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  • animating hundreds of dots into different shapes

  • andrew dutton

    March 8, 2015 at 1:58 am


    i wanted to create an animation on after effects using hundreds of dots that collectively make up the shape of say a tennis racket then move individually(in a sort of scattering motion as if they have been blown away by a gust of wind) to a new position and form the shape of a different object such as a pistol. is there a way of doing this quickly, as moving the individual dots one by one by changing the position keyframes is very time consuming.

    thanks hopefully the description of what i want to do is clear enough.

  • Piotr Wilk

    March 8, 2015 at 10:43 pm


    I think I get the picture 🙂
    You can do this using the effect called „Particle Playground” under Effect->Simulation.
    Firstly you need to draw a desired shape. Then create a new solid and apply the above effect.
    Then in the Effect Controls, use your shape as an Explode Layer in the „Layer Exploder” Tab. What it does is forming your drawn shape into lots of particles, which you can disperse by playing around with the effect’s parameters (like Gravity and Repel). Remember to key „Radius of New Particles” from 1 to 0 in first 2 frames, otherwise you will get new particles generating every next frame and you won’t get the result you’re looking for 🙂 It’s also important to „zero” all values under Cannon Group, because they’re triggered automatically and generate particles from a point.

    You’ll have to experiment with the values to get the appropriate effect. I think it would be OK to just disperse the particles from the first shape, then do the same with the other shape on a separate composition, time-reverse it and composite them together with a little fading in between to trick a little bit when they transform from one to another.

    I hope this helps you to get the direction…

    Best regards,

  • andrew dutton

    March 9, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Thanks for the reply this method doesn’t seem a million miles away from what i need, but im struggling to get the number of particles being produced by particle playground down to where id want it. I think its probably not the right particle producer for the animation. Here’s a test animation that I made but using hundreds of dot shapes and changing their position keyframes. that is effectively the animation i want but could really do with a less time consuming method.

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  • Piotr Wilk

    March 9, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Using a Particle Playground (with Layer Exploder option), the only method of controlling the amount of particles is to decrease Particle Radius down to zero after first frame. If you need only outlined shapes (like in your test animation) you can try drawing a shape with dashed stroke only, then setting its width to a small value. This should give you a decrease in particles’ overall number. Maybe breaking the object into several simple particle systems combined together will give satisfactory results… Anyway good luck 🙂

    Best regards,

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