Motion Designer Garth Lee Rethinks the Classic Bouncing Ball Aniamtion Exercise
Garth Lee shares some of his insights into animation in After Effects, working with the classic bouncing ball theme. Garth suggests, and rightly so that animation should have its planning through individual and discrete controls.
Separate Those Dimensions
You can do this quite quickly in After Effects by choosing “Separate Dimensions” when working with properties such as rotation or position. It breaks out things like position and rotation into multiple “channels.” Garth suggests that it is much better to animate this way.
A Clean Way To Edit
Check out Garth Lee’s post for how to “Unlearn the Basics,” showing how he creates a bouncing ball animation in After Effects using “Separate Dimensions.” Garth suggests “The way this is often taught, is by key-framing the ball at each of the extremes (top and bottom of the arcs), then easing the top of each arc.” I would add that I have taught animation for many years, and I have never advocated for directly keying anything anywhere at any time —If you are going to key it, make a control for it.
Control It to Animate It
So I would take that a step further. Every different thing that you want to animate should have its own control. That could be separate dimensions in AE or better still, using Nulls as a simple rig. In the case of a bouncing ball, one null can be assigned to control up and down position, one for left and right, and others for squash, stretch, or any other attributes that you want to animate. This way, you can easily see keys and edit the graph for each. As an added benefit, you can swap out the asset without destroying the animation.