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Creating Paper Ribbons and Confetti

Creating Paper Ribbons and Confetti
Adobe After Effects Tutorial


Create Ribbons & Confetti in AE

Joe Chao (Cao Jun) Joe Chao,
Jiangsu, China
©2005 Joe Chao and CreativeCow.net.

Article Focus:
Often for festivals and celebrations, we are asked to create animations involving colorful ribbons and confetti. In this tutorial, Joe Chao creates the ribbons and confetti and then demonstrates a couple of ways to shoot them out of a cannon. This animation would be useful, not just for Christmas, but for any festival.




Christmas is coming soon. It is quite an important festival that we are often asked to add some festival atmosphere for the videos during Christmas and New Year festival. Colorful ribbons and paper shatters are often involved in these scenes. I once read it from someone's post here that ribbons and shatters can all be created in AE. He motioned "echo", but didn't tell many details. I was also interested in such effects, so I spent some time on studying it and finally found it. After that, I saw some other posts about this, so I think it might be helpful to show an easy-to-follow tutorial. In fact, the whole process is very simple, but the result is quite interesting. Download the movie and project files from above and follow along.


Creating the Ribbon



First, you need to create a new comp, name it as "ribbon_1". We are going to create the first ribbon in it. Set the composition settings as you like. (PAL/NTSC/ETC, I set it as a PAL video format)

  • Create a solid layer of which the size is 15*10, and convert it into a 3D layer. It might not to be a good idea to create a white solid or a black solid. A colorful solid would be better for the following steps. I made a yellow one, and I will call this solid layer "the yellow solid" in the following text.

  • Create another solid, (I made a black one, because its color doesn't matter) Set the size the same as the comp's settings. Draw a curve like this with your pen tool. The shape of the curve will decide the shape of the ribbons, so it could be better to create a smooth curve than a curve with a lot of sharp angles.

Here is my curve:
Curve

  • Copy the data of mask shape and paste it to the position property of the yellow solid layer. Now, you can see the solid move along the path. The black solid is no longer useful, hide it or just delete it.

  • Select the yellow solid, set the auto-orientation property of it by clicking the menu: Layer/transform/auto-orientation (or just push “Ctrl+ Alt +O”), and select the "orient along the path" option. Then open the layer rotation settings on the timeline, set “X rotation” to 90.

  • Open the position key frames, select all of them and adjust the positions of them. Let the motion of the solid begin from the center of the comp. I meant that the first key frame's position must be (0,0,0)


Animating the Ribbon


Drag the comp "ribbon_1" into it. Convert it into a 3D layer, and don't forget to turn on the collapse transformation option, which is in your timeline here:

Timeline


Add Effects/ Time/Echo to this layer. Set the filter like this:

Effects/Time/Echo


Now a ribbon has been made.


Tips:
  • "Echo time" decides what the ribbon will look like. I suggest that it should be set as a small number, or the ribbon will look broken.
  • "Number of echoes" decides how long the ribbon will be.
  • "Echo operator" is a very important factor, and only the option "composite in front" & "composite in back" is acceptable if you are going to make a ribbon. The difference between these two options is that they will give you different results when your ribbon goes across itself. In such cases, only one of the options can work well. Try switching it if your ribbons look strange in intersect parts.


Now, look at your first ribbon. Try rotating, moving or scaling it. Amazing, Isn't it? You can even change the width of the ribbon by scaling it in Z-axis. Also can you adjust the motion speed by adjusting the time stretch property. Then create some lights in your scene. They can cast highlights on your ribbon as if the ribbon was made in 3D software. Well, I think your ribbon is very beautiful now.


Drag the picture of Santa into the comp. Add key frames for position property. Let it jump out from below the screen.


Duplicate the ribbon and adjust their properties of rotation, position, time stretch, scale and color (by adding a filter "Hue/Saturation"). Array them on your time line. Make them spurt out from the column in the Santa's hand.


Tips:

  • Creating some other different ribbons in the same way will make your clip more beautiful.

  • If you replace the little solid in the comp "Ribbon_1" with the color bar included in the project file, you will find some other interesting results.


Creating the Confetti


A particle system will surely be involved. The filter Particle Playground & Trapcode Particular can both work well. I give both examples for them in my project file. In my opinion, the key point in creating a "paper shatters or confetti" effect is to create an ideal particle, then add some random factors.


Create a new 40*40 comp named square.

Then create a solid layer (it should be smaller than the comp). Convert it into a 3D layer, and add key frames for its rotation property. Let it rotate like a rolling paper shatter.

Turn back to the Main comp. Drag in the comp "square" and hide it. Create a solid layer. Apply Effects/Tropcode/Particular for it. The settings are like this:

Trapcode settings


If you do not like to use the plugin above, Particle Playground can also work.

What we should do is just to apply a filter Hue/Saturation to the sold in the square comp. Add key frames to vary the color. Then return to the main comp, apply Effects/simulation/particle playground to it. The settings are like this:

Particle Playground Effect Controls

The last step: After decorating your comp with some titles and backgrounds as your personal interests dictate, render your animation and enjoy it.


Maybe I can say "Merry Christmas" to you guys here in advance!



Feel free to ask questions in the After Effects forum at CreativeCOW.net.



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