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Blog . Little Lotus Trance

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Little Lotus Trance

02/24/14  |  Posted by Vanesa Jeric  |  Posted in Digital Creativity

Orchid Mania is happening now at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens! The exotic orchids are a welcome sight especially during these harsh winter months. CIA professor Kidist Getachew will be displaying her work in the Interior Design Showcase among other talented artists, so be sure to check out her space! The orchid show is one of my favorite events, so it was only fitting I do a short animation of an exotic flower. I often get asked how to have animation react to audio in After Effects. It's really simple to do with an expression that does all the work for you.

Keep it Simple

I created a simple white petal shape, that I filled with an abstract painting I did in Photoshop. I achieved the effect of the painting being punch through the petal shaped using a clipping mask. Repetition makes this simple animation look more difficult than it is. I keyframed one petal to rotate all the way around and copied and pasted the same layer, adjusting the rotation amount to form a flower.

Pre-Compose to Package

Pre-composing all my petals will collapse and package all my layers into a single composition that I can go back into and edit. I did this by selecting all the layers I needed, and in the top menu go to Layer > Pre-compose.

Turn Audio to Keyframes

I can make the animation even more sophisticated by bringing in some audio and have my blossoming lotus react to the rhythm. I imported a mix created by Steven Rawley, one of the freshman students here at CIA. His work is an eclectic mix of bass and beats that would create a trance-like vision. FInd more of his music here. I added the song to the timeline and will need After Effects to read it in keyframes. To do this, select the audio layer and go to Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Convert audio to keyframes.

Adding the Expression

Now let After Effects do the work for you! The elements that will change according to the music is up to you. You can have scale, color, opacity, time, etc. transform to the beat. Since I have such nice movement with the rotating petals, I am going to have time be my reactant. Select the composition and enable time remapping by clicking Layer > Time > Enable Time Remapping. A property named Time Remap will now be visible. This is what I need to add my expression to. Select the property and go to Animation > Add Expression. Paste the following code into the field:

thisComp.layer("Audio Amplitude").effect("Both Channels")("Slider")

Make the Connection

I'm going to parent my "Time Remap" property to the slider for "Both Channels" in my audio keyframes layer. Parenting happens when the spiral symbol is clicked and dragged up to another layer property. This connection is important, it tells my time remap keyframes to behave according to the keyframes in my audio layer. My little lotus now has a dance to it, if I stare at it long enough I go into a trance.

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