LIBRARY: Tutorials Reviews Interviews Editorials Features Business Authors RSS Feed

Animating a Butterfly

Animating a Butterfly
CreativeCOW Adobe After Effects Tutorial


Animating a Butterfly in AE 5.5

Marek Doszla
La F@KTORY, Paris, France
marek@lafaktory.com ~ http://www.lafaktory.com

©2003 Marek Doszla and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
In this tutorial, Marek Doszla shows how to animate a butterfly in After Effects 5.5 starting from a digital picture. Marek puts it in the category of "After Effects experiment", however he uses some sophisticated features of After Effects as 3D space, expressions and time remapping that could be useful to beginners or even advanced users in motion graphics.

Movie link Project sit Project zip

---Creating the Butterfly in Photoshop---


At this season in Paris there are no butterflies and I wanted my butterfly in red so I needed to ask the permission to use an existing picture.

It comes from Liang-Wu Cai , he took this wonderful butterfly picture at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Concord, MA. in August 2, 1997" .
The link to his page is here : http://web.mit.edu/cai/www/jpg/closeup/butterfly.html

In Photoshop I used a rulers guide, (blue vertical line)
that will make up the axis of symmetry (left-right)
and will serve later as reference to spread out a little bit the wings of butterfly as I had separate them from the body.

After erasing the background, I've created 3 layers which holds separately: body, left wing, right wing.

As you see on screen shots on the right, wings were spread out with rubber stamp to "stick" to the blue line of symmetry.


---Importing the Butterfly into After Effects---

In After Effects, import "butterfy.psd" file as "Composition" (see right screen shot)


After the import, we end up in Project window
(see screen shot above), with a folder with 3 stills related to 3 layers in Photoshop file and new After Effects composition that holds already these 3 layers in time line (see screen shot below.)



---Setting Up the Butterfly Comp---

Go to the composition settings (see screen shot to the right) and make more room for the butterfly , let's say: 600 x 400 pixels (for flying butterfly needs more space ) and make the duration of composition to 1 second (we will see after how to expand the "life" of butterfly to ANY duration we need)



In timeline (see screen shot below) make all 3 layers "3D" clicking in 3D box column, also check high quality display.




shutter angle = 0 = no motion blur at all
Go again to the composition settings and choose "Advanced" tab (see screen shot below) . In rendering Plug-in choose "Advanced 3D" and specify 360 for "shutter angle" as we want high motion blur


shutter angle = 360 = highest motion blur

---Setting Up the Butterfly Wings Anchor Point---

As we are going to rotate wings in space to make them fly, we need to shift their anchor points toward the axis of symmetry. In After Effects we can use "rulers guides" (thanks Adobe). Select left wing layer in time line. Using "Pan behind Y" tool (see screen shot), move it with mouse towards "center of gravity". Redo the same for right wing. Now we are ready to animate the butterfly


Before

After

---Animating the Butterfly Wings---

We are going to rotate butterfly wings in 3D space along Y (green arrow) axis so the better view to work with is Top view.
Enable Y-axis key-frames in timeline for wings. We need only 3 key frames during 1 second. See screen shots below.


WINGS KEY FRAMES for Y-rotation
at time code 00:00 and 00:24
WINGS KEY FRAMES for Y-rotation
at time code 00:12


As wings overlap the body, we need to shift body position in Z direction about 10 pixels (see blue highlights on screen shot below). Enable motion blur and make preview in custom view. Butterfly flies already, sure in place, we are going to let it fly using trajectories and the camera in the next step. We could also animate the body by rotating it in X or Z axis.




---Looping the Butterfly in Time---


Now we have a flying butterfly during 1 second and we will use it in the new composition during let's say 15 seconds.
There is a trick to loop a composition (thanks to Dan Ebberts here at COW forum) :

Pre-comp the comp you want to loop into a new comp that is long enough to hold all the loops you want. Enable time remapping for the new comp. Type "rr" to reveal the keyframes. Set a keyframe at the last frame of the loop. Delete the keyframe at the end of the comp. You should now have keyframes at the start of the loop and the end of the loop. Enter this expression in the time-remapping property:

loop_out("cycle",0)

That should do it.

If you use the method I described, you'll lose the first frame of your loop after it plays through once. If that's important, you need to add one more keyframe after the one at the end of the loop and set its value to zero. loop_out("cycle",0) behaves better if the last keyframe is identical to the first one.

I've found a work around to this solution: (see the screen shot below), I don't have 100% of speed but I'm close to it and I manage with 2 key frames. From now, I've created a new composition with duration of 15 seconds and thanks to expressions I could layout the 1 second butterfly animation to any length, simply by dragging its right handle in timeline.




Explanation: loop_out("cycle",0)


In order to understand what really does loop_out("cycle",0) I'll try to explain it here: If we convert an expression to key frames we will see periodical "use" of frames from 1 second composition within "outlasting" composition.







---Animate the Butterfly in 3D Space and in Time---


From now there are 100,000 possibilities to animate the butterfly comp within After Effects 3D space. Here, I've just added a camera without animating it, instead I've animated position and rotations of butterfly. Butterfly flies with the constant speed defined in its composition of 1 second.



For more fun, I've duplicated previous "comp1" of duration 15 seconds into "comp1*" for which I've extended duration to 25 seconds, so I was able to do some time remapping. In "comp1*" I could speed up or slow down the butterfly in order to achieve another result.





Conclusion

I didn't pretend to achieve a simulation of real butterfly, it was just a great fun to experiment with wonderful After Effects, I hope you've enjoyed my tutorial...

Marek Doszla
www.lafaktory.com


Feel free to discuss this tutorial in the After Effects forum at CreativeCOW.net.



If you found this page from a direct link, please visit our forums or read other articles at CreativeCOW.net



Related Articles / Tutorials:
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects Reverse Stabilization

Adobe After Effects Reverse Stabilization

You're going to be blown away by how you can power up your After Effects workflow with reverse stabilizing your footage! By separating your tracking from your compositing, you can focus on each step, and in addition, overcome the render order complexities when match moving elements and effects on a moving shot.


Roei Tzoref
Adobe After Effects
After Effects Content Aware Fill: When It Doesn't  Work

After Effects Content Aware Fill: When It Doesn't Work

There’s a new artificial intelligence-powered feature in Adobe After Effects called Content-Aware Fill that allows you to remove anything from your shots fairly easily! It's powerful, but if you’ve tried it you know that it doesn’t always work perfectly. So what do you do when it doesn’t work as well as you'd hoped? Filmmaker Cody Pyper is here to show what to try next!


Cody Pyper
Adobe After Effects
VFX in Adobe After Effects: An Artists Panel (NAB)

VFX in Adobe After Effects: An Artists Panel (NAB)

Join panelists Andrew Kramer of Video Copilot, Jayse Hansen, and Mary Poplin of Boris FX, along with moderator, Victoria Nece of Adobe, as they discuss the world of visual effects from an artist’s perspective.


Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe After Effects
Scars, Tattoos & Digital Makeup: After Effects & Mocha Pro

Scars, Tattoos & Digital Makeup: After Effects & Mocha Pro

How do you add SCARS, TATTOOS or DIGITAL MAKEUP to a person's face? Learn how to use Mocha Pro's planar tracker and the Mesh Warp tool to insert a flat image/video on a (non flat) human face! Join VFX guru Tobias G from Surfaced Studio for a closer look!


Tobias G
Adobe After Effects
Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use, Pt 5: Brightness

Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use, Pt 5: Brightness

The first challenge to understanding the nature of brightness in compositing starts with remembering that we're not actually seeing color at all, but rather something of an illusion that appears to us as color! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 5 of the best look behind the technology of compositing that you've ever seen, as he takes a look at the math behind brightness, and how to apply that to the compositing toolsets in your favorite editing, compositing, and color grading applications.

Tutorial
Simon Ubsdell
Adobe After Effects
60 Second Tutorial: Alien Invasion in Adobe After Effects

60 Second Tutorial: Alien Invasion in Adobe After Effects

Here's a fast, fun one! Sixty seconds to create and animate an alien using the 3D and Track Camera tools to animate your character in Adobe After Effects. Use the included files, or bring your own!

Tutorial
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe After Effects
What Are Adobe Motion Graphics Templates?

What Are Adobe Motion Graphics Templates?

A Motion Graphics Template, referred to as a MOGRT, is an animated sequence that is self-contained and can be used in Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Premiere Rush and Adobe After Effects, combining graphics, text, audio and video files, as well as vector or still images (including logos), to create a still or animation that can then be customized by the MOGRT user. The result is a dynamic creative tool that provides design freedom and is consistent to its users across apps and devices. Reuse, share, and even sell them!


Rod Harlan
Adobe After Effects
Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use Pt. 4 - Advanced Alphas

Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use Pt. 4 - Advanced Alphas

When most people hear the words "alpha channels", they think "transparency", but that's not exactly accurate. The truth is more complex, and a quite bit more interesting! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 4 of the best look behind the technology of compositing that you've ever seen, packed with practical advice for applying the secrets of alpha channels that's simply not possible before understanding these underlying principles. No matter which applications you're using for editing, compositing, or visual effects, this one is a must-see!

Tutorial
Simon Ubsdell
Adobe After Effects
Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use: Pt. 3 - Alpha Channels

Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use: Pt. 3 - Alpha Channels

When most people hear the words "alpha channels", they think "transparency", but that's not exactly accurate. The truth is more complex, and a quite bit more interesting! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 3 of the best look behind the technology of compositing that you've ever seen, packed with practical advice for applying the secrets of alpha channels that's simply not possible before understanding these underlying principles. No matter which applications you're using for editing, compositing, or visual effects, this one is a must-see!

Tutorial
Simon Ubsdell
Adobe After Effects
Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use 2: Advanced Blend Modes

Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use 2: Advanced Blend Modes

Whether you're a full-time compositor and VFX artist, an editor working in one of the many NLEs that supports Blend Modes (including Adobe Premiere, Apple FCP and FCPX, Avid Media Composer, DaVinci Rsolve, and VEGAS Pro), or whether you just want the additional graphics power that comes with insight into the secret world of pixels, this is the tutorial for you! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 2 of the best look behind the technology of blend modes that you've ever seen, with some practical steps you can start taking today to make your work look better than ever.

Tutorial
Simon Ubsdell
MORE
© 2019 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]