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I have a fairly complex (400+layers) graphic I need to animate.

 

I've looked at After Effects, but while it is a stunningly capable app, it's very much overkill for my needs, and the learning curve is probably a month (along with the headaches).

 

I also looked at Principle and Flinto. Here you need Sketch as a bridge. Principle and Flinto are basically for animating transitions within mobile apps, or web applications. They work by artboards, where one artboard represents a frame. The problem is that they rasterise your content.

 

I hate seeing pixels now that I'm used to vector level definition!

 

There is also good old Flash Professional to consider.

 

Finally, I could simply animate a .svg with javascript. But I was kind of looking for a GUI app to make essentially doing the same thing easier.

 

My question: I'm looking for the easiest, most intuitive way to animate a layered vector graphic while retaining these elements as vector shapes, not rasters.

 

Does anyone have experience?

 

Please share your thoughts. Thanks.

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Well... The only existent "vector video format" (even though I'm not sure it could be defined this way) is SWF so, Flash animations.

I fear that you have to convert anything to pixels at the end of the process...  :)

 

Do you need to animate single spline nodes?

 

If not Apple Motion is very capable too, not as powerful as AE but definitely a choice and easier for sure.

Anime Studio another option, pretty easy, but too cartoon-oriented maybe?

 

Anyway my suggestion is... Go and hire a motion designer!  ;)

If you're not intended to grow as a motion designer too, and this is a spot-job I think it is the best choice to seek help from someone more skilled.

 

These my two cents.


The white dog, making tools for artists, illustrators and doodlers

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I fear that you have to convert anything to pixels at the end of the process...  :)

 

Indeed. The final output will be .gif. I'm just hoping to get there with the least drop in quality. In Principle app (which I think is not suited to my needs), you start with raster (and not what I would say is high quality). Ending with it would be fine.

 

Do you need to animate single spline nodes?

 

To be honest, I don't know what they are. It's basically a bunch of simple shapes. But there are a lot of them, and I need to carefully time their appearance and disappearance. And I'd like different ease-in and ease-out options. Grouping and grouped transitions would be great too. 

 

 

Anime Studio another option, pretty easy, but too cartoon-oriented maybe?

 

That looks great. What I need to do would be more like a cartoon than After Effects normally does. I'll try to see if there's a trial.

 

 

Anyway my suggestion is... Go and hire a motion designer!   ;)

If you're not intended to grow as a motion designer too, and this is a spot-job I think it is the best choice to seek help from someone more skilled.

 

I wish! But this is for my first Dribbble shot -- the initial "hello". So it would cheating in a way to not do it all myself. I've done basic .svg animations before, for the web. I was looking for a bit more control, especially given the number of layers. But I also need a manageable learning curve, because I was just drafted and I really should get on with it and say "hello".

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I do not believe Motion has ever supported a layered PDF file.  You can import a layered Photoshop file, it can be a little tricky, you have to get a pop-up window with options to import the layers.  Here is a link to an Apple Support article, https://support.apple.com/kb/PH16869?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US

 

The short answer is drag your file from the directory listing into the layers section. Do not release the file, but hold it until a pop-up window shows your options.

The article will also show you which attributes Motion will not support.

 

I do not believe Motion has ever supported SVG format.

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I would try exporting to .psd with the preset Final Cut Pro X. By importing that format in Motion through File > Import, you can choose importing All Layers … :)

 

Thanks. But my hope was to avoid rasterising my graphic. I know ultimately it will be rasterised (as a .gif), but I hoped there would be only one pass, in this sense. Instead of being converted to .gif from a raster.

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Yes, that is the case, unfortunately …  :(

 

Hmm … if you have Ill*strator as well, you might try to use the Motionize plugin by Scott Ash, as referenced in this thread:

 

https://forum.affinity.serif.com/index.php?/topic/4029-shape-export-to-apples-motion/?p=17840

 

The download link and the documentation:

 

http://scottash.com/motionize/

http://scottash.com/motionize-help/

 

I have no idea if that will make sense in your case, but maybe it helps …  :)

Alex

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Do any of these apps support importing vector objects while preserving the layer structure?

 

The only one I am familiar with is Anime Studio & the latest version I own is Anime Studio Pro 9.2. It will import svg files but everything comes in as one vector object.

 

Also, for what it is worth, I noticed that the specs for the current version (11) do not list svg as a supported input format, but I don't know if that is an oversight or what.


Affinity Photo 1.7.1, Affinity Designer 1.7.1, Affinity Publisher 1.7.1; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
Affinity Photo 1.7.1.143 & Affinity Designer 1.7.1.1 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iOS 12.3.1

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OpenTOonz! In the same league as ToonBoom, and recently got open-sourced. It supports vector animation (favours it, actually), and even sports excellent bitmap to vector conversion.

 

It's free, and I love it for 2d animation. Mind, OT's workflow may require some acclimatization. Worth it, though. OpenTOonz is a serious production-level animation package - used by Studio Ghibli and the makers of Futurama. Also works well with Anime Studio, Krita, and ClipStudio.

OT supports SVG import - although it depends on the complexity of the artwork how well this will work. I find importing high-res easter versions, and converting those to vectors in OT may work better in those cases.

 

https://opentoonz.github.io/e/index.html

Forum: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!categories/opentoonz_en

Tips worksheet: https://workflowy.com/s/JtI13Zub8a#

Manual: http://www.toonz.com/cgi-shl/download/71H/Toonz%20Harlequin%2071%20User%20Guide.pdf

Many video tutorials have become available:

vimeo.com/brundlethwaite/videos

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-t3I3gSAsZWsCvsxUkBZRA

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Just a quick update:

 

OpenTOonz I'm sure is a great and serious tool. But as a novice I find the interface as confusing / intimidating as After Effects. I couldn't work out how to import an .svg or .eps file. At least there seemed no apparent way to do it.

 

I also have no luck with After Effects. Trying to import as a Composition with layers preserved, I still don't see any layers. Just one flat image.

 

Anime Studio Pro has options for importing vector files, but when I tried I couldn't find any layers to work with, and it added a heavy stroke to many of the elements in my .eps file.

 

I set all of the above aside and did as A_B_C suggested and exported from AD as .psd and opened in Apple Motion. I see layers, but I cannot see how I can actually animate them. Watching a few YouTube tutorials, I started to question: am I supposed to now draw over elements in Motion (i.e., from within the app) and apply animation effects to these "masks"?

 

I have around 400 small dots in this graphic, as well as other things. Some of the dots are very small. They're also geometrically aligned. I'm hoping I don't have to redraw all of them.

 

I'm probably as dumb as a brick, but I'm really surprised that it's proving as difficult to animate a layered vector file.

 

As for Flash, there's no way I can see to import a .svg or .eps file either. Which is just weird given that .svg is a native output format of Flash.

 

In short, I'm struggling.

 

 

p.s., I should add that in After Effects, it seems to convert the vector file you import to bit map. At least in the main viewer, if I scale up it's horribly pixelated.

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Have you looked at or considered : http://tumult.com/hype/

 

I am not sure if it fits your needs, but it is worth checking it out.

 

-R

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Well, it is a little difficult to give a more substantial hint or advice without actually knowing how your animation is supposed work. What kind of transformations are you interested in? What should happen with your dots?  :)

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Hype doesn't allow importing layered .svg or other vector files, unfortunately. I could use something like Sketch to generate individual .svg's for each layer, but in pulling these into Hype I'd have to reconstruct the graphic in terms of layout. The problem is that I have 400+ dots in a geometrical pattern.

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Well, it is a little difficult to give a more substantial hint or advice without actually knowing how your animation is supposed work. What kind of transformations are you interested in? What should happen with your dots?  :)

 

yeah, I can imagine. To be honest, I don't want to do anything too fancy. Simple (but elegant) fade in and fade out would be mostly enough. Maybe with one final group transition. So imagine 20 vector dots. Each fading in in sequence. This is the main part.

 

At present I have vector layers in Motion. I'm just trying to figure out how to actually animate them. Any animation effect. When I get on top of that, I'll go from there. It's just a bit confusing because applying behaviours is not currently doing anything.

 

I'll keep going. It's probably just because I don't know the app. I'm looking at YouTube tutorials, trying to find something useful and close to what I'm trying to do.

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Hype doesn't allow importing layered .svg or other vector files, unfortunately. I could use something like Sketch to generate individual .svg's for each layer, but in pulling these into Hype I'd have to reconstruct the graphic in terms of layout. The problem is that I have 400+ dots in a geometrical pattern.

 

Yah, that won't work for your application unless you got time to burn. Sorry! Well it could be a nice alternative for future projects I guess. 

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@ronniemcbride Just from a quick look, it's the most intuitive for simple animations (or ones you can easily reconstruct). I think layered .svg's are in the development pathway, at least according to their forum, so maybe in a future release what I want to do now would be easier.

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Unfortunately, I have the German version of Motion, so the terminology might be different. It sounds as if you would like to work with keyframes and transitions between keyframes in the first place. In that case, you would need to have a look at the Keyframe Editor and the available animation parameters …  :)

 

I would browse the help files for the different animation types that are available in Motion. And there is also a comprehensive manual for Motion 5.2 on the iBooks Store:

 

http://www.apple.com/support/motion/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id976299465?mt=11

 

Hope that gets you started …  :)

Alex

post-1198-0-97238800-1463515251_thumb.png

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Anime Studio Pro has options for importing vector files, but when I tried I couldn't find any layers to work with, and it added a heavy stroke to many of the elements in my .eps file.

That sounds like the same behavior I get with the older 9.2 version -- svg files are imported with all their layers collapsed into one complex vector object with no way to separate them into separate curves except by duplication & deletion of all but one curve in each duplicate. That's OK for files with just a few layers but obviously it isn't practical if there are lots of curves.


Affinity Photo 1.7.1, Affinity Designer 1.7.1, Affinity Publisher 1.7.1; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
Affinity Photo 1.7.1.143 & Affinity Designer 1.7.1.1 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iOS 12.3.1

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If you are familiar with Blender at all, then I that would be my recommendation, although the learning curve might be above the desired level.

If all else fails, I would suggest consider just using Affinity to make a series of animated raster outputs, and then use any editing program to make the series into a movie or animated gif.  You might group the project together, duplicate the group, adjust, and use the layered groups like an onion skin.  Then export each group separately to a sequenced file name, import into GIMP for example and create an animated GIF.  I like GIMP's method of making an animated GIF file, and there are some good tutorials on YouTube.

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I would browse the help files for the different animation types that are available in Motion. And there is also a comprehensive manual for Motion 5.2 on the iBooks Store:

 

http://www.apple.com/support/motion/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id976299465?mt=11

 

Hope that gets you started …  :)

 

Thank you, Alex. I've downloaded the Motion User Guide and will try to figure things out. The problem, in a way, is that what I want to do is not really what Motion was designed to do, so there's very little on it in the support community page, or elsewhere.

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If you are familiar with Blender at all, then I that would be my recommendation, although the learning curve might be above the desired level.

If all else fails, I would suggest consider just using Affinity to make a series of animated raster outputs, and then use any editing program to make the series into a movie or animated gif.  You might group the project together, duplicate the group, adjust, and use the layered groups like an onion skin.  Then export each group separately to a sequenced file name, import into GIMP for example and create an animated GIF.  I like GIMP's method of making an animated GIF file, and there are some good tutorials on YouTube.

 

Blender is high on my list of apps I'd love to vaguely become proficient in.

 

Your other suggestion is probably, in actual fact, the far quickest way. I'm persevering in the hope of picking up the beginning of a new skill.

 

The easiest way for me would be using the Snap.svg javascript library. But with so many layers I was hoping to take advantage of something with a GUI.

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