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Continuously Rasterize Issues

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Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:09 pm

Continuously Rasterize Issues

Post by Drake » Fri Mar 27, 2020 9:15 pm

So, I'm fairly new to animating with After Effect, but I've completed a few short animated videos in it (about 30 "finished" minutes of total After Effect experience). Up to this point I've drawn everything in Photoshop (which I have a good level of experience with). The issue is in zooming in and zooming out. Since it is pixel based, it is pixelated if I zoom in or out. My work around has been to basically draw completely different versions of each of the puppets for each zoom level I need for any given scene. I feel this is a complete waste of time, and I feel like I should be able to simply have ONE version of each puppet, and then zoom in and out as needed without it being pixelated.

I "thought" that moving to Illustrator and doing everything as vector art would solve my issues.

It did when it comes to pixelization. I can zoom in and out to my heart's content and everything looks great (provided I use the “Continuously Rasterize” option, which you will see in a moment is the bane of my life).

Unfortunately, it seems like EVERYTHING ELSE is broken when I use the “Continuously Rasterize” option. I have searched and searched for anyone discussing my issues, but I have up to this point found nothing.

Here are my issues, and if these are stupid things that I simply missed a simple solution for, please just point me to something I can read/watch that will educate me. Also, feel free to give me alternate methods to do what I'm attempting, and I'll be all ears. In other words, if you read this and say to yourself, “Well, that doesn’t work for you because you are doing it wrong.” Great! Point me in the direction of what I need to be doing instead.

Also, I am using the latest versions of everything (as of the date of this post). The most up-to-date Illustrator CS, After Effects CS, Duik Bassel.2 v16.2.8, and the latest version of Overlord.

All my issues revolve around using the “Continuously Rasterize” option on each layer, which was my entire reason for switching to Illustrator (to be able to zoom in and out without pixilation). I’ve come to understand that I MUST have it clicked if I want the vector artwork to look clean when I zoom in or out, but when it’s on I feel like nothing works at all the way it should.

The first issue I ran into was with Puppet Pins and Bones. When the “Continuously Rasterize” option is on, if I try and add bones to the pins, the bones appear complete off the canvas (no where near the pins). Now, I did find ONE post where Duduf says he answered this issue, and he posted a link to a FAQ about it, but that link to the FAQ was dead. So, I can’t figure out how to fix this issue. If you can redirect me to anything that talks about this, I’d be happy to check it out. Or, if it can be answered here, that’d be awesome.

Then I found out about the Overlord plugin, which allows you to simply bring your Illustrator layers into After Effects as a Shape. I figured this may solve my issues, since they wouldn’t be Illustrator Layers. And, it did… sort of…

Here is how my puppet is setup.

I have a “Main Comp” that has the body of the Puppet. Inside that “Main Comp” is a Nested Comp called “Head”. Inside the “Head Comp” are all the elements that make up the head of the puppet. There are other “Nested Comps” in the “Head Comp” for things like Eyes and Mouths, etc. But in the “Head Comp” there are a few layers (all shapes that I brought in from Illustrator using Overlord) for this puppet’s hair.

So, the navigation of the comps looks like:
Main Comp (Body of Puppet) / Head Comp (Face stuff and Hair) / Other Nested Comps (all the different eyes, mouths, etc.)

On one of the Hair Layers (a shape layer) I added 4 puppet pins (1 at the base of the skull, then three that are spaced out evenly starting just next to that 1st one all the way to the tip). I then added bones to the pins, and the bones did appear where they were supposed to. So, since the “Continuously Rasterize” option was clicked on this shape layer, I thought my issue from above was indeed resolved.

Yeah, me!

I then added the tail structure to the lower 3 bones (leaving the bone that was right next to the skull to be parented to the skull). I then auto rigged the tail structure. I tested it out and it worked great. The Hair rotated exactly as it should, staying attached to the skull where it should.

Again, yeah, me!

I thought I was good. The art looked great since the “Continuously Rasterize” option was on, the bones appeared where they should, allowing me to make the tail controller I needed to animate the puppet’s hair.

But then I hit my next issue…

I moved back to the lowest Comp (where I want all my animation controllers) and “Extracted” the “Tail” controller, so I could animate everything from one spot. It came over fine, but when I adjust this extracted controller’s setting, it does NOTHING unless I turn off the “Continuously Rasterize” option on the “Head Comp”. But that doesn’t work, because then all the artwork for the head is pixilated.

I guessed I could leave the hair controllers in the “Head Comp” and animate the hair from the “Head Comp”. Annoying, but whatever. Unfortunately, I discovered that, no, I can’t.

I undid the “Extract” Option, so that the tail controller was only in the “Head Comp”. I then clicked into the “Head Comp” and tested out the tail controller. When I adjusted its settings, once again the hair rotated as it should. HOWEVER, when I return to the lowest Comp, the hair HADN’T moved. In the “Head Comp” the hair is bent out to the side, but in the “Main Comp” the hair is in its original position.

I then thought I might need to animate the hair with keyframes. So I returned to the “Head Comp” and added a few key frames to animate the hair waving back and forth. Playing it in the “Head Comp” the hair waves back and forth. HOWEVER, returning to the “Main Comp” and playing the animation does NOTHING unless I turn off the “Continuously Rasterize” option. Then the hair animates, waving back and forth as it should, but all the artwork for the head is pixilated.

Seriously, I simply want to have clean crisp artwork I can zoom in and out on, AND be able to animate that artwork. I get that I’m probably missing something simple (at least I hope I am) due to my lack of knowledge. But I don’t see anyone anywhere on the Internet discussing these issues, or a “Best Practice” method for making puppets in Illustrator and then using them in After Effects with the ability to zoom in and out without pixelization.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Continuously Rasterize Issues

Post by Duduf » Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:10 pm


It seems there are a lot of stuff you need to understand about how After Effects work to solve all your problems, because you have several different issues.

First, and unfortunaletly, After Effects is a pixel software, not vectors. Which means you'll always have a lot of issues if what you want is to keep everything vectors until the very end (ie the main comp you're going to render) -> you'd be better in Flash/animate or a 3D software, that's their field, not After Effects.

That brings me to your first and most important issue: the puppet tool is meant to be used with pixels. And it WILL rasterize the layer you put it on (best case scenario) or just mess everything up. (the FAQ is now on the doc, by the way,

Also, you have to understand what's going on under the hood when you extract controllers, and how the "continuous rasterize / collapse transformation" option works.
When you check this option on a precomp, The render process changes and handles the layers inside that precomp as if they were not precomposed: their coordinates and everything used by the rig will be the same as if they were in the parent comp. That's important to keep in mind, because you'll understand what a pain it may be if the two compositions are not the same size or location, for example.

Now, when you extract controllers, Duik uses either expressions or master properties (for details, you should read the doc, it took me quite some time to write it....): you'll see that both options may have completely different results depending on the "collapse transformations" option. Also, you have to understand that using master properties do not actually move the layers inside the precomp, but kind of create an "instance", a virtual copy, of this precomp where the layers move. That explains why controllers seem to work outside of the precomp but do not actually move stuff inside. You'd have to switch to expressions.
Also, I don't really know how After Effects handles master properties with and "collapse transformations"...

Finally, you have to know that there is a "parent accross comps" tool in duik which may help: instead of rigging inside precomps and extrancting controllers, you can rig everything in the main comp and parent stuff from precomps to the main comp. Again, it's in the doc (and the official tutorials, 8h)

And, it you want to "continuously rasterize" everything, you'll have to check it on every comp, I think you forgot that.

It IS possible to have continuously rasterize everything in Ae, and have a working rig, I've done it (and actually adapted a lot of expressions used by Duik to make it easier), but as Ae is not really meant for that, it won't be so easy. It's easier to just scale up the artwork, and then rig it several times (or just once on a very big artwork, but the performance may be quite poor)

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Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:09 pm

Re: Continuously Rasterize Issues

Post by Drake » Mon Mar 30, 2020 3:13 am

Thank you for the reply. It means a lot.

After I posted my questions I continued to dig and I did figure out a few of the things you said: that AE is a pixel based ap, that "continually rasterize" actually does other things as well, like change the order it processes effects, etc.

So I had already come to the conclusion that I couldn't do what I was hoping. At least not in the way I was hoping.

Pretty sure I'm simply stuck with rigging different sizes of the same puppet for scenes where the camera is either further away, or closer to, the puppet, regardless of whether or not I draw in Illustrator or Photoshop. Not the end of the world.

I did forget about Duik's ability to "parent across comps". It is one of the things you go over in your rigging class I purchased. I'll go back and watch that again. Now that you reminded me of it, I think that's going to save me a lot of grief.

Thanks for the help, and thanks for all you do with Duik. It really is the only reason After Effects is a viable animation program.


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