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Help with Advanced masks in adobe after effects!

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Troy GordonHelp with Advanced masks in adobe after effects!
by on Apr 11, 2010 at 4:34:53 am

Hey everyone I'm having some trouble with an animation that involves alot of masks heres what I've created so far:

So I drew an elliptical mask around each bubble and animated them "Popping" by cranking the mask expansion to a low negative value then animating it to 0 . I applied this to each bubble... (there is probably some expression or easier way of doing this but I'm not a pro with after effects juuust yet)

I Think this animation looks great but my client wants each bubble to slide in quickly instead of pop.
So the centre bubble is like a magnet attracting the rest of them in. Which means I need to be able to move each bubble around independently instead of revealing them with a mask.

So i was wondering is there way to take all those masks (all 203) and convert them into layers so that i can use them to move each bubble on its own. OR is there an even simpler method.

ALSO! I have a PSD file where i created an elliptical mask around each bubble and created a new layer BUT when I import it into After effects its WAYYYY to slow to work with. Anyway I could speed that up

Any help would be VERY VERY Appreciated

Thanks guys


Troy Gordon

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Steve RobertsRe: Help with Advanced masks in adobe after effects!
by on Apr 11, 2010 at 12:16:28 pm

Sounds like a job for Shatter. Make a movie (or precomp) of the dots exploding away, then reverse it. The caveat is: you don't have total control over the movement of the dots. If your client wants that, he/she will have to spring for you to place every dot on a layer.

In addition to the original graphic, you'll need:
1) an image to indicate what shatters (I might use the original illustration, but with some black glow applied to fatten each dot.
2) a gradient to indicate what breaks away first (comes in last). This gives you some control over the assembly of the dots.

Others are more knowledgeable that me. Check the help as well.

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Erik WaluskaRe: Help with Advanced masks in adobe after effects!
by on Apr 11, 2010 at 4:08:30 pm

Hi Troy, You could probably do it all on one layer with minimal processor power. Since the artwork is very simple and high-contrast I would use the Auto-trace feature (Layer > Auto-trace) to automatically mask all of those tiny bubbles for you. be sure you have your AE preferences for masks set to cycle the colors to make it easier to manage them. You'll have to play with the Auto-trace settings a little but as long as your artwork has enough resolution you should get very good results. You should end up with a solid with masks for each of the bubbles. Set the color of the solid to black and add a white solid layer for the background underneath.

To animate, select the bubbles layer and hit "MM" to reveal all of the masks. Select the first mask and then hit Ctrl + A (Cmd + A for mac) to select all masks and set a keyframe for mask path and then move all of those keyframes down in the timeline a few frames and set another keyframe as the starting point.

Now you can just go through and double-click each mask and slide it out of frame as desired. Once your done you just need to stagger the animations. Andrew Kramer has a nice technique for doing that in this tutorial:

He also has a script to convert masks to layers if you decide to go that route, which is in the project file for this tutorial:

Good luck!


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Troy GordonRe: Help with Advanced masks in adobe after effects!
by on Apr 11, 2010 at 7:20:38 pm


Thanks for the posts so far guys. I think I'm going to have to make them all into layers because I don't know if theres a way to animate each bubble sliding in with the masks because masks will just reveal the original image underneath.

So If I am going the route of creating all masks into layers is there anyway to speed up performance because theres 203 masks so that will be 203 layers, and i except after effects to really slow down after i do this.


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Erik WaluskaRe: Help with Advanced masks in adobe after effects!
by on Apr 11, 2010 at 9:04:07 pm

When you use Auto-trace it does not apply the masks to the original image, it creates a new solid, which you can make the color of the dots. Since they are all the same solid color you only need the one solid layer with all of the masks. You can turn off the original image layer or delete it altogether.

This way you only have two layers: the black solid auto-traced layer with the masks, and the white solid background layer. Very simple, very easy on your processor and it should render very fast.

Does that make more sense?

Trust me, it will work, just try it.


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