After Effects: A Better Bounce

A lot of bounce expressions rely on either setting parameters like frequency and decay, leading to guess work for when bounces will end or how long they’ll last. Or the expression will settle the bounce on the last keyframe, giving you no real idea how fast the object will move before the bounce. This always bothered me.

Then this week on the Motion Design Slack group, someone was asking about getting bounce expressions to behave more intuitively. So I rolled up my sleeve and got to modifying an existing expression for inertial bounce (actually elastic). Here’s the resulting code:

bounces    = 4;     //total number of bounces
duration   = .25;   //duration of each bounce in seconds
amp        = .05;   //multiplier for incoming velocity used in bounce
decay      = 3;     //exponential decay of bounce height

mult = (bounces-Math.floor(t*freq))/bounces;
if (n>0 && mult>0) {
    v=velocityAtTime(key(n).time-0.001)*amp; //velocity to use
    b=Math.abs(Math.sin(freq*t*Math.PI))*Math.pow(mult,decay); //bounce calculation
} else {value;}

Now this won’t be physically accurate. Each resulting bounce would really be shorter in time as well. If that’s what you’re looking for, Dan Eberts has a physically accurate expression. And there’s many other bounce tools like After Ease, Ease and Wizz, and Duik. However, this will give you a specific number of bounces, a set time for each bounce, and take incoming speed from keyframes for the object. This works great as an ft-toolbar button or a Text Expander snippet.

AE Mini Tip: Color Control Layer

If you’ve worked on commercial project, you know there’s only one constant: change… especially at the last minute. One of the things that seems to frequently change is color choice. If you have a complicated AE animation and many layers that use the same colors, this can be a royal pain. You can reduce this pain if, from the beginning, you set up a color control layer.

[Note: this really only works well if you’re working on vector animations with single-color objects.]

First, set up an adjustment layer and add the “Color Color” effect found under “Expression Controls.” Do this for as many colors as you want.


I recommend naming the controls for the layers you will be coloring rather than the color itself.

Then, apply the “Fill” effect under “Generate.” Here, you can option-click (alt-click on PC) and drag the pick-whip (that little spiral button) to the color control in your color control layer.


Now, when the client comes back to you with the comment “The trees should be purple,” you won’t be cursing under your breath (as much).

Mograph Workflow for NY Times

With so many newspapers seeing decline in their physical circulation, it’s nice to see a paper like the New York Times embracing the flexibility of content that the Internet can offer.

Recently, their After Effects workflow was posted on It’s a little rough and they fully admit they’re new to the mograph game, but it’s always interesting to see how someone else works.

Now if only other papers would realize Internet distribution offers more than digital copies of their print.

Here’s the New Your Times’ demo reel:

3D Breakdown – Ice Age

ia3comparisonCaught this yesterday and forgot to post it. Jeff Gabor posted two quicktimes. First, a 4-screen breakdown of several character animations for the latest Ice Age movie: Reference, Blocking (rough animation), Splining (model refinements), and Lighting. The other is an evolution reel, from rough poses all the way through final polish.

They’re large quicktimes, so be warned, but it’s worth the wait to get a small glimpse at how complex 3D scenes are built. All too often, it seems animators and designers want to jump right in and work on the final product, skipping steps. This is a reminder that as with nearly everything, it’s best to start from a general, big picture perspective, then refine as you go along.

[via Motionographer & someone on Twitter, but couldn’t find it anymore]

25th Estate – This Is Where We Live

An amazing stop-motion piece by Apt Studio & Asylum Films for the Fourth Estate (blog) 25th anniversary. The attention to detail and simpe (yet encompassing) aesthetic have me watching it several times and still seeing something new.

For more information, visit (I especially recommend the videos page), the 5th Estate blog (not a typo), and the Apt portfolio & blog.

Without further adieu, 25th Estate (full screen recommended):

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

[shoutout to Tim H on Facebook]