Joysticks and Sliders is a well known After Effects plug-in, which allows to rig and animate 2D shape layer characters in an interactive way. On Instagram Cubstudio showcased an animation test containing a seemingly 3D looking character, being driven by Joysticks and Sliders.
The comments where baffled about what kind of scorcery that is. Me included. But the idea is genuis:
Create a framework or pipeline to process 3D characters and animate them fully rendered in realtime and in After Effects. That’s flexible, fast and modular. Sure it comes at a cost. Your characters would need to be stylized in order to cover all the possible animations. But if it fits your style, moving fast and interactive sounds like a really good idea.
But using Joysticks and Sliders didn’t make sense to me. When you take the plug-in apart you can see that it relies on shape layer interpolation magic. Not on image based magic. Therefore I threw the plug-in out of the window and wrote the whole thing myself. My version isn’t based on any plug-ins or presets. I don’t excatly know what Cubstudio did to achieve this, but it looks fairly similar.
I won’t go into detail further, as they invented the technique and I simply reverse engineered it. I don’t want to spill their business secrets. Check out their original post!
Oh and the Joker head is make by my talented friend Marcel.