Fun with After Effects and Illustrator

Spring Break has provided an excellent opportunity to spend time playing around in my new software programs. One of the things I had wanted to do was try importing an Illustrator document into After Effects. I already knew how to do this with Apple Motion and Photoshop; but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a simple way to get Illustrator docs into Motion if you want to work with vectors. After about an hour or so struggling with my paths in Illustrator (I’m not very good at drawing with paths), I had a basic comp I could send to After Effects:

In After Effects, you simply import your Illustrator file as a composition to retain and animate the layers you’ve made. I had four layers – the ribbon background, text, and two brace layers. You’ll want to have some idea of how you want to animate the objects in your comp – each object has to be its own layer if you want to animate it independently of everything else.

The trickiest part for me this evening was figuring out how to continuously animate the ribbon background. If I had done this in Motion, I would have used the ‘Replay’ behavior and been done with it. After Effects CS5 appears to have more controls for this sort of time remapping, but I couldn’t quite figure why it wouldn’t work for me.  The ‘enable time remapping’ option stayed grayed out no matter what I did; I have a theory it’s because my layer wasn’t footage. I could’ve tested this theory by exporting the layer out as an .mov and bringing it back in, but I opted to animate using the good ‘ol motion track option instead.  I made a 10 sec. version of the moving ribbon so I can use it again on a real project someday. That sort of concept might look good as a lower third or something.

What do you think of my little animation? Am I on to something?

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