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After Effects - Animated Infographic Video & Data Visualisation

How to manually make an animated bar graph in After Effects

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, it is time to visualize data. We're going to start with Bar Graphs. We'll start with this one where we manually do it in After Effects. Then we're going to switch out and do it from Illustrator using its graphing tool, making it a little more accurate. And then going out to Excel for the Excel people who want to animate charts directly from Excel in After Effects. All right, let's go and make these beautiful graphs.

The first thing we're going to show you is, we're going to manually do the Bar Graph in After Effects. Actually we're going to get it started. Why? Because there's times when we just need to do that. And you might find that that's the nicest way for you. So let's go to 'File', let's go to 'Open'. I have kind of done some basic stuff to get us going. So go to the 'Exercise Files', '03 Bar Graphs'. And there's this one called 'Bar Graph - Start', open that up. And I want you to be on this one. There's the finished version, and the start version. So the finished version is what we're going to be working towards, but we want to go to the start version. And I've just kind of laid out the title, and these axis in here.

We're not going to go through how to add these. It's just the Pen tool, and the Type tool. But it can take a little while to get going. So I'm going to make sure I can see the whole thing under Fit. So the first thing I'd like to say is that this way can feel a little bit long. And I don't like it mainly because I find it very hard to calculate percentages, and do the Math myself. We're going to look in the next one how to use something like Adobe Illustrator or use Excel itself to generate the graph. All of them take a little bit of work. So have a look at all three, and go, "That's the one I feel like."

So what I want to do is put our Play Head at the beginning here. And I've locked all these layers, so we can't mess with them. Let's grab the rectangle tool. In terms of Fill, I'm going to use my Eyedropper and pick one of the colors that we did in the last tutorial. I'll go for the lighter version. In terms of the Stroke, hit the word 'Stroke', and let's set it to 'None'. Up to you. When you first start setting up your Axis, what I did is, when I drew these lines here I actually matched them to the Grid. So if you go to 'View', 'Show Grid' you can actually draw lines and then get them to line up to this grid in the background. It helps us a little bit when we're drawing out the Bar Graphs.

So I've got it on now. I'm just going to make sure 'Snap to Grid's on as well. So I'm going to try my best, because this is going to be my 100%. Now it is a little funny in terms of drawing. That's close enough to me. Grab the Selection Tool. I'm going to drag it down so it's on the right kind of cubes. We have to zoom a little bit just to make sure. Snap to the bottom, snap to the top.

Next one, I'm just going to kind of line it up here. So, the first thing we're going to do is-- it's going to be quite easy, we're just going to animate it up. Now, the problem is the Scale Position. If I can click on my Layer here, actually 'Rename', 'Shape Layer 1', let's call this one 'Bar 1'. And I'm going to hit 'S' for Scale. And if I start scaling it, it's doing it from its center anchor point which is in the middle of the screen. We've run into that problem a few times.

What we're going to do is actually adjust the center. Grab this one here, the 'Pan Behind' tool or the 'Anchor' tool, and grab this. Now if you can't see it, sometimes you have to click off, click back on, and grab this. Now, we want it to be perfectly down the bottom here. So what key do we hold down? It's the 'Command' key on a Mac, or the 'Control' key on a PC. And that should snap to the center, down the bottom here.

Now when I start doing Scale, it's going to do it from the center of this. Awesome, so I'm going to turn the Grid off, because it hits my eyes. And what we're going to do is make sure our Play Head's at '1'. Hit the 'Scale'. We're going to break this link, so that we can separate the height and width. And we're going to play around with… which one? It's this one here, we're going to set the second to '0'. Come along a little bit. I'm at 7 frames. And I'm going to set it up to 100. So we've got our first little Bar Graph animation. I know that that's correct because I set this axis. This is my highest milligram value. So this is going to match it, and everything else is going to be a percentage of this. That's where I run into trouble myself, and I'm like "All right, Maths, not good." So I'm going to use some of the other tools to do it but you might be totally fine in here.

So we're not going to carry on too much and do every single one of them because it's step and repeat. But what you do is, you copy Bar 1, you got Bar 2. And I'm going to make sure I've got my right tool. Selections tool, I'm going to step along a little bit, so that it starts a little bit off, or after this one here. And then I'm going to grab my Selection-- actually I'm going to use this one here. Use Position, and just slide it along. The wrong way, this way here, to the above filter. And in here we need to go to our Scale. And we need to calculate what this 'Filter' is compared to 'Brewed' being 100%, and 'Filter' is—

I've got some data here for us. So Filter is-- if that's our main 100%, we need to calculate that. You can use this data here to go off and finish completing the Bar Graph. Couple of little just tidy up things we do before we go. I'm going to bin Bar 2. Here would be a good time to go through. Select these two guys here. We're on Scale, remember, hold 'Alt' on a Mac or 'Option' on a PC. Okay, it's the opposite of what I just said. It is Alt on a PC. And grab, remember, our Expression. Come to here, delete him, paste it. And we'll get just a nicer Bar Graph going up. And also you can turn on the Motion Blur. And make sure the Motion Blur is on this layer. And things start looking a little nicer. Nice.

So, it's not all lost because that same technique of putting the anchor point down the bottom here, I'm getting him to bounce. It's going to be what we need to do still when we're using either Excel or Illustrator. So let's go and learn those other options in the next video.