Adding Z-Depth to your Logo Using AE5 PB
Adding Z-Depth to your Logo Using AE5 PB
by Roland R. Kahlenberg, Singapore, Singapore
Video * Motion Graphics * Original Music
©2001 by Roland R. Kahlenberg. All rights are reserved. Used at CreativeCow.net by kind permission of the author.
Ever wanted to extrude a logo in After Effects but are on a tight budget and always looking to tinker about? Read on as Roland Kahlenberg demonstrates a cool way to introduce some z-depth to our objects in AE 5.0 Production Bundle. We'll be using Evolution's original Shatter or AE5.0's rendition of the same plug-in. The only source file is the COW's very own logo.
|Here are the project files: Download them so you can follow along. These are .sit files, if you're on Windows and don't have the Stuffit Expander, download it here. It's free!
We'll be extruding the COW logo in one part of the tutorial and a Text Layer in another. They'll both cover different issues when extruding objects in 3D. The only one I've left out is extruding a layer the size of its comp. That is pretty straight forward once you've covered the two parts so I'll leave that as an exercise for you.
Another interesting gem is the use of an If/Else Expression which will allow you to build some smarts into your Expressions.
Let's begin by opening up the 3D Logo_Text.aep project file. In the timeline, you'll notice two finished Comps: Logo FinalComp and 3D Text FinalComp. Each has a Comp nested within.
Select the Logo Comp and immediately do a RAM Preview. See if you like the results enough to continue with the rest of the tutorial. Next, select the Cow_Front Layer and hit "u" on the keyboard followed by two quick pokes at the "e" key with the Shift key depressed. The "u" will display all keyframes within the layer while the 2 quick "e"s will display Expressions within the selected Layer. As a general AE tip, The "u" and "e" shortcut keys work across multiple layers. The Shift key is a modifier key which displays the result of the most recent shortcut while retaining the display of previous keyframes/Expressions.
Forget about the Adjustment Layer at this point in time. All it does is provide us with a Perspective Shadow for our extruded layer. Poke its eyeball to switch it off if it's distracting you. We'll get it later towards the very end of the tutorial.
You should be seeing a timeline similar to the one in (Figure 1 below). Other than the Expression, nothing should look too complicated to even a novice AE user. Just a few keyframes placed strategically within the timeline. The trick to extruding the logo is all done by the Shatter plug-in.
Now let's create a new Comp. Call it FinalComp for a lack of a better term. Now drag our source layer which can be found in the SourceFile folder within the project Window. Do this with the shortcut keys "Ctrl + /". We'll then create a Pre-Comp with this layer: "Ctrl + C" and choose the second option to move all its inherent and assigned attributes to the PreComp. Name this PreComp as Logo PreComp.
Now apply the Shatter plug-in: Effect -> Simulation -> Shatter. Switch the view to Rendered and select Custom from the Shape dropdown menu. Next Select Logo PreComp as our Custom Shatter layer and set Extrusion to a value of 0.6.
Since we're not using Shatter to splinter our layer, we'll have to change a couple of the default settings. Specifically, set Force 1 & 2's Strength to zero, and within Physics, set Gravity to zero. Twirl down Textures and change the Front and Back Modes layers' designation to Logo PreComp, and the Side Mode to Color. See Figure 2 for the Shatter settings thus far.
Let's apply a couple of keyframes to make Shatter's camera rotate around the logo. Set a keyframe at time time=0 to zero and another keyframe at the four-second mark with a setting of 1 revolution (360 degrees). Scroll down the timeline to see a preview.
You should see your logo extruded and rotating. However, it gets dark when the Back Mode of the layer becomes visible. This is caused by the Lighting -> Light Depth value, which is not moving in tandem with the object. We'll fix this with an Expression. Now create a keyframe for LightDepth. Don't worry about the value because' we'll delete it shortly. We need it to make it easier to show just the camera's Y-Rotation and LightDepth values in the Timeline. Type "u" to show just the keyframes for the layer.
Create an Expression for LightDepth with an "Alt + MouseClick" combo action on the Stopwatch icon next to LightDepth within the Timeline. With the default Expression highlighted, use the pickwhip to select Y-Rotation. Hit the Enter key and use the pickwhip again (ensure that no text is highlighted in the Expression text box) and this select LightDepth.
With these in place, we'll now type in a statement to declare a couple of variables. Specifically, type in: "yRot=" (without the quotation marks) followed by the first line. In front of the second line type in "lDepth=", again without the quotation marks. I've added these here only to be consistent.
Thus far, we've created and declared two Expression variables which is pretty much self explanatory as far as what they refer to. We'll now do the tricky bit which is to write an If/Else statement that'll make the LightDepth react according to the y-Rotation values with the sole intent of illuminating our logo throughout its 360 degree rotation.
Type the following statement after the last line in the Expresson text box:
Note: Refer to Fig 1 to see the completed Expression.
Delete the LightDepth keyframe we had created earlier. Now scroll across the Timeline and your logo shoud be illuminated thoughrout its rotation. Everything is fine, but let's add some bevelled edges. To do this, we'll have to go to the original PreComp layer. Do this by "Alt + DoubleMouseClick" on the layer's name. We'll be transported back to the original pre-PreComped layer. Now apply Perspective -> Bevelled Edges. The default setting of 0.1 for Edge Thickness is a little too thick, so let's adjust it to about 0.5.
Now jump back to the FinalComp layer by clicking on its tabbed name in the Timeline window. Things look OK, but I'm kinda fussy and would like the back of the extruded layer to display the logo without a mirrored look. To do this we'll have to create another logo layer with a mirrored look. This will offset Shatter's own mirrored look as the logo rotates.
Let's create the Back Mode layer for Shatter to use. Do this by duplicating the original layer. Select the layer in the Project Window and press, "Ctrl +D". "Double Click" the layer to open it in the Timeline Window. Type "Ctrl + Shift + S" to display the layer's scale properties dialog window. Set Preserve to None and Horizontal Scale to -100% of source. Hit the Enter key. Rename this Comp, BackMode Layer or anything you want as long as you can easily tell that it's the layer that you'll be using for the BackMode Layer.
Select the FinalComp Composition. Go to the Project Window and "Ctrl + /" this BackModeLayer comp. Poke it's eyeball to switch it off. Select the Shatter Layer and under Textures, make the appropriate change for BackModeLayer. Scroll through the Timeline and you'll be able to see the logo and all its text in an easy to read manner as it rotates.
For the finishing touches, create an Adjustment Layer the length of the composition and apply the Perspective -> Drop Shadow plug-in to give the layer more depth.
Additionally, take a look at my CowFront layer in the FinalComp Composition. Notice that I've added an Expression for Specular Reflection. Two quick "e"s on the keyboard if you don't see it (Figure 3 below). The idea here is to create an animated glint as the logo rotates. I'm basically using the same Expression here as I did for Light Depth, of course with a different formula.
That's all there is to it. You can make some adjustments to Focal Length to simulate a truer 3D perspective as the logo rotates. We'll leave that as an exercise as using AE's own 3D camera will provide the same look and feel.
In the next Extruded 3D tutorial, we'll look at creating other extruded objects such as text. The principles we will apply then will allow us to extrude irregularly shaped objects. In the meantime have fun with this.
Cheers and God Bless.
Roland is a leader in the Adobe After Effects forum at CreativeCow.net.
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