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pixels, motion, and scripting
david van brink // Mon 2007.11.26 22:34 // {after effects}


And from the “doing things the hard way” department…

I’d been playing around with the After Effects Echo effect, to create trails and such (like the salmonella flagella) and got all confused about how I could trick it into making a stripey worm. The script demonstrated above (available here) can do that, and more.

To use the script, select a layer in the comp and run the script. You can choose how long a history to produce, and also choose from several composition modes.

The script will produce history * framerate layers, each of whose starting time is offset in the comp by one more frame. (That’s 60 layers for a 2 second trail.) All animated properties on the selected layer are transcribed into the layer copies. The first layer gets all the property values from the first frame, the second layer gets all the animated property values as they are on the second frame, and so on.

It’s amazingly flexible, but, it’s very expensive — it creates one layer for every frame-into-the-past that you want to process. Iterating on the settings can be slow; you need to delete all the generated layers and retune your animated properties. On the other hand, it beats drawing every frame by hand, in magic marker, at least for some things, doesn’t it?

A future direction would be to try to animate each of the generated layer copies. I mean… if you’re doing to have them all there anyway, costing render time, there is opportunity to get even more visual output for the same price. But what does it mean? Some kind of two-dimensional space where each point defines a complete parameter set… *boggle*.

This post was also an exercise in visual exposition, to create the video above. You might recognize the font; it’s called Gorey and I found it here.

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