Fading layers in and out while moving through an environment

You can create animations that fade layers in and out so you can see the information in other layers (creating a layer track). By combining this with an animation that navigates through an environment (by creating a camera track in ArcScene or ArcGlobe or a map view track in ArcMap) or some other track type, you can create very interesting animations.

Creating the group layer animation

A group animations allows you to create an animation that toggles on/off the visibility of layers. You can also provide a blending effect wherein the layers fade in and out when being made visible or invisible.

  1. Add the layers to the application (ArcMap, ArcScene, or ArcGlobe) you want to include in the animation and set their symbology by double-clicking each layer and clicking the Symbology tab. Layers can be used in the animation as individual layers, or they can be used from within a group layer.
  2. Order the layers in the table of contents or within the group layer according to how you want them to animate. The top layer will be animated first.
  3. Click the Animation drop-down menu and click Create Group Animation.
  4. Type a base name for the tracks. This name will display as the track name for each layer, appended by the layer name.
  5. Choose Top-level layers (or a group layer if you created one).
  6. Decide how you want the layers in your group layer animation to become visible.

    If you check One layer at a time, the first layer will become visible, then it will become invisible when the second layer is visible, and so on. If this is unchecked, each layer that becomes visible will remain visible as others become visible. You can check Make layers disappear if you want your layers to all start out visible, then become invisible (either one by one if, you also check One layer at a time, or accumulatively, if One layer at a time is unchecked). In this case, the behavior would be to show all layers except the first one, then all layers except the second one, and so on. You can invert the order of layer visibility in the animation by checking Invert order. For instance, if One layer at a time is unchecked, Make layers disappear is also unchecked, and there are four layers (A, B, C, and D). Checking this option will mean that first layer D will display, followed by layers C and D; then layers B, C, and D; then layers A, B, C, and D.

  7. Check Blend layers when fading if you want the layers to blend as they transition from one to the other. Uncheck this if you don't want any blending of layers to occur.
  8. Use the slider to set the fading transition period when transitioning from layer to layer. Setting the slider closer to None will allocate a smaller fading transitional period. If you want the transitioning from layer to layer to take more time in the animation, move the slider closer to All. In this case, there will be less time in the animation when each layer is fully displayed.
  9. You can loop the animation of the layers within the animation time of 0–1 by setting the Begin time and End time on this dialog box, then checking Create looped animation. For instance, if you want the animation of your layers to happen five times during the animation, you would set the Begin time to 0 and the End time to 0.2.

    If you have already created a group layer animation, you can overwrite it by checking Overwrite existing tracks with the same name. Uncheck this if you don't want to overwrite an existing track.

  10. Click OK.
    Create Group Animation dialog box

    A layer track is created for each layer.

Examining the contents of your group layer animation

After you have created your group layer animation, you should examine the layer animation tracks that have been created. You can use the Animation Manager for examining these tracks.

  1. Click the Animation drop-down menu on the Animation toolbar and click Animation ManagerAnimation Manager.
  2. Click the Tracks tab to view the tracks that have been created, one for each layer in the group layer animation.
  3. Click the Time View tab.

    Notice that each track is colored differently along the track line. When a layer is visible, it is colored green. When it is invisible, it is colored red, and when a layer is in a transitional state (somewhere between visible and invisible), the line is colored yellow.

  4. Click in the Time View display to view the animation at a particular point.
    Group Layer Animation Tracks
    Group Animation Display

    In the above example, the Mesh layer is in a transitional state (colored yellow on the Mesh track line). It is fading out. The Photo.sid layer is also in a transitional state (colored yellow on the track line). It is fading in. The layer Topo.sid is not visible at this time (colored red on the track line).

    You can increase or decrease the duration of the layer visibility by adjusting the keyframes and increasing the green part of the track to which the particular layer is bound. If you choose to blend layers when creating the group animation, you can extend or shorten the yellow part of the track lines. Doing so will lengthen or shorten the animation time where layers are in a transitional state (either becoming visible or invisible).

Creating a camera or a map view track to navigate through the environment

Within the animation time of 0 to 1, you can add as many tracks as you like. You can, for instance, add a camera track (ArcScene or ArcGlobe) or a map view track (ArcMap) to navigate through the scene, globe, or map as the layers are transitioning between each other. Specifically, you can make the camera in ArcScene follow an object through the landscape as different layers are revealed in the display.

Playing or exporting the animation

Once you have created the animation, you can play the animation or export it.

  1. Click the Open animation controls button Open Animation Controls on the Animation toolbar and click the Play button Play.

    You can play the animation in ArcMap, but it looks best after exporting to video.

  2. To export, click the Animation drop-down menu and click Export to Video to create an .avi or .mov file.

Published 6/7/2010