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How To Create Animated Backgrounds in After Effects

Introduction

Hey everyone, this is Owen with Motion Array and in this tutorial I’ll be showing you how to make an animated background or pattern all inside of After Effects. Alright let’s get started.

How To Create Animated Backgrounds in Adobe After Effects

This text has been transcribed from the video for optimal reading

Begin by making a new composition 1920x1080, 29.97 and name it "Animated BG”. Then create a new shape layer (Layer > New > Shape Layer) and add a path and a stroke. Name this layer “Tree Trunk”. In Adobe Illustrator draw a small vertical line and copy it. Back in After Effects highlight the path in the shape layer and paste. This will bring in the line and center it to the comp. Change the stroke width to 10 and color to a dark blue. Now add another new shape layer and add an ellipse and a fill to it. Change the fill to a light green. Rename this layer “Leaves”. Drag this layer to the bottom of the layer stack and adjust position and size of both layers to make a nice looking tree. With no layers selected, use the pen tool and draw a branch or two for the tree. Make it’s stroke the same color and width as the trunk. Now let’s animate!

Add a trim paths to the tree trunk layer and animate the path growing from bottom to top from frame 0 to 20. Add an easy ease to these keyframes. Then animate the scale of the leaves layer so that at frame 0 it’s at 0% and at frame 20 it’s scale is 100%. Also on the leaves layer, animate the position so that it follows the growth of the trunk from frame 0 to 20. Apply the same easing to these keyframes. On the branches move the anchor point to the point that come in contact with the trunk. Then animate the scale from 0-100% from frame 0 to 20 and apply the same easing. Offset the branch layers so that they animate in after the trunk has grown past where they are placed. Select all the layers making up the tree and go to Layer > Precompose. Call the precomp “Tree 1” and hit okay. 

In the project panel duplicate the Tree 1 comp twice so that you have 3 tree comps. Open up Tree 2 and Tree 3 and make necessary adjustments so that they are their own unique trees. You can probably reuse all the trunk and branch keyframes, you just need to make new shapes for the leaves. I made one with two triangles stacked and one with two circle stacked. 

In the Tree 1 composition, select all the layers and go to Layer > Precompose. Call the new precomp “Tree 1 Animated”. Still in the Tree 1 comp, right click on the Tree 1 Animated precomp (should be the only layer now) and go to Time > Enable Time Remapping. By default there are two keyframes, one at frame 0 and one at whatever the last frame. Go to frame 30 and add a keyframe with the value of 30 (or 1 second). Select the keyframes at 0 and 30 and copy them. Move the playhead to frame 150 and paste the keyframes. Right click on the two new keyframe and go to Keyframe Assistant > Time Reverse Keyframes. This will animate the trees back out by reversing the time. Go to the end of the layer and delete the last keyframe that was set by default. Move the playhead to frame 200 and set a keyframe with a value of 0. Option + click on the stopwatch for Time Remap and using the arrow button go to Property > loopOutDuration. Now the animation in and out will keep looping through. Highlight the Time Remap property to select all the keyframes and copy them. Now go to the other two tree comps and precompose them just like we did for Tree 1. Making sure the playhead is at frame 0, paste the Time Remap keyframes and expression onto them. Now we’re ready to make the pattern!

In the Animated BG composition bring in Tree 2 and 3 (Tree 1 should already be there). Leave one tree centered at 960 for it’s X position. Move the other two trees 400 pixels to the left and right of the center one (so their X values would be 560 and 1360). Duplicate the trees and continue to space them 400 pixels apart to fill up the width of the screen. It should only require 5 trees. Make sure that you are alternating through the trees so that there aren’t two of the same tree right next to each other. Select the two trees directly to the left and right of the center and offset them in the timeline so that they begin at frame 5. Then grab the two trees on the outside and offset them so they start at frame 10. This will create the look of it all emanating from the center. Select the 5 tree layers and go to Layer > Precompose and call the precomp “Row 1”. Move the Row 1 precomp down so it’s Y position value 740. 

Now we’ll work on making a second row. Still in the Animated BG composition bring in all the tree layers again. This time, instead of having one tree in the center, we’ll have two trees on either side of center. Pick the two trees you want and make one X value 760 and the other 1160. This way they are still the same distance apart but the whole row will be offset 200 pixels. Fill in the rest of the row with duplicates spacing them 400 pixels apart. Use the Row 1 precomp as reference so that you aren’t putting two like trees next to each other. It should take 6 trees to fill up the screen. The outside ones are barely on screen but I added them in anyway for even spacing. The two trees closest to center will remain starting at frame 0. The next two further from center will be offset so that they start at frame 5. The last two (the furthest away) will be offset so that they start at frame 10. Select these tree layers and go to Layer > Precompose and name the new precomp “Row 2”. 

Adjust Row 1’s position so that it’s Y value is 540 so it is centered to the screen. Change the Y position value of Row 2 to 340 so that it’s 200 pixels above Row 1. Duplicate the rows and fill up the screen, spacing them 200 pixels apart in the Y dimension. I ended up with 3 rows above the center and 5 below the center. I added two extra on the bottom side so that I could animate a scroll down. That left me with a total of 9 rows. Select the rows on both sides of the center and offset them so they begin at frame 4. Continue offsetting the rows 4 more frames until all of them are offset (similar to how you offset the trees making up the rows). This will complete the emanating from center look. 

Go to Layer > New > Null Object and name the new null “Mover”. Parent all the rows to the Mover null. At frame 0 set a position keyframe on the Mover null. Move the playhead to frame 150 and change the Y position value to 140. Then option + click on the stop watch for position and click the arrow button and go to Property > loopOutDuration. This will create a nice seamless loop so we don’t have to make a any more rows for the null to scroll through. All that’s left to do is add a background. Go to Layer > New > Solid. Name it “BG” and choose a nice light green (and make sure it’s comp sized!). 

Well, that concludes this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful, if you did, please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials please go ahead and subscribe because we’re making new ones all the time.  I hope you guys found it helpful.  If you did, we’ve got lots of other Premiere Pro tutorialsAfter Effects tutorials and filmmaking tutorials!

Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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