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  • Distributing 3D objects in a circle.

    Posted by Paul Whishaw on May 2, 2005 at 1:56 am

    I have a bunch of objects that I want to be placed around an animation of a planet I have. My camera will pan around a spinning globe making it look like the flags are orbiting the planet. Is there an easy way to distribute numerous objects in a uniform manner around an object?

    I hand placed 5 objects, moved their anchor points to the middle of my comp, copied them and then rotated the new bunch. It’s not very precise though. There has to be an easier way.

    Thabks in advance for your help.

    Jim Tierney replied 18 years, 11 months ago 4 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • Steve Roberts

    May 2, 2005 at 2:21 am

    Here’s one option:

    I’m not sure if the 3D Assistants Lite (with 6.5) will do the job.

    Alternately, you could take one object and move its anchor point. Select the next one, and pickwhip its anchor point to the first layer, creating an expression. Select that Anchor Point property, then edit>copy expression only. Select the rest of the layers, then edit>paste. Next, create an expression for Y rotation for the first layer:


    Where n is 360 divided by the number of objects. If you expect to change the number of objects, it might be good to use an expression controls effect to tie n to a slider, so you can change n in one shot, without having to change a bunch of expressions, which we will make now.

    Select the rotation parameter with the above expression, and select edit>copy expression only. Next, select the other layers, and select edit>paste.

    All the layers should now form a ring, where their rotation (place around the ring) is determined by their layer indeces (indexes). Layer 1 is at 0 degrees, Layer 2 at n degrees, Layer 3 at 2*n degrees, and so on.

    Note that if you change a layer’s position in the layer stack or place other layers above, its index (or all indeces) will change and so will its rotation value.

    Hope that works … I’m not at the AE box right now to test.


  • Mike Clasby

    May 2, 2005 at 3:59 am

    Cylinder Creator Lite (comes with AE 6.5) works fine to make layer orbit in a cylindrical fashion. Just creat a 3D nul and parent all the layers in the cylindrical spread to the null, then rotate the null.

    Digital Anarchy has tuts. But basically you just make your layers 3D, then open the Cylinder Creator Lite Window, it’s under “Windows” near the bottom, but they’re grayed out if the layers aren’t 3D.

    This is also available:

    Expressions Library

    “Distribute layers in shape of sphere” by oscarus

    There is even an aep file, so you can just Alt drag layers if you’re in a hurry.

    If your project wants to veer toward instability, like me and mine, check this marvel from Dan Ebbert out:

    This will give you random motion on a sphere.

  • Steve Roberts

    May 2, 2005 at 5:01 am

    Ah — my bad. Not being at the AE machine, I forgot about Cylinder Lite.


  • Jim Tierney

    May 3, 2005 at 1:10 am

    For a ring, just make a very short cylinder. 🙂

    Of course, if you own AE 6.5, you can upgrade to the full version of 3D Assistants for $99 and be able to make a ring by clicking the ‘Make ring of layers’ checkbox.

    >>If your project wants to veer toward instability, like me and mine, check this marvel from Dan Ebbert out:

    lol… Dan is f*ing amazing.


    Jim Tierney
    Digital Anarchy

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