After more than 8 months at superhuit, I guess it is time for me to introduce myself. My name is Gabriel. Originally from Lausanne, I am passionate about extreme sports and mountain climbing and I have joined the team last autumn as a motion-designer.

Today I am in charge of the lab, and I am taking this opportunity to present you one of the last projects I did at superhuit. Few months ago, for the opening of our second office in Porto, we created a range of pictograms representing iconic spots in both Lausanne and Porto. The goal was to illustrate the launch of the Porto office by transforming our superhuit logo into 8 motion-design posts available on our Instagram.

Besides the concept definition and its design, a big part of developing a motion-design project is planning and structuring your base setup. There’s lots of tools available in motion software. A bad initial setup can mean you lose a lot of time.

In this post, I will present you several motion techniques in order to increase the productivity. In order to understand it, it is preferable to have some knowledge about the After Effects software. Don’t worry if you don’t; just ignore the technical terms.

Analysis and technological choice

The project aims to create 8 sequences of animation, each including the transformation of 2 pictograms into a single logo.

A sequence consists of 4 steps:

  1. The transformation of pictogram 1 into a logo
  2. The logo’s transformation into pictogram 2
  3. The transformation of pictogram 2 into a logo
  4. The logo’s transformation into pictogram 1

Within this sequence, we only need to animate steps 1 and 3 and create the following by simply reusing the first two in reverse.

The production of steps 1 and 3 consists of setting up many keyframes, knowing that there are 16 pictograms to animate, this is undoubtedly the most time consuming part of the process. After Effects offers an interesting alternative for it called “the expressions”. They help you to automatize several actions via Javascript instructions, and therefore avoid using keyframes.

Files preparation

At this point of the process, the objective is to split the pictogram in 2 parts in order to create a set of logical layers to organize them as follows :

  • 1 layer including the logo
  • 1 layer for the first transition stroke
  • 1 layer for the first half of the pictogram
  • 1 layer for second transition stroke
  • 1 layer for the second half of the pictogram

Animation setup

Let’s start by importing the file and set the composition to 50 fps.

 

In order to correctly use the expressions, we need to shape layers with the “slider control” effect and a “trim path” option. They will be useful for controlling the animation of strokes.

 

The expression time returns a number that represents the current time in composition. By adding time*100 to the logo’s slider, this will increase it from 0 to 100 in 1 second. After that, you just need to connect it to “end” under the ”trim path” option.

 

In order to link the second layer to the first one we will use the same process by specifying to wait until the slider of the first layer reaches the value of 90. This will then launch the second animation just before the first ends.

Once it is done, we can link the slider to the parameter “end” and “start” under the “trim path” option.

To create the feature’s length of 15%, you just need to delay the “start” parameter of 15. As the trajectory of this feature is longer than the other ones, we can simply make the animation go slower by adding time*50.

 

Now it is time to link the third layer as previously explained.

 

Now that we have the first part animated, we just need to duplicate the values of the layer 2 and 3 to the layer 4 and 5

Sequence’s animation

We will make a new composition of 8 seconds, duplicate the content and join the copy to the first layer by reversing it.

 

We can now modify the animation’s rhythm by speeding up certain parts with the “time remapping” effect. To do so, we will create a new composition of 25 fps.

The final touch

Well, we are almost done! We just need to join the rest of the sequences as we did before, check the last details and export the animation.

To sum up

Good tools can help you to save time for the clients but also for us who already spend a lot of time in front of our computers…Time is precious!

Should you have any questions or doubts, feel free to contact me via this blog post or if you pass by our office in Lausanne, I’d love to talk about it around a coffee!

Thanks for reading my post and don’t forget to check the rest of the project on our Instagram

 

Want to know more?

Dan Ebberts proposes on his website a lot of good resources about expressions.
http://www.motionscript.com/

Aenhancers is a good place to get your expressions questions answered.
http://www.aenhancers.com/

And obviously, the official Adobe After Effects documentation.
https://helpx.adobe.com/after-effects/using/expression-basics.html

 

Gabriel