Extruding Maps in After Effects with GEOlayers

In this video tutorial, I take a step-by-step look at how to extrude map elements in Adobe After Effects.

Before we get started, make sure you have the GEOlayers plugin. This premium After Effects plugin allows you to pull geospatial data from the Internet and turn it into amazing animations.

Step 1 – Create a Mapcomp

Once you have GEOlayers installed, open up your After Effects project and go to Window > Extensions > GEOlayers 3. Create a new project and then drag the map to select a loose location. Adjust your Mapcomp settings, and then select Next.

Select a map style and click create. In addition to the plugin, you might want to purchase the additional GEOlayers Mapdata pack. This gives you additional styles as well as opens up access to certain tools. Learn more about the data pack here.

Step 2 – Download the Geospatial Data

With my Mapcomp created, I’m ready to find some map data. I want to animate three different areas of France, starting with a small region and finishing with the entire county. To find these areas, I’ll simply type them into the Search Online bar at the top of the GEOlayers panel. Once found, I’ll click on the Add to Browser arrow button.

Step 3 – Create a New Map Style

Before I draw out the features of my geospatial data, I need to choose a style. GEOlayers has a number of presets available, but I’m going to create my own via the style icon in the top right corner. I’ll click the plus button to create a new style, and then add a name and select a fill color. The Extrusion slider bar is at the bottom, which I’ll set to 100 pixels.

Step 4 – Draw the Features

With my geospatial data in the browser and my new style selected, I can now draw the features to my map comp. I’ll first select the assets in the browser which will bring up all of the tools at the bottom of the panel. I’ll click on the pen icon and select Draw Features.

GEOlayers now adds the extruded shape layers to my map comp, along with a few lights. You might not notice it, but it will also switch the 3D renderer to Cinema 4D, which is a requirement for working with extruded layers. Now let’s see how we can animate these features.

Step 5 – Rig the Extrusion

If you try to animate the extrusion of the country shape layer using the Extrusion Depth parameter, you’ll find that it doesn’t animate from the ground, but instead out from the layer toward the ground, throwing the shape layer out of place. To get around this, I’ll need to make adjustments to the Anchor Point.

The trick is to parent the Extrusion Depth to the Z Anchor Point attribute. It’s important to parent it specifically to the Z, and not just the entire Anchor Point. Once attached, the layer should extrude properly. I did have other issues with the shape intersecting with the map comp. For this problem I simply shifted the Z Position of the shape layer to bring it out a bit.

Step 6 – Animate

To bring my map to life I’ll now animate the Z Anchor Point of each shape layer. This will shoot the extrusion of each element out from the Earth’s surface. I’ll add an Opacity animation to have each asset fade in as well.

For the map, I can add keyframes directly in the GEOlayers panel, which is found at the bottom left of the map view section. Simply add a keyframe, move the playhead on the timeline, and then reposition the map. You now have an animation.

Step 7 – Finalize & Export

With the animation finished, I can now finalize the map. Pushing the finalize button will download all of the high resolution map data, making your map sharp and sexy. After finalization is complete, simply export your map and share it with the world.

Pick up a copy of GEOlayers here.

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