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TRAPCODE'S ECHOSPACE

Peder Norrby unveils his latest creation By Ko Maruyama
With the ever-growing popularity of Trapcode plugins (most notably Shine and 3D Stroke), the motion graphics community has been straining their necks trying to see what's around the corner from this one-man shop.  Peder Norrby, owner and codewriter at Trapcode Plugins tipped his hand at NAB, showing Echospace to attendees.  Now, Trapcode's latest hits the street September 26th.

Trapcode's plugins have gained popularity, not only for their new elegant effects that they bring to Adobe After Effects, but because they have been able to offer something that wasn't possible before, or necessarily easy to complete.  Another hot characteristic of the plugins is their affordability.   With most plugins from Trapcode weighing in at just under $100, they're all very affordable.  The latest offering is a mere $49USD.

Echospace is a completely new way of manipulating layers.



Rather than simply instance one layer on a 2D plane, Echospace has the potential to generate multiple duplicates of a specific layer (or precomp) and control their transformations in 3D space.

IT'S FAST

While this plugin is based on principles of After Effects' expression system, and some may argue that you could create similar effects by hand coding each layer, I challenge anyone to write enough code faster than I can click the Echospace button.

Additionally, while this is expression based, you don't have to know about or even touch any of the embedded code to use the graphic user interface that you (as an After Effects user) are familiar with.

IT'S EASY

Adding the plugin to a single layer does nothing, until you invoke the "Repeat" command.  At that time, Echospace creates a Null Object called "Main" and several duplicate layers and nulls.



One great feature of this plugin (as is the same in some other Trapcode plugins) is the ability to have the generated layers come "pre-shy'd".  That is to say, the layers that you don't particularly need to view in the timeline are created withe the shy layer activated.  Simply turn on the master "Shy" switch, and you only need to see the pertinent layers in your timeline.






IT'S FUN

Most graphic artists enjoy the creative process that effects allow; messing about with the values to tweak specific layers.  Echospace has plenty of opportunity to change the duplicated layers' transformations.


Initially, Echospace creates a Null Object that your effected layer become parented to.  This Null Object serves as a reference point for the Repeater values within the plugin controls.   By manipulating the plugins' options, you control where the instances will appear in 3D space. 


The plugin controls can shift a 3D offset for position, rotation and even scale and opacity over the number of iterations in your repetition.

Moreover, the position of the instances can be offset using additional offset values on X, Y, and/or Z planes.


Of course, each of these parameters can be animated.

Not only can transformation be modified, but the time delay for each transformation can also be offset.

WASH, RINSE, REPEAT.

Of course, because Adobe After Effects doesn't deal with virtual instances, and must create the actual layers in order to control them using the underlying expression controls, it could become a task just to delete any unwanted layers.

Instead, included in the plugin, there is a "CLEAN" feature.  Rather than destroying the "Repeater" or "Delay" values previously set for your iterations, Clean will simply get rid of the layers that the "Repeat" button created, allowing you to reapply the same values to an updated master layer. (*Tutorials pending)

With the ability to create collapsable 3D layers which will ripple through 3D precomposites, Echospace will extend After Effects' artists' use of 3D environments and create a whole new set of design styles.

NOTE!  Beware that this is built on a series of expressions.  While you don't need to be a master, or even beginner with expressions, you need to know the basic principal of After Effects expression handling.  The code is syntax driven.  This means that any modification to the code, even the name of the layer to which the plugin is attached, and the whole thing breaks.  Don't worry, if you stumble, there's always "Clean & Repeat" to get you back and running in no time. 



Built for Adobe After Effects' 6.5 version, this will likely give users incentive to upgrade now rather than procrastinate any further.

To purchase the plugin, check out www.trapcode.com or www.toolfarm.com.  For more information about plugins and After Effects, be sure to check out the DMNForums.


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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:Trapcode, Trapcode plugins, Echospace, shine, 3d stroke, ko, Belief Echospace, Peder Norrby, After Effects, New Plugin

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