Animating Replicator Parameters

Most of the replicator and replicator cell parameters can be animated with keyframing or by using Parameter behaviors. If you animate the replicator’s shape-specific parameters such as Radius, Twists, and Offset (in a Spiral replicator), the pattern on which the elements are built is animated, not the elements themselves. To animate the elements of the pattern, you keyframe the parameters in the Cell Controls group of the Replicator tab (or in the Replicator Cell tab).

Keyframing the replicator parameters (or using Parameter behaviors) animates all elements in the replicator symmetrically. To animate the individual elements in sequence over time—without having to create keyframes—use the Sequence Behavior, described inUsing the Sequence Replicator Behavior. To animate the replicator using Basic Motion or Simulation behaviors, see Using Behaviors with Replicators.

Important: If you apply a Simulation behavior, or a Throw or Spin behavior, to a replicator with keyframed parameters, some of those keyframed parameters are ignored. For more information on using behaviors with the replicator, see Using Behaviors with Replicators.

You can also use keyframes to animate the parameters in a replicator’s Properties tab. Parameters in this tab affect the replicator as a whole, not the individual replicator elements. This can be useful for changing the replicator’s position or rotation over time.

Example: Creating an Animated Replicator

The following example demonstrates how quickly you can create attractive, complex animated patterns with minimal effort. An animated replicator is created using a hand-drawn shape as the source for the replicator’s cell. Once the replicator is created, the Angle and Scale parameters are keyframed, and a Parameter behavior is applied to the Radius parameter.

To create an animated replicator using keyframes
  1. Add the object that you want to replicate to your project.

    This example uses a bow-shaped Bezier shape object that is filled with a custom gradient.

    Figure. Canvas window showing a single shape object.
  2. In the Layers tab, select the source layer and click the Replicate icon in the Toolbar (or press L).

    The default replicator object (rectangle shape with the tile fill arrangement) appears in the Layers tab and in the Canvas. The original source layer is disabled.

    Figure. Canvas window showing shape object converted into a replicator object.
  3. In the Replicator tab of the Inspector, do the following:

    1. Select Circle from the Shape pop-up menu.

    2. Select Outline from the Arrangement pop-up menu.

      The cells appear in a circle. By default, the circle shape contains five points, and its Radius is set to 200. An element appears at every point on the circle.

      Figure. Canvas window showing replicator with Shape set to Circle, Arrangement set to Outline, and Radius set to 145.
    3. If necessary, adjust the Radius parameter so that elements are not cut off in the Canvas.

      In this example, Radius is set to 145.

    4. Increase the Points value until the elements overlap.

      An element is created at every point on the shape. In this example, Points is set to 30.

      Figure. Canvas window showing replicator with Points increased to 30.
    5. In the Cell Controls section of the Replicator tab, select Align Angle.

      Based on the location of the anchor point of the source layer, the replicator elements automatically rotate to match the curve of the circle.

    6. Select Additive Blend.

      Figure. Replicator tab showing Angle Align and Additive Blend checkboxes.

      The color values in every overlapping pixel are added together, and all overlapping midrange color values are lightened.

      Figure. Canvas window showing replicator with Align Angle and Additive Blend applied.
  4. Go frame 1 (press Home), and enable Record (press A).

    When Record is enabled, the Record button in the transport controls pulses red and all animateable values in the Inspector appear pink. Keyframes are created for any changes made to a layer.

  5. In the Replicator tab, click in the Angle value field, type 0, and press Enter to create a keyframe.

    Note: You can create keyframes without using the Record button by Option-clicking the Animation menu icon of a parameter in the Inspector.

  6. Set the Scale value to 50%.

    Figure. Canvas window showing replicator with Scale set to 50%.
  7. Advance to the end of the project (press End), or to the frame where you want the animation to stop.

    In this example project, the last frame is 150.

  8. Set the Angle value to 240 degrees and the Scale value to 80%.

  9. Press A to disable Record, deselect the object (click in a gray area of the Canvas), then play the project (press the Space bar).

    The replicator elements rotate and increase in size over time to create a pinwheel.

    Figure. Canvas window showing replicator with Angle and Scale parameters animated over time.

    Tip: A simple way to create a new look for a replicator is to move the position of the source object’s anchor point. You can continue to play the project while you adjust the anchor point until you create a look that you like.

To change the anchor point of a replicator source layer
  1. In the Layers tab, select the source.

    Although not required to adjust its anchor point, you can enable the source layer so you can see it in the Canvas.

  2. In the Toolbar, select the Adjust Anchor Point tool.

    Figure. Adjust Anchor Point tool in the Toolbar.

    Note: You can also press Tab to cycle through the onscreen transform modes.

  3. In the Canvas, drag the source object’s anchor point.

    Figure. Canvas window showing replicator with the source object's anchor point moved off-center.

    The alignment of the elements to the replicator shape (the circle) changes based on the position of the anchor point.

To animate a replicator parameter using a Parameter behavior
  1. Continuing with the above example, select the replicator in the Layers tab.

    Note: Remember, you can continue to play back a project while making parameter adjustments.

  2. Control-click the parameter to which you want to add a Parameter behavior (this example uses the Radius parameter), and choose Oscillate from the shortcut menu.

    The size of the replicator oscillates in the Canvas, bringing the elements closer together and further apart over the duration of the animation to create yet another look for the replicator pattern. The Oscillate parameters appear in the Behaviors tab, and a Parameter behavior icon appears in the Animation menu of the Radius parameter in the Replicator tab.

  3. Adjust the Oscillate parameters, if necessary.

    For more information on the Oscillate and other Parameter behaviors, see Parameter Behaviors.

Displaying Replicator Animation Curves in the Keyframe Editor

The replicator parameters in the Properties and Replicator tabs can be keyframed to create a change in values over time. You can view the resulting keyframe curves in the Keyframe Editor by choosing Animated from the Show pop-up menu in the Keyframe Editor. Different parameters (and their keyframe curves) are displayed in the Keyframe editor depending on which layer you select in the Layers tab:

  • Select the replicator layer to display animated replicator parameters such as Position and Rotation in the Properties tab, or Size or Tile Offset (available when the shape is a rectangle) in the Replicator tab.

  • Select the cell layer to display animated parameters of the Replicator Cell tab, such as Angle or Scale.

For more information on keyframing parameters in the Curve Editor, see Keyframes and Curves.