|Bezier Warp under the distort menu is a great tool for bending objects. In this third section of our light storm tutorial, we will use Bezier warp to precisely bend the light storm to fit the scene. You can even key frame the motion to follow an object or figure. If you need to change the direction of the light storm, set the width scale to (minus) -100%. You can also rotate the light storm into an optimal start position for bezier warp to take over.
Bezier warp is simple to use. There are four corner points that each have two tangent handles. Move all of the vertex and tangent handles into position to achieve the desired bend. The image can get a little chunky when tangents are crossed in an abnormal way. It takes some practice but I have had no trouble bending the image 180 degrees (although I might have trouble twisting it into a pretzel).
To keep the light storm from appearing too static, try setting keyframes at the beginning and end of the clip for each of the 12 bezier points. Even a little bit of motion will bring it alive.
Bezier warp is a render hog but the results are worth it. I keep the elasticity setting to the default stiff. The normal, loose and liquid settings will increase render times even further without much difference in appearance for this exercise.
A soft edge mask with feathering set around 50 may be needed to soften the ends if your light storm finishes in the middle of frame as in the hockey puck illustration.
Youll note that I also used the light storm for a background element behind the puck. I slowed it down using time stretch and colored it blue with colorama. (I told you it was versatile!)
As always, use transfer modes to taste. You can also use your new light storm clip as a displacement map, track matte or as a compound blur element.
Did you miss one of the sections? View:
Part One: Using Vector Paint to create a color wall of splotches
Part Two: Motion Blur with Shutter Angle and Phase Settings
Would you like to see some examples of how I used this technique? Click here
Discuss this technique or others in the After Effects forum at CreativeCOW.net.
Here's how some of the other AE COWs made use of Bill's tutorial:
Click on the name to see the movie. We'll add more names if more people submit their links.