|After a logo style and color scheme was decided upon, it was then created in 3D. Until AE5 was released (which introduced Z-depth), After Effects was largely a 2D program (albeit, the best damned 2D program in the world), but you really couldnt manipulate true 3D objects with extruded sides within the program. That all changed with the plug-in Zaxwerks Invigorator. More than just a plug-in, Invigorator acts like a full-blown 3D program right inside After Effects. It allows you to extrude an EPS file (from either Illustrator or Freehand), and animate it in 3D space.
Invigorator allows you to add color, materials, reflections, edges and a host of other goodies to each 3D object. Invigorator views each Illustrator or Freehand group set as a separate 3D object.
As far as animation goes, the rules are simple: If you know how to animate in After Effects, youll be able to animate Invigorator in 3D space, for it uses the same Timeline and keyframes as After Effects.
Some of what's under the hood:
In Invigorator, the KVEW call letters were angled slightly so that the bottom portion was behind the arc and the top rested above the arc. This also made light react differently to the KVEW as it was animated into position.
Presto magico... instant 3D.
The redesign was for a dual station market; KVEW & KAPP. Once the KVEW logo and animation was complete, I needed to create the exact same movie with KAPP. Invig makes this very easy, for it remembers the position of the original EPS files. By placing the logos in the lower left hand corner in the draw program, Invig easily allows you to replace the kvew with the kapp; all colors, materials, bevels and animation remain intact (just make sure you Save As to a new name or safer yet, duplicate the project in Finder and rename that... Youll thank me later).
Although Invigorator renders fairly quickly; each frame took about 40 seconds per field (or 80 per frame) to render the 3D logo. There were over 20 animations where the 3D logo animation would be used, so based on the quantum-rendering formula* I decided to render out the 2 logos (KVEW & KAPP) separately as Quicktime movies and then use the Quicktime movie in each final render (at about a second per frame) greatly reducing my overall render times.
In the render settings dialogue box (fig. below) I chose the Animation codec because it allows me to create the movie with an embedded alpha channel (Millions+ means alpha), and to compress the movie slightly (at 75) bringing the file size down a bit (it weighed in at mere 14.5 pounds).
By rendering the movie using a Straight alpha channel (versus a pre-multiplied or gay), AE oversamples the edges slightly in the RGB layer meaning that the alpha channel will cut through those over-sampled edges and the anti-aliased pixels will be the color of the logo edges and not the background making for a much cleaner key.
When viewing the finished Quicktime movie it may appear to have aliased edges (stairstepping, below) around the logo - DO NOT BE ALARMED -This is the over-sampling that I was talking about. The alpha channel edges remain pure (fig. 3) and cut the hole through the sampled edge colors instead of the background color.
Things start really looking funky if theres a lot of soft edges with transparency in the logo.
(note the greyscale on the alpha channel indicating transparency)
*formula: (40 seconds) x per field (times) 20+Opens = no brainer.
Coming soon: Creating the Background...