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After Effects - Animated Infographic Video & Data Visualisation

How to create an animated flow chart infographic

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this video we're going to use Excel to build this kind of relationship model here, plus look at the hundreds of other ones it does really amazingly, and then look to animate it in After Effects, like this. Look at us. And they pop up. Still going. Wait for the last bit, because it's good, watch. And watch him go. So that's going to be it. Let's go and make that now in After Effects.

So the first thing we need to do is, we need to create our Art work in Excel. So we're going to be working with this stuff in '06 Process & Relationship'. There's one called 'UX Workflow'. Now a really cool feature in Excel-- by the by, I've got a course on Excel, if you really want to get into Excel. But it's really simple obviously, what we're doing right now. I've got kind of five things that's going to match my UX Process Dialogue. I've selected it all, and it's very similar on Mac and PC. Things are a little bit different at places. So select all of these, and let's go to 'Insert'. We're looking for this one called 'SmartArt', here it is there. Now there's lots of different options in here. And it's really great, like to have to recreate any of these in Illustrator, or in After Effects, which would take forever. These things here, they might not be styled to your liking but we can make that happen, there's really good stuff in here. So, up to you which one you want to work through.

You can see, there's lots in this. So where you're going to work through is the 'Relationship' one. And in this particular case, it's going to be-- and when I say Relationship, I mean Process. We're going to use this little arrow one here. Lots of different options, we'll use this one. Cool thing about this-- and if you click this side here, you can enter our Data in. When I said select that stuff at the beginning, it does nothing. So we're going to use it to copy and paste from. Copy you, click on this, click on this guy, '1'. This guy, copy, and you get the idea. Here we go with the third one. The problem is we've only got three but it's really easy obviously to add one of these '+' buttons here. So you, 'Test'. You can see it's kind of shrinking to fit in here. We'll adjust that in a second as well as we get all of our bits in here.

Quick thing is you can move them up and down, they're in the wrong place. And what we want to do, because we want this quite big in Illustrator, we are going to turn that back in there. And then drag it over here, and make it nice and big. If you're happy with the Styling, you can go ahead and do this now, but just re-size the box, nice and big. I'm going to go through and actually Style it a little bit. What I want to do is play around with the colors. So, with SmartArt, along the top here, you've got these extra features that appear when you got it selected. So make sure you got any part of it selected, you go to 'SmartArt Design'. You can pick some of the other defaults for Relationship. And the colors along the top, I just want this first one. It's kind of like flat with a white Stroke around the outside. 'Colors'. It's actually not so bad, there's not too big ones here in Excel. You can go and change these if you like, by selecting one of them, change colors. And you can 'Recolor Picture in Graphics'. You can spend a bit more time Styling it, I'm happy with this little mock up.

One thing I'm not happy with is the Fonts. So I'm going to click off, click on this. And I've got like nothing selected, just clicked on the edge here. And I'm going to go back to Home, and pick a Font. In my case I'm using 'Roboto Slab'. Cool, they all kind of fit in there. And I think that is it, you can do some adjustments. It doesn't really matter if you do it here, or in Illustrator. Do it in whatever you're most comfortable with. If you're an Excel whiz, do it here, if you're not, you can do it in the next step in Illustrator. To get into Illustrator, just click anywhere around the edge, hit 'Copy'. And then open up Illustrator, make a 'New File'. Let's make it our HD size, so 920 x 1080. Everything's going to be great. Make sure it's 'RGB Color', click 'Create'. Hit 'Paste'. And the cool thing about it is, it's kind of Vector. What we'll need to do is—

I'm going to zoom out so I can see the whole page. So it's better to get it positioned in here before we Reposition in After Effects. So that's kind of it, I might want to make it a bit bigger. So, what I need to do is, right click, and 'Release Clipping Mask'. Some of the other ones we did earlier was, we right clicked it, and went 'Group'. And what we want to do is, now that it's-- just check that it's all kind of in pieces. Couple of things I want to do, there's like a line around the outside, I want to get rid of all those. It can be hard to select, go away, just the white Stroke, you might like it. So, what I need to do is move all of these on to their own Layers, like before. 'Layers' Panel, I'm going to have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The number we've got, '1' Layer here. This first Layer, always never use it. There's always junk on there we don't need when you're copying and pasting from Excel. So it's best to like, grab this guy, make sure you've got it all. And remember, twirl him down. And this guy here, I'm going to just drag it to this Layer1, Layer2, sorry. Did I get everything? Turn it on, and off, we didn't. Put it in this. I'm undoing. So I've got everything selected here. Actually I'm just clicking over here, so got everything? Yes. So it's these two I need, you, on to that Layer. Now that looks good. And I'm just going to work my way through these two. I'm selecting them so I can see them in the Paths here. There they are there. And you, and you. Fun times... Can you see, I've got everything I need, but what is this stuff left over? Who knows, junk, so I'm going to bin that Layer.

Now I should go through and rename all these to match them as one Object to one Research. That would be clever. I am lazy. One thing I will do though is, I've used the Font, I've used Roboto Slab. Now, if you're passing this on to other people to use, or you know it's going to be used amongst a bigger group of people, and you know they're probably not going to have the Font, I tend to select them all, go to Object, no, go to 'Type'. And go to the one that says 'Create Outlines'. At the moment it's editable Type. And people need the Font for that to work. I'm just going to go to 'Create Outlines'. All it does is-- that's not an editable Font anymore, you can't spell check it, you can't do anything. So be careful, you might do a 'Save As'. I'm doing it for this, so that you can cheat, and maybe jump the Excel part of this course. And you'll be able to just download the ai file.

Because you probably won't have Roboto Slab, these are just few shapes you can start using. So I'm going to 'Save' it. I'm going to put it into my 'Desktop', 'AFX Files'. You my friend can go in there. I'm going to call this 'UX Relationship'. Here we go. They're all on their own Layers, Illustrator file. Now we can jump into After Effects and animate it. So we're in After Effects, and we're just going to animate it. Like you've downloads of things so far if you've been following through this tutorial. So pick whatever you like. I'm going to do a little method that you saw at the beginning there. And I'll show you some kind of tricks for copying and pasting Keyframes. So, it's worthwhile watching it. But you might have been in this, and just go like "Damn you, Dan, I'm going to do Scale, or Overshoot, or something like that."

So I've got a New Project open. I'm going to bring in my Illustrator file. It's on my 'Desktop', 'AFX Files', 'UX Relationship'. Remember, 'Composition', yours is probably set to 'Footage'. Go to 'Layer Size', click 'OK'. So it's made a Comp for me. How long is that Comp? Whatever the last thing I did, it's matched that. These are all my Illustrator files. So I'm going to double click it to open it. So here they all are, lined up nicely. I'm going to turn my Preview back to 'Full'. So it previews nicely for you. The next thing we want to do is add our Audio. Because we're going to be timing it to a voice over. So there's no point trying to do it without it. So let's bring it in. It's in our 'Exercise Files', it's in '06 Process & Relationships'. There's an Audio file that I've made for you. You can listen to more of me. I'm going to add it to my Timeline.

Now the thing is that your Timeline's probably only like, maybe 5 seconds because it was probably based on the last thing you did. Whenever you're making a new Comp it just remembers the last thing you've done. Because I was practicing this exercise for you guys before this, I set it to the exact time I need. So, let's say that hasn't happened. We need to make sure the Comp is long enough to be able to hear all the Audio. And the way to do it is to click on this, and say it's '20:12'. 20 seconds and 12 frames. So what we do is we click on 'UX Relationship', or to click down here, and go to 'Composition', 'Comp Settings' and make it the right link there, can you see, '20:12'. So just make sure it's the longest so you can hear everything, including the last bit.

So now we need to animate it. And this is the thing where we're going to learn a few little tricks. So now we need to-- actually let's put in our music as well. I find adding music earlier on is really important because often you can keep pace with it. You're kind of like timing it to the music so don't underestimate having music in, it's not just for the end, so pick something. What did I decide on? I can't remember. All right, so that one's going in, checking at the bottom there.

So couple of things we need to do. We need to figure out how loud the music is versus the voice over. So first thing, I'm going to mute the background music. Go to my voice over. And I'm going to open up 'Audio', hit 'Play'. So I can only hear this. It's clearly bouncing way too low, I need it to be up a bit higher. Well, clearly. It's clearly because I've looked at it before. So remember, -6 and -12 bouncing in there. It's a little high, but mainly bouncing between these two. That looks about right, so kind of nailed it. You know why, because I've already played around with this one. But you might have to raise yours and lower it to get it between those two.

In terms of the music now, I'm going to turn the volume back on. Hit the mute button there, hit 'Play'. You can't really hear it because you're hearing it through my mic. But it's competing, so it's quite loud. I'm going to lower it down. Too low. Too loud. Why am I doing it down there, and not up here? I don't know, kind of weird. It doesn't really matter if you do it there or, can you see, that we lowered this guy here by 3.3 There he is there. And we raised it by 3.3, and we minused this one here. I don't know why, that's weird. It's good to show you two ways of doing the same thing. Maybe just a little bit lower. Yes, that feels about right. Save it, and before we do animations, what we're going to do is we're going to mark our Sound thing. We did this, you saw it probably, a file that we imported way back earlier on in the tutorial series. There were markers along, so let's look at doing that for ourselves now.

So what I'm going to do is, to make it easier for ourselves, I'm going to open up this 'Layer' here, 'Audio', I'm going to go to 'Waveform'. And go along to-- what I'm looking for is to where 1, 2, 3, because if you listen you'll probably, when you're doing a tutorial, have a listen to the audio first, so it makes sense. That's me saying “One, we start with an objective,” and then a little further along, it says “Two, start the research.” So I'm going to add little markers here, on a Mac, it's 'Control 8'. I'm assuming it's something like Option, or Control, or Alt on a PC. I don't know off the top of my head, so you might have to guess it. You might have to work it out, it is under Markers, where is it? 'Add Markers', there. So go to 'Layer', and go down to 'Add Marker', and work out what the shortcut is. It's really handy to know the shortcut for this one. We just put it in manually, not the long way.

So there's my first Marker, I'm going to double click it. And this is going to be '1'. And I click 'Enter', you can see, a little '1' appears there. Kind of handy. Then I came along to “2, you do your research.” So that little hump there, that's why I have the waveforms down because you can actually start to see like there's a break 2. So I'm guessing probably that is 3, that's probably 4, maybe that's 3. But it does help you any way. So, shortcut on a Mac, 'Control 8'. Double click it, you are no. 2. There it is there, 3. 'Control 8', double click it. This is just so I can play with my-- save some time with my animation. 4, and this one here looks like 5. Oh, it's not in, finally 5 there. And last one, and you 5. Awesome!

Okay, so that's that… now we need to do the animation, so I'm going to twirl him up. And we'll start with Layer2. Even though it's our first one, we should have named them better in Illustrator. Now I've made my bed, and I'm going to have to live with weird naming. So what I want to do is, first of all is get them all to appear. Remember, they all slide in at the beginning there just to kind of settle themselves. It's called the Build, when they kind of get together at the beginning. So what I'm going to do is, do it to the first one, and then hopefully you can do some shortcuts. Actually what we're going to do is we're going to select them all. And we're going to click 'P'. Because we got them all selected and we've used our shortcut 'P', we got Position. I'm going to start the stopwatch on one of them. And they all start, we get a Keyframe from all so we can do some of this.

So after about half a second, there's one second there. And what you might have noticed in this tutorial if you're using them, and start to go from seconds where I can see seconds to frames. So it's 25 frames in a second, so it goes 15, 20, 1 second. It's just showing like millimeters. If that was centimeters, or feet, or inches instead of feet. So, about half a second, I'm going to put in a manual Keyframe because that's where I want them to end after half a second. At the beginning here, I want them all off screen. Now, we're going to have to do this all separately. You could just drag them all. We'll see how this looks a? All of them come off screen. You guys get off screen. I'm dragging, and after I start dragging, hold down 'Shift', it locks it into its place. It kind of works all right.

What I want to do is this though. So I'm at the beginning here, and I'm going to get you. Start dragging, hold 'Shift'. Click on this one, start dragging, where it's going all wiggly, hold 'Shift'. I'm going to kind of power them up so they start off screen. Just gives them a different pace when they come in. So now they all kind of fly in, they're different, slightly offset, see. And we're going to get them to stagger in. So I want them all to kind of just be a little bit after each other. Now you could go through, and just manually stagger these things. That would work totally. I'm going to select them all, and be a bit more professional about things. And right click one of them, go to 'Keyframe Assistant, 'Sequence Layers'. And I'll get them to overlap. Now it needs to be—

We know this thing was 20 and 12. So it will overlap back on itself completely. So we want to be maybe a few frames different. It seems all weird, I know, so it's that, minus the difference. You'll work it out. Have a little play around with it. Here you go, you can see, we're staggering them now and it's feeling a little bit better. What I might also do is, select them all, do my Easing. And… that's a little nicer. I probably want them to do a little bit-- I'm changing my mind and going back. And you're like, "Geez, get on with the tutorial, Dan." Sorry. So instead of 5, this one is 12. 5, maybe 8, it's a little, just a little stagger there. One thing it's missing is Motion Blur, so I'm going to turn it on for the Comp. And I'm going to turn it on for all the Layers here. How am I liking that? Yes, it's good.

Probably the thing annoying me the most is, no Easing. And I want to select you, hold 'Shift', click all of these guys, and adjust a bit. Taking too long. That's good now. So, Easing as well, select them all. 'Keyframe Velocity'. Now it's too fast. I'll move on, I promise. Okay, so they build in. Next thing I want to do is, when I start talking I want, when I say "One, you start setting your own objectives"… I know it's there, so what I want to do is-- we're going to look at something kind of, well, it's definitely new. So we're going to click off them all, no we'll turn them all on. So, actually this has got one first. So, Layer1 is my first, one objective. Now, when we were working before, we added a camera. And when we added a camera, we had to turn this little 3D thing on otherwise it can't be seen by the camera. And the camera freaks out a little bit. You can kind of use it without a camera as well.

So what happens is, if I click the little cube here the big difference is, watch this, so I'll twirl down this guy. He has a few settings, especially Position. He has just X and Y, he can go that way. And he can go that way. And that's it. But if you turn this on, he gets an extra dimension. He gets this, he has to forward back. Which is really cool because that's what we really want to do. We could use Scale, but Scale just doesn't work, watch this. Let's grab Scale for this guy, Scale him. And I can say, number 3, you're mock up, and bring it nice and forward. Problem is the Layer order. He's like-- the Layer order happens. That guy's always in front of him, and that guy's always behind him. If you want this guy behind him now, that's great until, you need now this guy to Scale up. You can't animate changing Layers. Because I want this guy to get bigger now, but this guy is always going to be in front of him. So Scale doesn't work. If that was a terrible explanation, just know that Scale doesn't work. But this little forward and back does, because, if I grab him and I turn this 3D on, and I say, you my friend have a position, you my friend, can go forward, but it's not going in front, it's because this guy—

They all need to be 3D. They want to be playing by the same rules like this guy here. He needs to know where he is. So then he can go forward, and he gets behind them, and back of them. So I'm going to undo until I didn't wreck this thing. I'm going to make sure 3D is on for all of them. So, just the little Layers there. And what we'll do, is this first Layer here come along. And just before it says 1, I'm going to get it to pop out. So I want Layer 2 selected, hit 'P' for Position. I'm going to-- he's coming along there, I want it to stay there. Because what people tend to do is they start doing this now, this one, bring it forward. The problem is that, from this Keyframe to this Keyframe, he just slowly creeps forward and it looks a bit weird. So what I want to do is put in a blank Keyframe, so between here and here, he does nothing. And then, when it gets to 1, I'm holding 'Shift' to lock to that Marker, which is handy. I'm going to get it to go forward a bit. Forward a bit, forward a lot. You can hold 'Shift' while you drag these things. Just makes them move in bigger chunks. And then you decide where you want it.

I'm going to probably put all of mine in here in the middle quite close to the camera. So it kind of does this. Here you go. That's all we're going to do. You can kind of hear in the background, I think. So we can do a little more of that. We're going to look at copying and pasting Keyframes, that's worth sticking around for. But the main thing of this one is getting stuff of that Excel, but then using this 3D without a camera. Just so you can get that extra dimension, push things in front of each other. So what are we going to do now? We're going to try and speed things up because putting a Keyframe every time is going to be a bit hard. So what we want to do is, just before 2 appears, when I start saying, when I want this 2 to appear, I want it to disappear. So, it's not about there. What I can do is I can put in a manual Keyframe. So that this pretty much picks up that one, copies it, sticks it there. So it goes nowhere. And then after a little bit of time, he's going to go back to its home base.

Now to try and calculate that is impossible. So all you do is grab that Keyframe, because right there, remember he was back at home. Then we made him big, moved him around here. But right there, he was where we wanted him. So, with it selected with my Selection tool click 'Copy'. So just 'Command C' on a Mac, or 'Control C' on a PC. Just the simple Copy. And then move along before we want him back. Make sure you got that Layer selected. And let's go 'Command V', or 'Control V' on a PC. He goes back to where he was, that's a really handy thing to know that you can copy and paste these Keyframes. So we're going to use that to our advantage even more.

So, where I want 2 to appear, so let's click on this guy, make sure he's all 3D. Hit 'P'. And what we'll do is we'll set a Keyframe. Because 2 is where I want it to appear so I want it to be a little bit back like this. And then, if you're finding it really hard just maybe move that back there. I'll find the window overlapping, especially when you're new. It's just a bit weird that that's happening at the same time. So, you there, Keyframe, is exactly where I need him to be. But then, when I said it were 2, I like him to be in the middle there. Now, I like him to be in the exact same position. And I can do that, and I can do that. And I can move him across. And to get him in the right spot again though could be tough.

Exact same trick as before, you can copy off different Layers. So I know, when my Playhead is right there that's when this guy was in the right spot. I want that guy to be there, we just click on the Keyframe, copy it. I'm going to move over there, make sure you click on this Layer, and hit Paste. Awesome! This goes there, you go there. Go along, and now it's going to be a bit of stepping and repeating. So I'm going to grab you. And then, before 3 appears, this can go back to its home base, which is that one. Copy and paste him. Pops up. And then, I'm going to twirl this Layer close just so—

We can just use Layer2 as our reference to steal that thing in the middle there. We're just going to try and keep it as tidy as we can. Layer4 selected, 'P', about there. I would to like to set a Keyframe. And then, definitely hit 3. I would like to copy this guy. Make sure you got the right Layer selected. And move along, about there. Put in our manual Keyframe. And this guy, copy him. Move him to up there, 'Paste'. You can get a bit of rhythm going. Copying and pasting stuff, at least everything lines up. You don't have to start copying and pasting these dimensions down here. I used to do it, it takes forever. So, 4 is this last Layer here. And I want to put a Keyframe in 4 position. Now you can skip, there's not going to be anything extra and nice. I'm just going to finish it off. You can hang around if you want.

You, copy, paste, make sure your Layer's selected, paste. Come along before 5 appears. Put in a manual Keyframe, so between here and here it does nothing. Then, I get him to go back to where it started from, go home. You, 'P'. Switches before 5. You can start there, there at 5. I'm going to get him to go to there. Click on the Layer this time, paste. And then it's up to you, I guess, till the end. Guess I can see when it finishes. So we were at the right spot. Put in a Keyframe, go. What I might do here actually is they're all going to zip off, so I might get this guy to zip off first. Now I'm just messing about. Adding my own sound effects. Gets there. I might get them all to now zap off, so you, Position. I'll get you to—

So what I need is-- I'm going to do all of this in one go. Trying to be all clever, really. 'P', so I can save them all. I'm going to put a Keyframe in for them all. I'm going to select them all first. So I've already got the first one, so I'm going to ignore him. I'm going to put a Keyframe in for them all. And then, I'm going to go, and get them all off screen. With this fella. So they are all there, and now they're all going to be off screen. Kind of like what I did in the beginning, or slightly different. We're going to the same place. And then I can't offset these. Can I offset these? Can’t think of a way anyway, so I'm just going to have them.

So who goes first, you go, then you go. Here you go. I talk to myself a lot. You can add your own UX rules at the end there. I've got a UX course as well, of course, I do. I love UX, UX Designer at least. Go check that out as well if you can. I love it. It's kind of cool, I've got a nice little kind of run off at the end there, like a little fish. Now you should totally leave now, and I'm just going to add the text at the beginning, just to fancy this up. So when they're all on, I'm going to add some Type. Click once. I'm going to call this one '5 rules of UX Design'. It's one of the courses, or one of the videos in my course. Sales, Dan, sales. …of a UX Designer. What am I going to do with this Type? First of all we need to select the top. I'll select all of these guys, get rid of them, click 'U'. 'U' opens them all up better, also closes them just to tidy them all up. And I'm going to get this guy to kind of come in once these guys have loaded.

So what I'll do is, I'll start on him a bit later. At the beginning here, I'll just Scale him in, because can't think of anything better. And after half a second, we'll get him to go to 100. And it goes… It's not very nice. That's all right, make sure that Motion Blur is on for it. And I will use my Expression, let's go find him. Found my Expression, hold down 'Alt', click him, or 'Option' on a Mac. Paste it in, see how we go for our little rebound. A little tighter. It's weird, once you add that Expression it needs a little bit of tightening up every time.

Now when I said there was no other thing, I'm going to do one other thing. It's that, this is too tight now, I need to lower this all down. Now if I move the Position, if I try to move the Position of any of these, I'm adding Keyframes, right? So things are going to do some weird stuff. And you're like, "How do I move them all down in one go?" You could Pre-comp them. Select them all, Pre-comp them, and then just lower the Pre-comp down. Or you can select all of these guys, and click 'A'. One of the options in there, so I twirl it down is Anchor Point, so 'Transform', 'Anchor Point'. Anchor Point, we don't use very much. We've reset it to get the rotation in the right place. So to make sure things are Scaling from the same throughout the bottom is if I click 'A' now, it's kind of like a separate position. It's kind of weird. I use this quite a bit. When I get to this point, I'm like, "Man, I don't need all of this moving" but I've used Position so many times, just use this. Like it's still, still thinks it's there, but you've moved the Anchor point, kind of tricking it, so it's a bit lower.

And this one here, click over there. So Anchor point can be a cool little, get all your job free card. You want to just make sure everything lines up. With a slight problem. Anchor point, move it up. Because it's using a 3D camera it kind of gets skewed, it's a bit different. So when I said this is a great, you know, all this is potentially a work around to save the day, It didn't quite work did it? Better? Yes, better. So what you do is, don't listen to me about Anchor point. That's still handy though, actually. We can right click it, and go to 'Pre-comp'. I'm going to call this one my 'Arrows'. And then the whole Pre-comp can come down. Just this little group, get inside of it, double click it. And they're all kind of still where they are. They should sill do their thing. Let's go back, close down the Arrow. Now, let's have a little look. You see, it didn't mess around with the 3D camera because they're all grouped inside of the other camera, still works.

All right buddies, that's going to be the end of this very long tutorial. Lots of just watching me work. But I hope you picked up a few things in that one. Especially because Excel's so awesome and making those, like Relationship models super quick, and super easy. And then you just got to animate them in After Effects by jumping through Illustrator. Bit of a hassle, I know, but that's the way we get it done. Let's go on to the next video.