|A Creative COW After EffectsExpressions Tutorial
Allen, TX USA
©Trent Armstrong and CreativeCow.net
In this tutorial from Creative COW Contributing Editor Trent Armstrong, you'll see how to use Expressions to animate reflected light across text. You can get great results using only ingredients included free with AE, including track mattes and the AE Camera.
There is a fairly current beer commercial with some with some very cool text reflection animation. I was curious as to how I could pull that off in AE without any 3rd party plug-ins. So I turned to a very simple expression and got a pretty cool result. Click the image below to play the movie.
Create a Comp called "Reflections". It doesn't really matter how big this Comp is. It only matters that you can get a good feel for what's going on in it. I'm going with 1280x720.
Create a new white solid approximately 1280x1000. We are going to use the Rectangular Mask Tool to cut it into a tall sliver and just need enough pad to feather the mask on the X Axis.
Once you've created the long, tall mask, hitting "f" on the keyboard will twirl down the Mask Feather property. Adjust the X feather to about 130 or until it looks similar to Image 2.
• Create a Camera with a Preset of 35 mm and set its Z Position to 0.
• Open the Auto-Orient Panel and set Auto-Orient to OFF. This can be found under Layer Menu> Transform> Auto-Orient or with the "opt+cmd+O" (Mac) or "alt+ctl+O" (Windows).
• Turn on the 3D switch for the Solid and offset the Anchor Point on the Z Axis to about -800. Then duplicate this solid about 10 times while rotating each new solid a little bit on the Y Axis. The goal is to have the solids all randomly rotated around in a rough cylinder.
If you are able to see the top and bottom edge of the layer, just stretch it tall on the Y Axis until the edges are off screen.
What we have just done is create the environment from which we will take our reflections.
Now, create a new Comp (same settings as before if you like). Name it "Text with Reflections". Using the Text Tool create some nice, fat and tall text. I'm going to use "CREATIVE COW."
Note the following settings:
• Arial Black - Size 130 px
• Height scaled to 115% and Width scaled down to 75%.
• Black Text with a White Stroke
• Stroke set to 8px
• Fill Over Stroke
• Text Centered
Set the Text Layer to 3D and duplicate the text layer once. Then use the Pick Whip to parent "CREATIVE COW 2" to "CREATIVE COW."
Bring the "Reflections" Comp into "Text with Reflections" and make sure it extends at least to the full bounds of the Composition View. Also, put the "Reflections" layer between the the two text layers.
Next, set the Track Matte of layer 2, "Reflections", to Alpha Matte of "Creative Cow 2."
And you should see something that looks like Image 8.
Now the magic happens. Enter expressions!
Open up the "Reflections" Comp, twirl down the camera's rotation, and opt+click or alt+click on the rotation Y Axis' stop watch to reveal the expression window.
Assuming you have named the comps and layers correctly, you can enter the following expression into the expression field and hit "enter" on the number pad or just mouse click outside the field.
-comp("Text with Reflections").layer("CREATIVE COW").rotationY
This expression takes the negative of the rotation value from the "CREATIVE COW" text layer. It uses this number to actually spin the 3D camera in a reverse Pan inside it's 3D environment.
Head back over to the Comp "Text with Reflections" and spin the "CREATIVE COW" layer on its Y Axis to see this in action.
The Track Matte, using the alpha from Layer 1, reveals only the part of the "Reflections" Comp that is inside the body of the text causing the camera's rotation to simulate actual reflections on the text.
You can now rotate the "CREATIVE COW" text to get some nice reveals of the text and the camera provides the reflections!
Check out the project download for the finished product and a little extra "finish".
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