ArcGIS Pro to After Effects: Animating Lines

Blog Post created by smcgeeesriuk-esridist Employee on Jun 30, 2017

Requirement: ArcGIS Pro, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe After Effects.


This tutorial is how I created this drawing-like animation of the Tour De France in After Effects from ArcGIS Pro.

Gif Tour De France

In ArcGIS Pro, I exported the map as an SVG. This is done in ArcGIS Pro by selecting Share - Map and then SVG. 


Below is the file I was left with. Note that it exported the basemap texture as well as the lines I wanted to animate on a map.


SVG exported file

//Side note! - We're using the new Firefly World Imagery as the basemap.


After Effects currently doesn't have the SVG import functionality. So an in-between software is required. I'll be using Adobe Illustrator. 


In illustrator, opening the exported SVG map file.


Actually it's too accurate for the purposes of the animation. There's currently 138,322 vertices/ points for all of the lines. We need to downscale this as each individual road/ bend wont be noticeable at such a scale.


To do this, select the lines and go to Object - Path - Simplify 


For this I used 35% Curve precision and 15 degrees angle threshold.


Gif of point comparison


As you can see, this is barely noticeable from afar. Although alter these parameters for your project. If it's a short/ zoomed in shot, then you may find that you don't need to use this tool as much. 


Save the project as an .ai file.


In After Effects, import the saved .ai file.


Drag it onto your timeline in after effects.


Right click the layer on your timeline and select "Create Shapes from Vector Layer"

Create shapes


This creates a new layer in your timeline. It'll be called the layer name + "Outlines".


The likelihood is that if you expand this layer, then expand contents. The bottom layer is going to be the basemap. We can hide this for now.


The final step is to actually add the animation to the line.


Make sure that the contents of your layer is expanded. There's an "Add" just above the layers. Select this and "Trim Paths"


AE Trim paths


You'll see under all of your layers that the trim paths option is now available. 


It's important that you select the clock next to the "End" Trim Path options.

AE Keyframe

Then at the start of your timeline, set this to 0. Then drag the slides to the end, set it to 100%. With the stopwatch icon selected, it should create key frames automatically.


By default it will animate every line at the simultaneously. Simply change the "Trim Multiple Shapes" drop down to "Individually" for the 1 line to grow.


This should now animate in your preview window. Note that it animates in layer order. So if you do have more than 1 layer, make sure they're in the correct order. If you see they are going backwards from the way you'd like. Then keep the "End" option in trim paths to 0% and only change the start percentage at the end to 100%. 


Every project is different! But this is a brief overview of how it's done. It should only take 10-20 minutes to follow this tutorial.


Open to suggestions and comments! - I will try and optimise a workflow for polygons and points soon. Also looking into 3D from Pro to AE.