Select the drop down menu’s below to show the individual tutorials.

Complete Tutorial Walkthrough

To get to grips with the basics behind Adobe After effects, the first lesson looked at simple animating effects using key-frames and the graph editor. To show this we have used the iconic Archigram Image ‘Instant City’ (1969). We were provided with a layered PSD file with some items already cut out.

  1. The first task I completed was to modify the original photoshop file to remove some extra items including the couple from the image. I have then used the clone tool behind the couple to allow me to move them slightly without losing detail behind them. The image to the left shows the original image with some modifications to remove the couple.

2. This screenshot shows the cut out objects on there own layers separate from the background. By using a layered photoshop file you can import a large number of images without having to save them all separately, this saves a considerable amount of time and also makes organization easier. In terms of an architectural animation this technique can be used very well to animate existing architectural drawings without having to re-position all the items when you import them.

3. When we get into after effects the first step is to create a new composition. It is important to get this right when you start a project to ensure everything is scaled correctly when you come to export it. For the purpose of this demonstration we are creating a standard PAL widescreen animation. This is the default used to broadcast to British television. I have therefore selected ‘PAL D1/DV Widescreen Square Pixel’, The square pixel is used to ensure all devices read the animation at the same aspect ratio. Conventionally films will use rectangular pixel to shoot a widescreen image onto a square 35mm sensor/film, which is then stretched to emulate the original 21:9 aspect ratio without any data loss.

4. With After Effects setup it is time to import our content setup in Photoshop. To do this I have saved the Photoshop file and on the Project browser within After Effects I can either double click or right click and import file. Within the window browser I can navigate to my layered Photoshop file and select import, this will then open a new dialog box requesting how to open the file. To ensure I import all of my layers and their positioning information I select ‘Composition – Retain Layer Sizes’ and ‘Editable Layer Styles’. If i did not want to keep any of the layer information I can select ‘Merge Layer Styles into Footage’.

This has now imported each individual layer into a folder along with its own composition showing everything as setup in Photoshop. As I intend to re-position all of the items within my scene I will use the composition I set up earlier.  Then drag just my edited background layer into the timeline. As the image is larger than my default comp size i will tap ‘S’ and drag the scale down to a usable size 38% in this case, I can then re position the background to ensure it fills the comp.

5. To start with the animation we need to keyframe the different positions of the extra objects. So firstly we need to bring in one of the cut layers onto our comp. Firstly I will bring over one of the balloons and position it where i want the animation to start, making sure it sits above the background layer. Then making sure my timeframe is at 0 seconds, with the balloon layer selected i can tap ‘P’ to bring up the position tab and click the stopwatch to the left. to set the second step I can drag the timeline forward to 3 seconds and by alterating the X and Y coordinates a new keyframe has been created and will automatically animate the movement. I repeat this until I have created an animation I like. To ease the object in better I can select all of the keyframes and tap F9 to convert them to easy-ease frames.

6. To animate the waving spot lights uses a very similar process, however it requires an extra step to start. As we are going to rotate these they have to rotate around a single point which by default is the center. To do this we can tap ‘A’ to show the anchor point and then adjust the X/Y coordinates to bring the point onto the origin of the light ray. With this completed we can move the light to our start position and repeat step 5 however rather than animating the position we will animate the rotation using the ‘R’ shortcut.

In order to clean up my composition by I have repeated the above with 3 lights and then I can select all of the lights and right click > Pre Compose. Then select Move all attribute to new comp. Within here I can modify all of my lights separately without cluttering up the master composition. I have also added some effects including a Rotation Blur and Tint simulate lights more closely and add more of a motion blur to add more depth to the shot.

Another reason for using pre-compose is that on my master comp I can now add a mask to the bridge, giving more depth, if i were to add a mask on the light itself the mask would rotate with the light.

7. To add some additional animation to the drawing I have downloaded an image of a car and animated both the position and scale to give the affect of it driving along the road. As i need the car to sit behind the existing cars I have created a mask tool around the existing cars and inverted the mask to hide the new car when it is behind the black and white cars.

To match the style of this car I have added a posterise effect to reduce the number of colours used down to 4, which simulates the rest of this image very well. I have then added a tint and vibrance effect to make the car pop from its surroundings.

Finally to finish off the look I have added a camera with a subtle Pan and an adjustment layer which fades in and out with a pop-art effect and also a sketch effect to give a more interesting fade in.

Final Result:

Complete Video Walkthough:

After Effects has moved on considerably from just basic 2D animations and has a powerful 3D model space to create animations in three dimensions. Conventionally modelling everything in 3D with realistic textures is not a time efficient process if a physical model or place already exists. An easy way to create a virtual 3D environment within After Effects is by layering together multiple images with a camera.

  1. To start this process, as with before we have an image, although this is just a flattened jpeg image. So first we open this with Photoshop and need to create multiple layers for each row of shelves, so that we can separate them within After Effects. To get started with the foreground image we can duplicate our background and then deleted everything except our front level of shelves.

2. We now have to repeat this step for each row of shelves, however this time we will clone out the row before with extra rows of sweets and biscuits, so that from the camera’s perspective you dont see errors in the image. This supermarket image as taken by Andreas Gursky in 1999 is very easy for this because of the repetitive nature of supermarket shelves.

This process can be repeated 7 times to separate all of the shelves. The background shelves do not require as much detail because of the size of the output resolution, however an important step is to remove the columns from all of the shelves behind the main columns, so they are not duplicated across the background, the clone tool can be used to remove all of these along with extending the shelves.

3. With the image file divided into 7 separate layers and a background image file we can save the photoshop file with layers and import it to After Effects, as we did in tutorial 01 keeping all of the positioning and layers intact. We will also create a DV PAL composition the same as before with square pixels, then selecting all of the layers we can drag them down into the composition and they will all be dropped in the same location.

To get started with the 3D effect we have to select the 3D cube next to each layer and then go to Layer > New > Camera. This will put a camera on top of all the images. To see within the 3D workspace you need to select ‘1 View’ under the preview window and select ‘2 Views’. By default this will bring up a plan view and camera view. The plan view will allow you to see the Z location of each image. To create the 3D effect we now need to position each layer on different locations on the Z axis. For this image I have used multiples of 500. You can add this information by tapping ‘P’ on each layer and typing in a new Z position.

4. With each image separated by 500 points we now have to scale each of the images up to create a triangle look on our plan view. This can be done by selecting each layer and going to scale ‘S’ on each item. If the camera cannot see the whole of the front image, you should move the Z position of the camera until the front image fills the screen. You can then proceed to stretch each of the images so they all fill the screen and form a triangle.

From here we can animate the camera in a very simple slider movement by key framing the Point of Interest and Position keys. As we are now working within a 3D space with a camera we can use the drop down menu on the camera to add a focus distance and depth. This effect gives a more realistic simulation of a camera and can also hide any of the clone and cut lines out of focus.

5. With a 3D looking animation complete it is now important to finish off the animation with some colour correction and colour compositing. To do this I can select all of my layers including the camera and Pre-Compose, by moving all attributes. In the master comp I can now add effects to the 1 layer that remains. For this animation I have decreased the saturation added a CC Lens effect to warp the field of view slightly. The final changes is to add some colour curves, film grain and noise.

Now to export the video and share it above, for this I am exporting Via Adobe Media Encoder which allows me to queue up multiple exports with an easy interface to choose the output quality. The settings used here are Quicktime with a H.264 compression using 25 frames per second and the original aspect ratio and size.

Final Video:

[hover_box image="4452" image_hover="4453"]

Getting Started with Rhino:

As I primarily use 3DsMax, Rhino 5 is quite a shock to the system. Rhino 5 is an advanced bit of modelling software that is ideally suited for creating abstract shapes and designs that retain advanced editing capabilities using NURBS and other similar features. It also has advanced parametric design plug-ins like Grasshopper which is covered in the following tutorial.

A way to get started in Rhino is very similar to AutoCAD. We can start by typing ‘Curve’ to begin drawing a smooth polyline. We then simply click in the viewport where we want to place each point and the software will calculate the smooth curves automatically. To finish the curve we simply right click.

From here we can modify the curve in 2 ways, the first is to simply click the curve and type ‘PointsOn’. This shows the original points we added allowing us to modify the curve. To move this point in 2 dimensions on the grid you simply click the white point and click and drag to move it around. To move this point in 3D space you select ‘Gumball’ from the bottom menu, which brings up a 3D gizmo.

The second method, if your curve has too many or not enough editable points you can select the line and type ‘Rebuild’. This brings up a window requesting a new point count and degree. The points will increase the number of points on the curve while trying to retain the shape as much as possible, where as the Degree field will retain the number of points but increase/decrease the distance of the control points from the curve.

When we have 2 curves that run that run more or less parallel we can sweep a path to create a surface between these 2 lines. To make this more interesting with a curved surface we can create another curve that connects the 2 start points of the existing lines. To do this select ‘Osnap’ in the bottom of the menu and click on ‘End’ to enable snapping. Then draw a curve from one line to the other.

With three lines we can now type ‘Sweep2’ and follow the instructions in the command line. You first select the line you want to sweep the surface along (the first line you created) then select the second line parallel to it, finally select the connecting curve and press enter. This sweeps the shape along the 2 path lines creating a form.

Like AutoCAD there are a lot of similar features that can be applied to lines, like fillet, offset, tween and others. You also have the option to extrude the lines up to create vertical faces and from here you can extrude the shapes to create a 3-Dimensional shape. There is also the option to fillet tween and offset these 3D shapes too.

Creating a Façade:

One of the examples we walked through involved creating a curved faced with extra geometry. To do this we sweep the surface as above although this time before we start we type in ‘History’ and enable all the options except lock. This will mean once we have created the surface we can manipulate the original curves to auto update the surface. If we skip this step it will create its own points which can make it very difficult to manage.

With a curved surface created we can type ‘CreateUVCurv’ Which will create a flat copy of the surface, then we can draw on our cuts or geometry onto the flat surface. We then apply the geometry onto the surface using ‘ApplyCrv’. From this we can slice, extrude and modify the surface to make it look more like a façade.

Creating a Bench:

The final activity was to create a bench from a set of lines imported from AutoCAD. To Start we take the primary outline and extrude it up, from the extruded shape we must first convert the surface degrees to U:3 and V:3. To do this select the shape and goto Surface Tools and then the ‘DEG’ Icon. Then set the U to 3 and press Enter then set the V to 3 and enter.

Following this you can rightclick next to the Curve Tools and goto Toolbars and click on Point Edit and Select Points. On the Point Edit toolbar select the ‘+’ Symbol and you can now add additional lines into  the surface. By typing PointsOn you can now manipulate the NURBS points to make this shape more interesting.

To create the bench you can just repeat the above pushing and pulling on points to create the bench. You can also make the bench more detailed by repeating the above step by UV mapping the surface and adding additional curves and shapes onto the surface using either ‘FlowAlong’ for 3D items and ‘ApplyUV’ to add geometry.

Rhino uses its own scripting language to create and develop shapes. Grasshopper is a plugin that adds a graphical interface to the scripts. It allows you to build up a node based scripting system. It has its own saving system and therefore you are required to save the Rhino and grasshopper files separately.
To launch It type Grasshopper, you can add a point in the window and grasshopper and connect the command to the point. From there you can add a line command to connect 2 points.
Helpful tip: Ctrl + Alt + left click on any node to highlight where it is located within the toolbar. Alternatively if you know the name of the command you can double click within the canvas and type the command you need and it will suggest the node.

Another interesting tool within Grasshopper is the BiArc command, which can create an arc between 2 lines with a dividing point controlled by a variable slider. It is then possible to Loft ‘Add a surface’ and join the result.

This tutorial will work towards developing an architectural tower with adjustment controls that will allow every aspect of the tower to be manipulated at any time. This is a very helpful feature for retaining as much information to allow tweaks and changes later in the process.

To create an ellipse in Grasshopper, select the ellipse tool from from the primitive tab, and click the insertion point on the canvas. Then create an XY Plane node and link it to a central point. Insert 2 sliders one to the P1 Elipse command and the other to a function command with ‘X*Y’ which then links to the P2 Command. It is also necessary to link the first slider through the function. (See Figure 10)

The next stages we created a second ellipse and a slider to set the height and top of our tower, this was done by duplicating the previous task and remove the reference to the original point. This ellipse will instead get its height from the slider and position from the original point. This allows you to move the tower and everything else will move relative to that point. To rotate the ellipse another slider can be added along with a radian converter.

To add more interest to the tower we add a 3rd ellipse that can be moved within the ground and roof plane. This also has a rotation aspect to create further customisation. This is then finished off by evaluating the geometry separately for each of the ellipse’s and ‘Weaving’ them all together through a rail revolve command.

Grasshopper comes in most useful when taking this simple extrustion geometry and creating a parametric surface that wraps around the surface. It can be used to create windows, extrusions and patterns in each face of the tower, while retaining the information to make rapid changes to the quantities and look.

Stage one: getting data
For education use, data can be downloaded from Digimaps, for use within ArcGIS. Knowing how much data to download can be key, it is important to know what to download as excessively large files will not only slow down the system, if it was for use in a professional environment, it would be very expensive. A note for using GIS is that the file system cannot accept spaces writhing the file names, therefore from the start it is important to locate the save files within a root directory with no spaces.
For GIS it is important to download:
  • Topography
  • Building heights
  • OS Terrain 5 DTM
The formats to download files in would be firstly File Geo Database then SHAPE AND finally GML2/3. The software works around get-referencing and so you locate the position on the earth and locate your data onto that point. This allows you to collate data from historic maps showing periodic change over time up to your modern day OS Maps. To merge images together in GIS you use a mosaic command. GIS will automatically generate its own additional files which would normally contain the world coordinates, these files are normally .TFW or .JPW. In working with GIS it is imperative that you keep to a structure file systems and put your files in a consistent location.
We have been provided with a sample set of files as part of this course which we will be using for the following activities. So using the files provided we will start by opening ARCCatalogue. You can connect to the saved files by selecting the ‘Connect to Folder’ icon in the top left. You can then select the GIS folder wishing the root drive on the USB. Firstly we will start by making a new geo-database to store information. Then we will go to preview some of the existing data that has been downloaded. You can do this by navigating to the mastermap-topo, into the geo database and then selecting the preview tab above the main window. From here you can select any of the components within the database. The data can be previewed either through a graphical display or table display. The table display allows you to sort this data. You can also view all of the saved information about versions etc by using the ‘I’ button.

To start populating our geo database, the best way to move data from what we downloaded is to right-click on our new database and import > Feature Class (single). Alternatively copy and paste the info you need. To copy historical maps or image files you import a raster image instead.

Starting in ArcMAP, we can see it has a very similar interface. We open a blank file and then need to start adding layers. If we hover over ‘Catalogue’ on the right hand side we can see the file explorer and file database. By navigating down to the pre made file system we can see a range of files including clips and mosaics. It is important to right click on each of the datasets and ensure all of the files point to a British National Grid spacial reference.
Then you can drag and drop each layer you want including contours and master maps. We can re-arrange the layers. First go to customise > extensions and check all of the boxes. Then  we can go to the toolbox icon and see all the available tools. For this demo, we go to Surface > Contour. Then we can input the data we need to create a contour map, the DTM Map, the output file and finally the contour interval. This then creates a new layer with lines around the contours. We can annotate this with the heights by double clicking the layer name and selecting labels.
You can view custom levels of data by going to Selection > Select attributes, you then double click the theme, then =, inland water, or your chosen layer. Finally to export this you go to right click on the layer > Data > Export Data and select the catalogue, alternatively export as cad.
There is a layout tab at the bottom in which you can acces templates or create your own to print files. This can be edited just like autocad ready to be printed with a legend scale etc.
Finally ArcScene
For the buildings you go to the properties, extrusion and add a command [relh2] *1
To export … File Export scene > 3D
Crop > Clip
Merge > Mosaic
Vector > Feature Class

If you have access to a 'Google Cardboard' Headset, you can view my sample model by clicking here:

Waypoints is an early access application that allows you to bake a 3D model ready for export to a VR headset. It works by baking all of the materials and lighting from a model into a simple model that is easy to handle on a lower power device through a VR headset.

Within the application you can modify basic settings including the background, camera locations and positioning. It is then possible to export the html to a file which can be accesses from a phone for use in a VR headset.
In blender first thing we change is the basic settings by going to file > user preferences:
Interface > Zoom to mouse position and Rotate around selection
Input > select with left
Addons > import-export > select all the boxes
Blender is an open source modelling and animation software which is free to use, making it a good platform for using with virtual reality as app developers have access to the root code for manipulating apps to work with it.
Getting started with the interface in blender we start with a cube and go to View > Properties which allows us to change the scale position and size with exact integers.
To edit the cube we can go into edit mode from the bottom toolbar, then from the tools bar on the left we can modify the cube, first we subdivide the cube to increase the number of faces, then we can select a face by selecting the face tool on the bottom. From here we can extrude and adapt the cube further.
To then smooth the surface we can add a subdivision surface from the spanner icon on the right. And add multple effects and apply them.
To add materials we go to the sphere on the right hand row of icons having selected our pavilion and select a new material and add new diffuse BSDF which is a stand material that allows you to add a bump, reflection and other effects. With the model and materials sorted we can add a scene light and make it rectangular.
To change the output setting you click the camera icon and change the render samples to around 50 and increase until you get a decent finish. To export it you first select everything by pushing B and highlighting everything, and then go to Tools > Join. Everything should be one object except the light.
To create a texture map you push space and type smart uv project, then okay. To see the uv map in the bottom left select the 3D view icon and UV\image editor and new.
Then click the bottom icon again and node editor. This shows you a node breakdown of all the materials which can be selected from the material tab on the right hand side.
Then Add > Texture > Image Render, ensuring you are on cycles render. On the node that opens up click the image and select untiltled. Repeat this for all materials and this should add each material to the image editor.
To bake the textures you select the camera and go to bake at the bottom and bake. You can then save the image from the image apeditor and export the png and also the obj of the model. You can drag both of these into the waypoints editor.

See the final animation below

For the final submission we had the choice between preparing a 1 minute animation, 3 Still Renders or a physical model. As a unit 15 member I naturally chose the animation. However as I am a part-time student and do not already have a project, it has been through this animation that I have developed my story.

It started out as with the idea of a ‘Post-Human’ Revolution. Where the humans of today follow in their monotonous routines of marching to and from work, in this case the Palace of Westminster. It is here that the revolution starts, as you enter into the main hall the marching stops and you transcend out of the grey outdated human form and are delivered into a new digital life, not constrained by the boundaries set by our mortal existence.

The film at this point becomes first person, where your existence is about the sights and sounds around you. You watch as the revolution expands out from the tower and spreads around the world almost instantaneously. This is the singularity, where time is no longer a constant but becomes a single point in time where anything is possible.

The Making Of:

The first task to decide the steps I will take through the animation, is to design the robot character. To make my time more efficient I start out by modelling a low poly version of the robot that I can use for modelling and animating all of the scenes I require for the animation. Later on in the process I will be able to model my final robot and replace the low poly version quickly. I do this within 3ds max and use a basic bone structure and a CAT rigging system which allows me to apply realistic movements tracked from real people and motion. I simply have to model the constraints to ensure the robot is not stretching like skin would.

With the robot designed I first design some of the simple sets like the bridge, they cross at the start, to keep the render times to an effiecient speed I have modelled a mix of realistic stones and the railing to the bridge with some very basic forms with displacement maps applied. This allows me to also add a water look between the brick pavement.

The next main scene is inside the Palace of Westminster. Rather than using a photograph I have chosen to model the detail of the inside of this main hall to give me maximum freedom over the camera angles and choice of views. This was done in 3ds again and the robot has been imported to create the entry screen with the door closing, the light effects and colour grading was done in after effects. The same scene is also the start of the singularity where this glowing form takes over the central hall. From this point you are no longer looking at the robots moving around but you become the new form of human entity looking at everything in first person. The goal for this scene is to open your eyes to the new forms, while you watch the form of the robot open up and network with the city.

The final 2 scenes zoom out from the human scale into the city scale and then planetary scale to show you the explosion of data and how the parliamentary building has used its position to the water and position of power to distribute this revolution of post humanism around the globe. The first scene is done in after effects using a video fly through taken from Google Earth and the second scene uses only after effects and image maps of the earth to create pixel effects of a revolving earth that shows the timeframe of growing data originating from London.

Meet Walter:

In preparing my animation for this Future Rep Module, I chose to 3D print the low-poly version of one of the characters. This has been built on a home-made 3D printer using PLA plastic on an FFD style printer.

Short Animations & Tests:

The Post-Human Revolution - Future-Representation (Final Submission)