after effects Tutorial

After Effects: Animating a Map Pin

Dylan Wittmuss
|3 min read
Written by Dylan Wittmuss


In the world of animations, even a simple action like a pin falling onto a map can breathe life into your project. Dylan Wittmuss elucidates how to perfect this animation with finesse.

1. The Art of Making an Object Fall:

Animate an object in such a way that it looks like it's dropping onto a surface. This is a foundational technique that can be tweaked for various objects. For Dylan's example, he simulates a pin piercing the period of a letter.

2. The Role of Masks:

A mask is a powerful tool in After Effects that hides or reveals specific sections of your layer. The goal here is to make it appear as if the pin is piercing the period and is thus partially concealed by it.

  • Initial Challenges: Dylan’s first attempt kept the mask stationary. This meant that as the pin descended, the mask prematurely hid the pin's lower section.

  • Solution: The key is in dynamic mask positioning. Rather than having a static mask, animate it in sync with the pin's movement.

3. Adjusting Anchor Points:

Anchor points dictate where your rotations and other transforms originate. By tweaking them, you can ensure the motion of your mask matches your vision.

  • Procedure:
    1. Keyframe the Object’s Path: Set your starting and ending points – where the pin starts its descent and where it lands. Dylan places the pin's landing spot over the period.

    2. Incorporate the Mask: After positioning the pin, add the mask. It should conceal the bottom of the pin. Dylan uses an inverted mask, slanted to match the pin's angle of entry. Remember to keyframe the mask's path to animate its changes over time.

    3. Animate Mask with Object’s Movement: As you move backward in your timeline to the pin's initial drop point, adjust the mask's anchor so it starts higher up, revealing more of the pin. As the pin descends, the mask should correspondingly reveal less of the pin, as though it's piercing the period.

    4. Timing & Precision: Since Dylan’s animation is swift, the mask only starts to conceal the pin upon landing. However, for longer drops, consider adding an additional keyframe just before the object lands. This ensures the mask begins its concealment only at the appropriate moment.

This tutorial underscores the significance of detailed, precise animations in making scenes appear realistic. By leveraging anchor points, masks, and careful timing, you can simulate a myriad of interactions in After Effects. Whether it’s a pin on a map or an arrow striking a target, these principles remain your guiding lights.


motion design
after effects

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