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Importing Position Data into ParticleIllusion 3, Part 2

Working with position data text files By Dave Nagel
In our last tutorial on ParticleIllusion 3 for Mac OS X, we took a look at copying position data from After Effects and using it to generate motion for particle emitters or layer offset. But there are times when using the clipboard to copy and paste keyframes just isn't feasible.

For example, you may have two artists working on two different systems, and you need to be able to pass position data from one machine to the other. In this case, you need to save the position data in a tab-delimited text file, then import that file into ParticleIllusion. This process is works best when your position data is coming from Adobe After Effects in that the position data can be pasted into a text file; but you can also use this method to input position data in other ways and import that into particle Illusion.

Starting in After Effects
We're going to assume you're working in After Effects and want to transfer your object's position data from there. The setup for this is similar to the technique we discussed in our previous installment, which you can find by clicking here.

1. Select the relevant object or layer in your After Effects composition. Then down to the timeline, and expand the transform properties.

2. Now select the keyframes for the Position parameter. You can do this simply by clicking on the word "Position" in the Timeline palette.

3. Copy the keyframes (Command-C).

Working with the text file
4. Now create a new, blank text document in your favorite text editing program. In my case, I'll be using Apple's Text Edit. Convert the document to a plain text file. (In Text Edit, you do this by typing Shift-Command-T or choosing Format > Make Plain Text.)

5. Paste (Command-V) the contents of the clipboard into the document. You should see something like this, if you happen to be using After Effects 6.5.

6. Now you need to make some modifications to the text file in order to get ParticleIllusion to interpret the data correctly. This basically amounts to stripping out everything except the numbers for the frame, the X pixels and the Y pixels. The advantage of doing this in Text Edit, as opposed to some other text editing programs, is that you can select entire columns of data to delete at once, without having to go and do it line by line. To select columns of data, hold down the Option key (which will convert the cursor to crosshairs) and select the data you want to delete. (Make sure you don't delete the carriage returns at the ends of the lines, or the formatting for your data will be thrown off.)

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Related Keywords:particleillusion 3, importing keyframes, position data, adobe after effects

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