June 19, 2024

How to Animate a Map In After Effects!

Published May 26, 2023, 11:20 a.m. by Courtney

If you're looking to add some animated flair to your After Effects projects, you're in luck. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to animate a map in After Effects.

We'll be using the free After Effects plugin called "MapKit" to create our animation. MapKit is a great tool for creating animated maps. It's easy to use and has a wide range of features.

To get started, download the MapKit plugin from the After Effects website. Once you've installed it, open After Effects and create a new composition.

Next, you'll need a map image. You can find map images online or you can create your own in Photoshop. For this tutorial, we'll be using a map of the United States.

Once you have your map image, drag it into your composition. You should see a MapKit layer appear in your composition.

Now we'll add some animation. With your map layer selected, go to the animation tab and click on the "Add Keyframe" button. This will create a keyframe at the current frame.

Next, move to the next frame and change the position of your map. You can do this by clicking and dragging on the map or by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Repeat this process until you've animated the map to your liking. You can add as many keyframes as you want.

Once you're happy with your animation, it's time to render it out. Go to Composition > Add to Render Queue.

In the Render Queue window, make sure you select the proper settings for your output. You can find more information about the settings in the After Effects help documentation.

When you're ready, click on the "Render" button.

And that's it! You've successfully animated a map in After Effects.

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hey what's up youtube my name is iate

adamczyk from filmmakers vfx guide

and today we're going to learn how to do

the 3d map animation

it's quite simple but i have quite a few

tips and tricks for you that you can use


other projects so without further ado

let's jump in okay so obviously the

first thing we need

is to have the image of our map

so where do we get this image most

likely from google maps but what's the

best way to obtain it

from what i've found you could do

multiple screenshots

and then connect them in photoshop but

there is actually a better way to go to

google.com mind maps then go to

create a new map go whatever you need

let's do the new york we're gonna do

a trip from newark up somewhere here

so what you need to do is find your city


get it on your screen in such a way that

it fits

click over here and then

print map choose the a3 size

image in the orientation landscape and

click on print

you can cancel that but what we have is

a high resolution

image of that map that we zoomed on so

right click on it save as and just call

it a mapped image

and save it and then we can import our

image and as you can see it's a really

high resolution image and that's perfect

okay let's create a new composition

and name it map

and let's drag our map into our


as you can see it's way way bigger so

let's shrink it down hold shift to scale


uniformly like i said maybe let's

animate from

newark to let's say empire state


okay so what's the first thing we need

to do well let's draw our path

so to do that we select the pen tool

with the g

or select it over here notice that my

roto bezier

option is turned off

and i'm starting to draw

over the highway

don't mind the shape and the

fill for now we will adjust the shape

later so this will be our path

let's click on this arrow down go to

contents shape

and this is where we can manipulate

whatever we have

on this layer so let's delete the fill

which is that white area we won't need


click on a stroke and let's change color


let's say nice orange change the stroke


to in our case 5

is fine and then we can click next to


to create a dashed lane it doesn't

really matter it's a personal preference

you can change the dash length over here

you can move the offset if something

doesn't look right

let's make it a little bit wider

change it to 12 and that looks good so

now we want to adjust the shape of

our path in such a way that it aligns

with the roads so what we have to do is

select the pen tool

and click on the shape so now we have

the handles

with which we can manipulate the curve

with as you probably remember

if you press ctrl and click on one of

these handles you adjust them


independent from one another so let's

click ctrl

and step by step adjust the curves

for the road

if something doesn't look right we can

obviously always add the point

and manipulate it separately

okay great

yeah that looks fine as you can see our

dashes didn't really make it to the

final destination so you can either make

it a little bit longer

or use the offset that i've talked about

that's what it's for okay so that was

super easy so let's start with

animating the path how do we animate the

path well it's

really simple you go to the shape layer

click on add

and select trim paths

now we have a new option under contents

called trim paths and then if you take a

look i am

animating the end of the path

if i move the start i'm animating the


so let's go to the first second and

click a stopwatch we can move this

keyframe to let's say

three and a half seconds and then

bring it to zero so let's see how it


and we have animation of our path great

let's easy ease out easy

is in to make it a little smoother okay

so far so good

so let's add the shadow obviously there

are a few ways to do that but i think

the simplest one is to use a

built in drop shadow effect to access it

you click on shape layer right click

layer styles and select

drop shadow as you can see the layer


effect showed up then you can go to drop

shadow options

and we can control how our drop shadow

looks we can change the angle


we can change the distance this is all

fake animated this isn't really a

distance in 3d space

so keep that in mind we can change the


so basically a softness of our shadow

as well as color now we can change the

color a little bit

why not let's get fancy make it dark


cool and as you can see the shadow is

also animated along with the path so one

small touch

i like to do is to add the gaussian blur

because if it's way too sharp it always

looks fake

i mean we're not going for photorealism

obviously but

that jarring sharpness that sometimes


is not always a great thing let's use

the one and a half pixel blur

and actually we can do it also on the


so i just copied over that gaussian blur

but this is just a stylistic choice you

don't have to do it obviously

okay so now the fun part let's create a

new camera

right click new camera so i'm going to

show you later

one more advanced option with the camera

but for now let's pick a one note camera

so we only control the orientation of

the camera

as you probably remember with a two note

camera we have to control

the camera itself but also

a point of interest so we don't really


where the camera is looking we do this


by using a point of interest the focal

length is 24 mil

that's fine going to be pretty wide okay

so let's now make both these layers 3d

if it became blurry you probably have a

depth of field on let's turn it off for

now we'll deal with that later so let's

plan our scene let's say the first


to reveal keyframes up until this point

it will there will be a

track forward with the camera over the

airport and then we want to kind of


the path with the camera and end up here

so let's do that

we're going to need at least two views


make it efficient so let's say this one

will be our active camera view

and this one will be our custom view

so let's rotate our camera a little

click r after you select the camera and

change the

rotation let's say 60 degrees

i don't know we'll see we'll have to

adjust that over here i have

the world axis mode because i found in


case that local axis mode is a little

bit tougher to control where it's going

as you can see as i'm going closer to

the camera our map is showing up over


maybe let's change the angle to 45 or


35 yeah i like this one so let's set the


to the proper location okay

last chain 25 that's it so now let's see

if this is our yeah i think this is our

original frame

so let's go to the frame number one

click shift and p and make keyframes

everywhere in case we want to change

things up

for now we can move this a little bit


back so during the first second we have

a slide

zoom in and then we will follow the

path and as far as how many keyframes on

the way it's really individual

try to match it up in such a way that it

just looks good

there is no set in stone way so let's go


let's change this way this time to the


so you can see we have a camera looking

this way over here

and i can easily now change it

to follow the path and we can do a slide


forward or rather down to get the camera


to our destination you can see the

camera really

started going a little bit too soon so

we can move this keyframe over here and

see how it looks

so this whole thing is a little too

quick for my liking but we can easily

fix that

so what you have to do is just go

to the shape layer stretch the end maybe

to 5 seconds

and to not adjust all of these keyframes


select them all click alt

and then we stretch everything so let's

see how it looks right now

okay that's a little better what i want

to do is to

easy ease out over here and easy

is in so i don't really like that

ending over here it's a little too sharp

for me

so i'm going to delete this keyframe

see how it looks

okay so now i'm going to move it

and lay it down over here

this will be always a little back and

forth until it looks right for you

yeah i actually like this let's see how

this looks

okay cool okay i can think we can switch

to one view

so let's turn on the depth of field

open up the aperture way too much

to really make sure what's in focus and

change the focus distance

so our line is

always in focus okay so far so good

here we can make a keyframe so let's

make a focus distance keyframe

over here

again we will not have such a shallow

depth of field this is just to make sure


what's in focus is in fact in focus make

a keyframe

over here and now we want to

make sure or you can leave it out of

focus actually

it really depends on you and you can

turn down the

aperture so we have a little bit more

depth of field

okay let's see how it looks right now

okay great you can always make it slower

make it faster

really depends on your animation if for

some reason we don't have this right now

but if you were seeing black bars

so you don't have to do it i'm just

doing this for demonstration purposes

as you can see we have black bars over

here and

that means we are seeing outside of the

bounce of the picture

so there's a really easy fix just type

in repetile

and lengthen towards that

direction that is sticking out so let's


expand left a little bit and for tiling

select unfold and then it's mirrored but

nobody will ever notice and you just

fixed that black part obviously do it

as little as possible as this is a

little more

a memory consuming but we don't need


so let's get back to 24. so let's do


markers that you've seen at the

beginning of the video let's create a

new composition

select the ellipse tool make an ellipse

go to ellipse ellipse path right click

convert to bezier path this way we can

modify these points so now that we click


ellipse let's use the vertex convert

tool to make it a

sharp point select these two points

grab them move them up hold shift and

this will be our marker now let's select

this layer again

click once again on the ellipse tool and

create a circle let's move it

to the center now click on contents

add merge paths

and now we can use subtract

but we want to subtract the second

from the first so just move it to the


and this will subtract the second one

from the first

and this way we have a hole cool

so let's give it some color so use

four color gradient let's get back to

our composition

and select the same color that is

our path go to contents shape

stroke click on the color we can copy

this color over here

and click paste to each every one of

these four

gradients now we have four controls

move them and then make this one

a little lighter

this one a little darker

and you can see we have a cool way to do

a gradient

again add the gaussian blur maybe

three pixels and also we want to have a

little bit smaller composition

so let's click on region of interest

and select only our marker

now go to composition crop comp to

region of interest

and we can now select our shape layer

select align

to center to center and awesome

let's save it and bring over

our comp which is this let's rename it

marker and bring it to our composition

let's make it

3d let's scale it down

like so now choose the anchor point

tool which is pan behind tool select y

now we are moving only the anchor point

and we will move it to the

very bottom of our layer over here this

is our layer

so now let's use the selection tool and

rotate it

90 degrees hold shift to move in

45 degree increments actually it doesn't

have to be

a strict a 90 degree angle just make

sure it looks

good on your map you can move it down or

up it might be going in and out of focus

and that's just because of the depth of

field so

either you can make a depth of field

larger as you remember by closing down

the aperture

over here or you can just make this

a little bit smaller and

voila go to the front view as you can

see we have our marker over here we can

duplicate it

let's name it marker start

marker and select the marker end

and we can move it to the end position

of our journey let's make a small


select s when clicking on that marker

we are in the beginning let's change to

active camera

again adjust it in such a way

that it looks good for you let's make a

keyframe on a scale

and let's set it to zero

it can even overshoot a little bit

so we have the final

scale is 13.5 so let's change it to

16 and there will be kind of pop

cool copy these keyframes go to

the end select the scale

and paste these keyframes

you can do it over here let's see how it


okay cool so a few final touches it

looks a little bit

flat for me so let's select our shape


select local axis mode and move it

just a tiny bit up again go to

layer styles go to drop shadow and maybe

increase the distance

just a little bit and if you'd like you

can add the motion blur obviously so

let's turn it on

and see how our final composition would

look like

and you can use it anywhere when you can

show your character

moving from one place to another when

it's important to the story

when you want to show how to get to for

example your client's location um

i don't know what whatever you need to

do to carry on

the message you want to carry perfectly

so that's a good job i want to show you

one more

cool thing and i sort of came up with i

found doesn't matter it's a cool trick


i sometimes want to attach something

to the end of this point so let's turn

off the motion blur

it can either be an arrow or

it can for example be a point of

interest of the camera

so let's create a new composition

duplicate it and open it up

let's delete this camera we still have

our animation


let's create a new camera

and change it to two node camera guys

i'm going to be honest

uh operating the tunnel's camera is

often a

pain in the butt um let's turn off the

depth of field

and what i mean by this is if i

only move my position you can see my

point of interest

is staying where it is so if i use these


the point of interest is moving with it

but if i'm using these tools so orbit

around a point

it's often really hard to really

nail that composition that movement uh

and actually it requires a lot of


that's why there are plugins like

handycam plugin and whatnot

but to the point let's change it to

custom view

and move this camera just a little bit

closer to the center let's check the


and it's going to move like here like so

so let's move it down


cool so now this is our active camera


so let's create a new null object and

i'm going to

first place it let's make it 3d

i'm going to place it exactly

over our starting point so now we will


this null to follow the path exactly

how do we do that well i found an

expression and i found it on

motionboutique.com trim

dash path tricks let's

copy this expression and paste it

on the position of our node so alt click

on position

and paste it we will obviously have to

adjust it a little bit

so first we create a variable called

shape group so this takes this comp


path layer maybe let's rename it to

path let's get back here

let's change it to path let's make it a

little bit bigger

it goes to our path layer content

shape one so let's see yeah that's the

right name

then creates my path which is our

shape group which is this group we

created before and goes even more

into the content called path1 yep

and it takes the path variable

great then we create a trim end trim end

is the exact

point on our path so to grab that

it gets shape group content trim paths

1 and takes the variable called

end and then our final position would be

my path dot point on path trim

end which is basically just a percentage

of the path and converted to

a point on that path if you don't

understand don't worry okay it complains

here that

method name trim pass one in class group

doesn't exist

oh because when i click the add trim


i didn't select the shape but rather

contents but

it's all fine all we have to do is

adjust to it

so we can change the shape group to

this comp layer and it should be

good to go let's see let's copy this

and see if it worked it doesn't complain

great so oh what do we have over here

it's offset okay this is because our

current value right here doesn't take

into the account

our current value so our position that

we set it

on previously right so all we have to do

is have

all of this movement as it is

but just use value plus so instead of

replacing we will be adding

we might need to adjust our current


so let's move it over here

and over here and it

should follow it exactly

okay that's awesome so depending on your

shape structure

you might need to modify this a little

bit just like i did

if not you can use the original i will

link everything in the description

under the video so good it was a good


opportunity to spot how we can

use these expressions that are already

on the internet

to adjust to our needs okay back to the

video quickly

go to point of interest and use the pick

whip tool

and pick whip it to the position

let's see how it looks right now

and awesome

it follows the path exactly to not see

obviously all of these corners what we

can do is

change the focal length so double click

and maybe change it to 50 mil

so let's see how it looks

awesome as you can see we have a little


of the edge right here but again

cc reptile expand up just a little bit

change it to unfold and it's fixed if

you have the gaussian blur you might

want to


put it before the gaussian blur to avoid

any silliness

over here so this is one fun way to


our camera to look at the point

again then you can obviously add the

motion blur at the depth of field and

whatnot but you already know how to do


so yeah that's it i'm out if you'd like

to learn more i have a webinar it's


10 top things you can do in after

effects as a filmmaker

check out the link in the description

meanwhile subscribe if you aren't


and that's it hit me up with any

questions you might have

and i'll see you in the next one oh and

also i wanted to

greet my wife because she told me to

see ya


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