Trapcode Tao

Paths From TAO Lights Group

The Path From TAO Lights group allows you to define the path using the motion path from animated After Effects lights in the same composition.

taolights_path_ui

When enabled, the Paths from TAO Lights option uses motion paths from lights in the same comp which have names that begin with TAO (in all caps). For example, lights named “TAO Light 1” or “TAO motion path 02” will work, but names like “tao” or “01 TAO” will not work. Lights that do not have this name prefix are used to light the scene, but the motion paths from the lights will not be used to create paths and geometry in Tao.

The most simple setup is to use the motion path from a Point light. But a Spot light maybe also be used for more control, as Spot lights have rotation properties that Tao uses to set the orientation of the geometry along the path. In some cases, it might be desirable to turn off Auto-Orient for the light (Layer > Transform > Auto-Orient) as Tao has its own auto-orientation that will orient the segments to the path.

path_from_lights

For more control over the way lights are used, Tao has a detailed set of naming conventions to achieve specific results. See the end of this page for more details. The TAO Lights Mode pop-up menu gives you two options for how Tao interprets the motion path from a TAO light.  

  • Entire Path: Uses the entire motion path to create a static shape.
  • Build-up: Causes the animation from the motion path to draw, or “write on” the path over time. 
  • Build-up and Remove: Causes the animation from the motion path to draw, or “write on” the path over time, then remove the shapes along the path behind it, controlled by the Remove Tail [% to keep] setting below. 
  • Build-up (fast): Causes the animation from the motion path to draw, or “write on” the path over time. Fast mode is useful for very large and long structures where only the newest part is actually visible, as it can disregard the older parts of the path.
  • Build-up and Remove (fast): Causes the animation from the motion path to draw, or “write on” the path over time, then remove the shapes along the path behind it, controlled by the Remove Tail [% to keep] setting below. Fast mode is useful for very large and long structures where only the newest part is actually visible, as it can disregard the older parts of the path.

light_paths_Buildup

If your animated light gets its motion path from a source other than keyframes (such as with expressions or parenting), you can use Duration if no Keyframes [sec] to specify how long you’d like the animation to be.

The Size from Radius checkbox allows you to use the Radius value of the TAO light to determine the size of the Tao geometry. When the Radius of the light is animated over time, this can create tapered edges to the path (as seen below). The entire tapered path can then be offset along the path using the Offset property in the Offset group in Tao.

sizeFromRadius

Fractal Amp from Falloff Distance allows you to control the amount of fractal displacement by using the Falloff Distance value of the TAO light. Note that in order for this to work, the Fractal Displacement > Amplitude must be adjusted to a non-zero number. If the TAO Lights Mode pop-up menu is set to one of the Build-up modes, you can enable Move OAS with Build-up, which will move the Offset Animation Sequence (OAS) with the build-up. This is useful for creating more customized build-up animation sequences. More information about using OAS can be found in the Offset group page in this documentation. When the Segment > Segment Mode pop-up menu is set to Extrude N-gon, Move Texture with Build-up can be used to make the texture move along with the build-up. The TAO Lights Mode pop-up menu must be set to Build-up for this option to be available.

TAO Light Name Modifiers When Tao creates paths from multiple lights in the same comp, Tao gives the same properties to each TAO light path and its geometry by default. These are also the same settings given to paths generated by Tao or with After Effects masks. Because of this, the name of each TAO light can be modified to precisely control how Tao works with its motion path. These naming conventions allow for a great variety of effects to be achieved from the same instance of Tao.

For example, a light may be named “TAO seg:010” meaning that the path should have 10 segments, no matter what the Segment > Segments setting is. Note that all numbers MUST be given three digits. So the number one should be written as “001”.

Below is an extensive list of all light name modifiers: seg:NNN - sets number of segments in path (cannot be more than Segment > Segments) seg-NNN - decreases number of segments in path (so, if Segment > Segments is 100 and seg-025 is used, only 75 segments will be in the path) sid:NNN - sets number of sides in a segment (Max 999) sid-NNN - decreases number of sides sid+NNN - increases number of sides (Max after increase is 999) sx:NNN - sets size X for segments sy:NNN - sets size Y for segments sz:NNN - sets size Z for segments s0 - sets size X, Y, and Z all to 100 (for example, a perfect sphere) and is shorthand for “sx:100 sy:100 sz:100” tex:0 - switches off Texture for this path ofs:0 - switches off Offset for this path rep:0 - switches off Repeat Paths for this path tfm:0 - switches off transforms for this path tfm:1 - switches on transforms for SPHERE, CUBE, LINE (explained below) ref:0 - turns off all reflections (Textures > Specular Map and Material & Lighting > Image Based Lighting) for path mod:e - sets Segment Mode (Segment > Segment Mode) to Extrude N-gon mod:n - sets Segment Mode to Repeat N-gon mod:s - sets Segment Mode to Repeat Sphere

Different name modifiers can be combined to produce multiple modifications. For example, a light may be named “TAO seg:010 mod:s tex:0” to create 10 spheres without texture on the path.

NOTE: AE light names are limited to 32 characters.

Special TAO Lights

There are also special types of Tao lights that can be created by giving them the following names. TAO SPHERE - creates a single sphere. The position of the light may be keyframed to move the sphere around. Other modifiers may be used in combination, for example “TAO SPHERE sid:005 tex:0” creates a coarsely meshed (five sided) sphere without texture. TAO LINE - draws lines between two lights. Create two lights with names “TAO LINE A” and “TAO LINE B” for example. A line will be drawn between them using the settings in Tao (repeater, texture, etc.). TAO CUBE - creates a single cube at the light’s position. TAO LUMI - creates a Tao Lumi light. These unique lights add light to any geometry in their reach (controlled by the light’s Radius value), and provides more accurate lighting for Tao geometry than native After Effects lights. Up to 8 Tao Lumi lights may be used.