Using Polar Coordinates in After Effects



30 Days of After Effects: Day 2 – Master the Polar Coordinates effect in After Effects and create a GMunk inspired sci-fi space tunnel.
Download the Project File: https://www.schoolofmotion.com/tutorials/polar-coordinates-after-effects
Enroll for Free in the 30 Days of After Effects Series: https://www.schoolofmotion.com/tutorials/polar-coordinates-after-effects

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Partial, Auto-Generated Transcript Below 👇

Music (00:00): [intro music]

Joey Korenman (00:21): What’s up Joey here at school of motion and welcome today to have 30 days of after effects today. What I want to talk about is an effect that a lot of people don’t really understand and it’s called polar coordinates. It’s this really geeky sounding effect, but with a little creativity and some know-how, it can do some incredible stuff. Now, this tutorial was inspired by a sick piece done by my favorite motion designer, Jima. I tried to recreate a little bit of it and I show you how I do it, and don’t forget, sign up for a free student account. So you can grab the project files from this lesson. Now let’s hop into after effects and get started. So like I said, the purpose of this video is going to be to introduce you guys to the polar coordinates effect. Um, and if you look at the final render that I put together, um, I kinda went a little bit overboard, um, and I obviously did a lot more than just, um, you know, put together a simple little demo here.

Joey Korenman (01:12): And, uh, I’m not going to be able to show you how I did every little piece of this. Uh, if that’s something you’re interested in, please let me know in the comments. Um, because you know, all of this stuff you’re looking at, there’s free information out there about how to use, you know, the sound effector in cinema 4d and how to create things that react with audio. What I want to show you in this tutorial is how to make this tunnel, this kind of rotating, 3d, infinite tunnel. Um, and it’s actually a lot easier than you think. Uh, I want to show you guys the G monk piece, and I know it wasn’t just G monk. Um, he probably worked with a lot of people on this, but he, he made this piece recently. And if you look at this part right here, this tunnel, and there’s a lot of really neat stuff going on here, and there’s some really fancy particle stuff, but this, this tunnel, this cool techie, Tron looking tunnel is what I wanted to try and recreate.

Joey Korenman (02:11): And I thought it would be a good way of using, um, the polar coordinates. In fact, in the end to show you guys how to use it. So let’s happen after facts. Uh, and first, let me try to show you what this effect does. Um, just on a very simple level. So I’m gonna make a new comp we’ll just call it test. All right. So what this effect does at its simplest level, okay, I’m just going to make a big horizontal line across the entire comp and I’m going to add an adjustment layer, and then I’m going to add the polar coordinates effect to it. Okay. So polar coordinates and only has two options, the type of conversion, and then the interpret, the interrelation is basically the strength of the effect. So if we, uh, if we set this to rectangular to polar, and then we up the strength here, all right, you can see what it does.

Joey Korenman (03:06): It basically takes that linear thing and it basically bends it into a circle. Okay. So that’s what the effect does. Um, and you might be wondering why is that useful? Well, like if, if you want to turn the tutorial off after this, this might explain everything for you. Okay. If I, uh, if I take this line, put it up here, actually, I got a better idea. Let’s put it way up here. Let’s actually move it out of the frame. All right. And let’s put a key frame on Y position and go forward one second and move it down here. That’s it. Okay. Now, when we play that, that’s the animation, that’s happening. Very simple. If we, uh, turn the polar coordinates strength all the way up to a hundred, and then we play it, well, now look what it’s doing. All right. It’s taking that vertical motion in our layer and it’s turning it into radial motion.

Joey Korenman (04:03): So that’s really why this effect is so cool. Um, so I’ll show you guys how I made the tunnel, but before I do that, I want to, I just want you to understand a little bit better. Some other ways that this effect can be used. Of course, we’re just scratching the surface here. Um, and there’s actually some, some other really cool things you can do. So let me first turn my adjustment layer off. Let me delete the shape layer. Um, and I’ll show you guys this example, um, that hopefully will, will start giving you some ideas of your own some cool experiments. You could run with this effect and see what you can come up with. So here we’ve got a star and what I’m going to do is I’m going to turn the conversion instead of rectangular to polar. I’m going to say polar to rectangular.

Duration: 00:45:51

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