Tutorial #1: Plan Animations


download door GIFs        download wall.jpg         AfterEffects screenshot

So you want to create animations that bring architectural drawings to life?

Well, you've come to the right place!

Here's a bit of background: in case you haven't noticed, most plans don't move. No one knows exactly when the first plan was drawn, probably by a caveman or cavewoman. Somebody has probably written a dissertation on the history of architectural plans and I'm sure that there are many fascinating aspects regarding the relationship between drawing and building. In today's fast-paced world, plans are usually drawn on a computer and then printed on paper with ink, which is then delivered to a contractor like a set of instructions. My intuition tells me that perhaps in the future when we are all effortlessly sliding around advanced abstractions on our crystalline glass gel interfaces that are connected directly to our brains or something, the whole idea of what a plan is may be fundamentally different. That may be thinking too far in the future, but it's useful to think about where things are going. This is more of a humble step, simply animating plans. A door is one of the only architectural elements that actually moves although when you think about materials on an atomic level, everything is moving all the time. This is one of the ancient secrets passed down by the ascended masters: everything is vibration and energy. You know those waves coming out of the Modulor Man's feet and up to the sky? That's energy. Architects must understand this in order to manifest their dreams. Isn't that the whole point of Architecture, to bring dreams into reality? Well, there have been several dialectical reversals of this conceptual process, from Marx's "everything solid melts into air" to whatever other materialist critique you can think of. I mean, let's be honest, some people's dreams probably shouldn't materialize on the physical plane. Therefore one of the Architect's primary responsibilities is to determine which dreams shall enter reality and which dreams shall remain in the domain of the imagination.

Alright so you have your swinging door GIFs and your wall.jpg now. What do you do now? I use Adobe AfterEffects: some old version that I've had since like 2010. Oh well, it works. OK, start a new project, make it like 1600x1600 pixels or something around there. I think Instagram's standard resolution is 1280x1280 but who knows, it'll probably increase in the future. Think of your plan animation as a small movie that loops forever, so set your movie length to 3 or 4 seconds. Now set the background color to a tasteful pastel or off-white, or just leave it white, or black, i honestly don't care.

OK, so now just literally drag in the doors into the project and start scaling them and moving them around. Set them up in a grid. Arrange them in a circle. Just make sure that they end up how they started so your video loops forever. People love that stuff. Now throw in some walls and apply the "wave warp" effect or any other effect that comes with standard video editing software. One note: wall.jpg has a white background so you will have to set the layer to "multiply" to make the background transparent. Maybe your walls will disappear or reappear, or rotate or scale. Anything can happen! You have to think of new things that I haven't thought of yet, that's the whole point of this. Maybe your walls are bendy like Gumby walls, or rotate like intricate futuristic machinery. You have to get good at setting keyframes for rotating, scaling, or moving objects.

Anyways I know this tutorial wasn't very good and I'm sorry but if you have any questions please email me at info@trees.studio and I will try to help you. I'm not a teacher and I'm not really involved in academia, I'm just a guy that makes stuff on a computer.

If you manage to make something cool, post it to Instagram and make sure to tag me: @treero so I can see it.

This concludes tutorial #1.