In this tutorial, Chris Bobotis demonstrates twisting a filmstrip using Forge FreeForm in Adobe After Effects. This tutorial assumes you are comfortable with the notion of 'Pre-comping or 'nesting' and the After Effects 'Offset filter' + 'Ramp' filters.
Download the files necessary to complete the project here.
In the ''ff22_cow_filmstrip folder'' you should find:
This is an After Effects project which has the whole of the sequence pre-built
This is an After Effcts ''Favorites'' format - This ''Favorite'' contains all Forge FreeForm 2 data we used to create the Filmstrip sequence including keyframe data. If you are not familiar with After Effects ''Favorites'' please study this in the After Effects manual, this is quite a powerful addition to After Effects as of V.4.0 and is definitely worthwhile learning.
In the ''(footage)'' folder you should have:
The Creative Cow logo in Adobe Illustrator Format
A seamless (horizontal) tile in Adobe Photoshop - this .pict file contains RGB + Alpha Channel data.
- In After Effects create a new composition at 720 pixels x 167 pixels (the same size as the ''filmstrip_tile.pct'' file) call this ''Filmstrip Comp''.
- Import the ''filmstrip_tile.pct'' file and place it in the ''Filmstrip Comp''.
- Import the ''COW.ai'' file and place it in the ''Filmstrip Comp''.
- Create a new solid at 176 pixels x 113 pixels. Call this ''Cow Gradient B_ground - Solid''. We will use this solid as a background for the ''Creative Cow'' logo file.
- On the ''Cow Gradient B_ground - Solid'' use the After Effects ''Ramp'' filter, which can be found under ; Effect > Render > Ramp. See below.
- Shift select both the ''COW.ai'' and the ''Cow Gradient B_ground - Solid'' layers and reposition these layers so that they fall in the first frame to the left of the ''filmstrip_tile.pct'' layer.
- Duplicate the layers and reposition the duplicates into the second frame of the ''filmstrip_tile.pct'' layer. and so on until you fill all frames.
* This composition should look something like this; see below.
Note: We have illustrated that the image you placed within the filmstrip's frame can be a solid and/or an imported Illustrator eps but this could be just about anything that can be generated in After Effects including another Comp, Text, Path Text or any filter applied to a solid as well it could be an imported animeted sequence... in essence just about anything that can be generated with or imported into After Effects can be used in Forge FreeForm 2.
- Create a new composition at 720 pixels x 167 pixels (the same size as the ''Filmstrip Comp'') call this ''Filmstrip Offset Comp''.
- Select the ''Filmstrip Comp'' and place this into your ''Filmstrip Offset Comp''.
- Create a new solid that measures 720 pixels x 167 pixels (your comp size). Call this solid ''AE Ramp - Solid''. Here again we will use the After effects ''Ramp'' filter on this solid see below for appropriate settings.
* The layer should look something like this:
- Then select the ''Filmstrip Comp'' layer in the After effects ''Time Layout'' window and then click on ''Switch/Modes''. The ''Track Matte'' option will appear, select ''Luma Matte'' as your setting.
* This composition should now look something like this:
Note: I used this effect to give the illusion that the filmstrip is coming out from a black background seen in the animation and into the ''spotlight'' so to speak. This also illustrates that Forge freeForm will use Alpha channel data reagrdles of how it is generated i.e. from a 32 bit pict/tiff etc. file or if the Alpha is generated (as in this case) by After Effects itself.
- In the same composition we will now select the ''Filmstrip Comp'' and apply the After effects Offset'' filter. Effect > Distort > Offset. For the appropriate settings see the attached the next four graphics:
Note: This creates a loop sequence of the filmstrip moving from left to right.
To view the offset loop movie, click here.
- Create a new composition at say 400 pixels x 300 pixels (smaller than the ''Filmstrip Offset Comp'') call this ''Filmstrip + FreeForm2 Comp''. We can now go ahead and place the ''Filmstrip Offset Comp'' into our new composition.
- Apply Forge FreeForm 2 to this layer. Effect > Forge > FreeForm 2
- The first thing you will notice is that the image contained in the layer has been stretched out of proportion. See below:
Not to worry we will deal with this by going the AE Effect Window which now contains Forge FreeForm 2, once there look for ''Input Size Controls'' -- see below.
Click on the ''Width'' numeric input and key in a value of 720 as indicated in graphic below.
Then go to the ''Height'' numeric input and key in a value of 167 (see below).
What you have just done is tell FreeForm 2 what size of a NURBS patch you require.
- On launch Forge FreeForm 2 will display 4 Control Points and corresponding Tangents in the AE Comp Window. These are located Top Left Corner, Top Right Corner, Bottom Left Corner of the layer that you have applied Forge FreeForm to. Or a subdivision of 1 x 1. This will not suffice for this effect so we will go ahead and add more Control Points and Tangents to our NURBS Patch by going to ''Number of Control Points and creating a 2 x 1 subdivision (see below).
This will add two more Control Points and Tangents to the NURBS Patch, one at Top middle and one at Bottom middle of the Image/NURBS Patch.
- We are now ready to start animating the Control Points and Tangents. Go to the Effect Controls Window > Forge FreeForm 2 > 3D View Presets (see below) and click on ''Top'', this will give you a top view of the NURBS patch.
Now select the Control Points and Tangents closest to you and manipulate them. Then go back to ''3D View presets'' select ''Bottom''and do the same to so that they look something like this:
- Time to start moving our NURBS Patch in 3D space. To do this go to frame 0 then go to Effect Controls Window > Forge FreeForm 2 > Object Controls. Here we'll access and use Object position and rotation on the X,Y and Z axes.
- Go to frame 0 and set a keyframe then set the ''Object Control's' settings as such:
- Go to frame 8:00 then set the ''Object Control's' settings as such:
- Go to frame 15:29 then set the ''Object Control's' settings as such:
- Now go to Effect Controls Window > Forge freeForm 2 > Camera Controls and set the values as such:
- We will now adjust the Spotlight properties by going to Effect Controls Window > Forge FreeForm 2 > Spotlight 1 Controls. Set your values for the Spotlight as such:
- The next thing we need to do is to increase the Mesh Subdivision and Antialiasing levels. Go to Effect Forge FreeForm 2 ''Mesh Subdivision'' and Antialiasing, located at the bottom most of the Forge freForm 2 Control and set your Mesh Subdivision to 40 and your Antialiasing to Low. See below.
Note: Mesh subdivision is animateable so that you can up your Mesh when the NURBS Patch is closer to you and lower it as it moves away from you. Rule of thumb -- more mesh=more definition, more definition=more rendering time. Experiment with this setting to see just how high of a mesh subdivsion you really require for your particular animation. Antialiasing at low or Medium more than suffices for most uses of freeorm 2. A setting of High antialiasing in Forge FreeForm 2 is only meant for extreme deformations of the NURBS patch.
- Then to add a little more variance to your animation go to After Effects scale transformation in the Time Layout Window, at frame 0 set a keyframe and keep the value at 100, at frame 8:00 scale it up to 140%, then back tp 100% at frame 15:29.
That's it we are done... well not quite, one thing I forgot to mention is that you can save these settings (including keyframe data) as a ''favorite'' and re-use this again at a later time. To do so simply select Forge freeorm 2 in Effects Control Window then go to Effect > Save Favorite and name it to taste.
To view the final filmstrip movie, click here.
P.S. To receive a demo version of Forge FreeForm 2, simply e-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org please specify if you want the Mac or WIn version.
Pop in to the Adobe After Effects COW or the Forge FreeForm COW to discuss this tutorial or other questions regarding Forge FreeForm2.