specific, it's because I jumped into AE to try it, out of pure curiosity. Works great!


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James Dolley
Re: Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects
on Jul 29, 2019 at 10:36:58 pm

Thanks for all this! I really appreciate it.

I had a look into this technique and it possibly might not work for what I want to achieve. For more context, here are two more shapes that I wanted to animate:



The shape on the left would again animate to 'breathe' and become more and less dense towards the center.

The second on the right would do the same from the base.

The method you recommended doesn't seem to allow this kind of animation I think? Any other ideas? I'm a bit stuck here.

Thanks! :)


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James Dolley
Re: Animating thousands of dots around one anchor point | After Effects
on Aug 1, 2019 at 4:17:19 am

Thanks guys. I managed to do it using Trapcode Form, and playing with the settings until it came out right. That was the effect I was looking for.


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