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Finding/creating good quality maps in AE

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Neil Orman
Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 1, 2011 at 2:12:48 pm

Hi,

I'm trying to animate maps in After Effects, for use in a documentary, and wanted to ask for advice on locating good quality maps to animate. I would really appreciate it. I understand one should stay away from jpegs and look for vector-based maps. Any advice on sources for vector-based maps? Alternatively, is it generally better to find existing maps to use, or create your own in Illustrator? For example, I saw the following link, which has state maps for free and U.S. and world maps for like $50 or $60:

http://digital-vector-maps.com/blank-state-maps/US-1055-United-States.htm

They looked okay, but I really need maps that I can customize for my needs, and would obviously prefer not to pay if possible. (although I certainly will if necessary) I'm glad to some Illustrator work myself, for example, but I'd prefer not to work on this from now until Christmas!

I would really appreciate any advice on this. I need a U.S. map and a world map, or at least one that shows from the United Stated down to South America. Any advice on sources or even general tips on animating and finding good maps in AE would be much appreciated.

Thank you very much,

Neil


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Erik Waluska
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 3, 2011 at 5:01:18 pm

Yeah, you would think it would be easy to find good maps but it's not. Stay away from the digitalvectormaps.com products, they're crap. We bought one of their world maps before and ended up getting a refund because they advertised the maps as being totally vector and say you can scale them as big as you want. The only parts that are vector are the outlines and the text, the rest of it is all raster and pixelates at anything about 100% scale. Here are a few links to check out:

http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm?event=extensionDetail&loc=e...

http://libremap.org/data/

The CIA site is my favorite. All high-quality, detailed, accurate, public domain maps of everyplace on the globe. The pdf files are partially vector and you can open them as layered files in Illustrator and modify/stylize to your heart's content...
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/docs/refmaps.ht...


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Neil Orman
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 4, 2011 at 12:07:07 am

This is a great great help, Erik. Thank you very much for your time and expertise!
Neil


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Erik Waluska
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 4, 2011 at 1:25:07 am

No problem. Good luck with your project.

-E


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Neil Orman
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 7, 2011 at 5:31:43 pm

May I please ask one more quick thing on this? I'm having a problem with blurriness in the map image when I zoom in or try to scale it within After Effects. In the past I thought the solution to this problem was the 'Continuously Rasterize' switch, but even after doing that the map text still looks blurry. This is true even though I can zoom in as much as I want within Illustrator, before bringing it into AE, and the image looks clear. I'm using the North America map you can see at the following link, to which Erik was kind enough to direct me, and which I believe is largely vector-based:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/docs/refmaps.ht...

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
Neil


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 7, 2011 at 6:06:50 pm

[Neil Orman] "Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated."

To scale them up, they should be ENTIRELY vector based. JPEGs are definitely bitmaps, and PDFs can be a mix. I suspect you used a PDF, and it was a mix of vector and bitmap.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Neil Orman
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 8, 2011 at 2:50:43 pm

You were right, Dave. Thanks for the advice.
Neil


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 8, 2011 at 3:27:42 pm

Getting good workable maps can be a real pain in patoot. There's map-generating software, but it's VERY pricey. So it's a constant search for ANYTHING.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Erik Waluska
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 7, 2011 at 10:04:33 pm

What file format are you importing into AE? I would suggest opening the PDF files in AI and saving them as an AI file and importing that into AE.


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Erik Waluska
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 8, 2011 at 3:42:23 am

Hey Neil,
The PDF maps are a mix of vector and raster so the borders and text will be sharp and the background is raster so it will start to deteriorate above 100% scaling. One thing that might be causing your issue with the blurry text is that you might be zooming into the comp window with the scroll wheel on the mouse instead of scaling the layer. In that case, the text and borders will look pixelated. Just save as an AI file and import as footage or a comp; either way works - text and borders should be sharp when you scale.

-E


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Neil Orman
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 8, 2011 at 2:48:59 pm

Your advice was dead on, Erik, and I really appreciate your time and expertise once again! I was using my mouse to zoom in and when I stopped that it fixed the problem. I also was placing the map PDF, using the 'Place' function in Illustrator, then saving it as an Illustrator file and then bringing it into AE. May I ask one quick follow-up, just to try and understand something here. Does it make any difference whether you use 'Place' versus actually going to File-Open then opening the PDF within Illustrator, and then bringing it into AE? I'm not sure if the problem was more caused by my zooming in with the mouse, or the Place versus File-Open thing.
Much appreciated again. I'm going to make an effort to participate more actively in this forum, although my expertise level is way behind most of the folks who seem to participate here.
Neil


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Erik Waluska
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 9, 2011 at 3:50:29 pm

Basically, if you place a vector PDF file in Illustrator it is still vector but flattened to a single referenced file layer. But if you open the PDF with Illustrator it will open with all of the layers and editable text intact. The downside is that if you don't have the font they used to create the file it can cause issues:




You can save either file type as an AI document and then open it in After Effects and they will both be vector (except for the raster background topology image of course). But a placed file will retain the original fonts:




However, with layered AI files, since the background topology image is raster you can put it on a separate layer in AI before you save the file and then import into AE as a composition and apply just enough blur (I prefer box blur) to that layer so you can scale larger without seeing the ugly pixelation on the background. The top image above has blur applied to the background and the bottom image does not.

-E


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Neil Orman
Re: Finding/creating good quality maps in AE
on Apr 11, 2011 at 7:01:49 pm

This is fantastic, Erik. Thanks so much.
Neil


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