Cubstudio is a cool british studio, one of the best when it comes to characters in Motion Design. From time to time they upload some rather mindblowing insights to their setups on instagram. This project is about one of those.

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.