This article gives a broad overview of how to use After Effects to create a dynamic video project on Idomoo’s PVaaS platform.
More detailed content can be found in the next sections starting with: Project Structure and Scene Comps.
Personalized videos change each time they are rendered, depending on the data that is fed into them.
The changes are of two main types:
- The editorial structure of the video
- The content displayed in each scene
Using both these options, you can make many variations of a video within a single project.
Personalizing Editorial Structure With Scenes
To change the editorial structure of the video, begin by looking at each project as a collection of scenes rather than as a single linear video. Considering your video as a collection of scenes makes it easy to:
- Tell different stories to different customers: For example, the customer paying automatically via direct debit doesn’t need to see information about paying at a branch, and vice versa, so you would prepare a scene for each option and only show the correct scene to the correct customer. The descision making is done later, outside of After Effects.
- Have an easy to update project: If you cut your project up to smaller parts, it’s easier to make changes later by replacing just what you need to replace, or inserting a scene in between two existing scenes.
- Cutting down the project into more manageable chunks: The less things you have in a scene, the easier it is to test it, see how it works, and fix it if it goes wrong.
Scenes are top level After Effects compositions. You package them by using Scene Builder, Idomoo’s After Effects plugin. This results in an IDM file, one for each scene.
Personalizing Content with Placeholder Layers
The content shown in a scene can include customized information, such as the customer’s name, an image of the product they just bought, and a personal video greeting from their idol, to name but a few examples. You create such personalization by using After Effects layers. These layers represent placeholders for future data. We call them placeholder layers and they can be of one of these types of layers:
- Text placeholder layers - Used as a placeholder for text.
- Audio placeholder layers - Used as a placeholder for audio (this can also be done later in Storybuilding Suite).
- Media placeholder layers - These can be either one of the following layer types:
- Image layers
- Video layers
- Solid layers
- The great thing is that they are interchangeable later. You can start with an image layer, for example, and fill it with video, and so on.
Creating dynamic videos with After Effects is not much different from creating ordinary videos with After Effects. The tool is the same, and your approach to design, animation and compositing is the same. The workflow, stemming from the dynamic nature of the video, is as follows:
- You build each scene as a standalone composition in After Effects according to the instructions found in the section Using After Effects to Build a Scene Library.
- Once your scenes are ready and approved, use our After Effects plugin, Scene Builder, to define which layers are placeholder layers. Then package each scene into an IDM file, again by using Scene Builder. Preview the scenes with Scene Viewer (Windows) or Storybuilding Suite. If anything is wrong go back to After Effects and fix. Follow the articles in the section Using Idomoo Scene Tools to Package and Preview a Scene
Once you packaged all your scenes you have a scene library. This is usually where the animator’s job is done. You created IDM files that are good to go, however, please read on to learn what happens with these files. For more information, refer to the Storybuilding Suite section.
- Using Storybuilding Suite—our web front end, create a new Scene Library and upload the scenes into it.
- Still in Storybuilding Suite, create a new storyboard and add scenes to it. Insert logic for when each scene plays and turn your placeholder layers into dynamic layers ready to accept data.
- Once your Storyboard is ready, you are all set up and can start generating videos.
Idomoo’s Rendering Engine
Idomoo doesn’t use After Effects for rendering. Instead, we use our own rendering engine. It’s fast and robust and ready for action. However, because it’s not After Effects, layers used as placeholders are limited with regard to what you can do with them. For example, you can’t use any effect that comes built in with After Effects. We can’t recreate that on our render engine. That's why we built our own effects for you to use. Static layers that don’t change from video to video are rendered in After Effects during the packaging stage, and are not limited in any way. But placeholder layers have some limitations. To learn more about what you can use and can’t use, read the article Placeholder Layers, or use this cheat sheet.