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Animating a swarm of ants over my subject/location

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Dominic Hicks
Animating a swarm of ants over my subject/location
on Jan 26, 2010 at 2:50:14 am

Strange one this...!
I'm new to after effects, and though I'm keen to learn everything it has to offer, I'm on a bit of a time limitation here, and need to know a basic guide on how to achieve an animation effect.

I'm shooting a short film in which the location and actors are infested with ants.

I will need to animate a swarm of ants over the shots, and animate ants in closer detail for close ups.

Obviously I'm not looking for pixar-esque photo-realism. In fact, the style of the film is bit more rough and ready than that anyway.

This scene from Linklater's A Scanner Darkly isn't far off from what I want to achieve:

Many thanks in advance for any advice/info you can offer me, and please keep your language simple as I'm still learning the basics in AE (I know what they say about walking before you run, but I have to make an exception!)
Thanks, Dom

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Ben Heusner Brownlee
Re: Animating a swarm of ants over my subject/location
on Jan 26, 2010 at 7:16:36 am

I'm going to be honest with you. This is going to be a hard shot to pull off if you're still learning the basics.

If it's a moving shot, then you're going to want to do some Motion Tracking to track the movement of the camera and/or actor. Next create or shoot an animated ant. Then you should take a look at one of the particle filters to make the hundreds of copies you'll need. Two that are part of the After Effects core install are Particle Playground or Foam. Foam sounds like a weird one, but you can better create trails of ants with Foam.

I hope that leads you in the right direction. You may be able to find another practical solution to the problem. Does the audience actually have to see ants on the person? Is the shot tight enough that we can't just infer that from the acting? Trails of ants on furniture or scenery is going to be easier to pull off than virtual ants on a real person.

All the best,

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Ricardo Pontes Lima
Re: Animating a swarm of ants over my subject/location
on May 11, 2010 at 3:47:47 am

I'm also looking to do an ants effect in a project for college, but it's something VERY simple, just a trail of dots climbing a pizza box and getting inside would do. I'm a beginner. If you could provide some assistance on how that can be done I would much appreciate it.

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