Live Previews with Zaxwerks ProAnimator


Zaxwerks ProAnimator plug-in for After Effects is a great tool for creating 3D object animations right inside After Effects. We use it all the time for text and logo animations, animated background elements, and  various other elements.

Recently a project came across my desk that called for an intricate and precise animation of an airplane flying across a globe. The graphic was supposed to be your typical red line that traces itself across a globe hopping from country to country. A job for ProAnimator? Yes. Was there a catch? Yes.

The problem I faced even before I started was that as far as I knew there was no way to preview custom layer maps in the ProAnimator interface. I was going to have to create the globe and then animate its rotation precisely to the points that the “airplane” was supposed to travel to at the precise times. By default ProAnimator displays a generic place-holder image on your objects when you apply layer maps to them, you can’t preview the actual layer map within ProAnimator. This would obviously make for a lot of tedious trial and error when trying to precisely rotate the globe to specific countries.

There had to be a better way. A few emails back and fourth with my new best friend at Zaxwerks support and I had the answer. There is a way to preview layer maps in the ProAnimator interface! The tutorial below has all the details.

The SuiteTake:
We love ProAnimator here at SuiteTake and highly recommend it. As you delve deeper and deeper into the application you discover more and more things that it can do. The convenience it offers as a plug-in to After Effects is a big productivity boost as well. What I thought to be a rather big limitation of the software is no longer an issue after learning this little trick. By being able to preview layer maps in the ProAnimator interface I feel that it can tackle an even wider variety of 3D projects than I ever thought possible.

About the Author

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Jeff has always been captivated by film and video, so it was only natural that he would attend Columbia College Chicago. He graduated with top honors and began his career as an audio and robo-cam operator for World News Leader, CNN.


Following CNN, Jeff came back home to Chicago and found a position that truly expanded his creative abilities with an outdoor-travel television show. Jeff traveled all across North America--from Alaska to Mexico, capturing the beauty of nature through his lens.


In between those video shoots Jeff was honing his editing skills by assembling both long and short form corporate videos, broadcast television, commercials, and documentaries.


It was his amazing shooting and editing skills that brought Jeff to Edit Creation’s attention. He joined our team in 2008 as a videographer and editor. With 8 years of experience and hundreds of projects in his archive, Jeff is a welcome addition to our team. As a videographer he shoots to edit, seeing the world through his lens. And as an editor Jeff’s vision goes well beyond the screen, tapping into the soul of the project.

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  2. Glad I found this tutorial – I just spent 3 hours banking my head against the wall trying to do the very same thing with a primitive CUBE in PA.

    Thanks for the valuable tip!

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