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Evolution 'Shatter': Blowing text off a page

COW Library : Adobe After Effects Tutorials : Mark Simpson : Evolution 'Shatter': Blowing text off a page
Evolution 'Shatter': Blowing text off a page

by Mark Simpson,
JAM Digital, Redondo Beach, California, USA
©2001 by Mark Simpson. All rights are reserved.Used at CreativeCow.net by kind permission of the author.

Mark Simpson ARTICLE FOCUS:
Mark Simpson
uses Atomic Power Evolution 'Shatter' effect and Adobe Illustrator to simulate text being blown off of a page. Evolution is built into After Effects 5.0. This tutorial should be easily adapted for use with AE 5.


I first tried to do this effect as the result of a question I saw in which an After Effects user was having trouble blowing text off of a wall. I tried it and was having a similar problem, but became obsessed enough that I had to figure out how to do it. So, after several hours and a multitude of different approaches, I finally came upon a solution.


This is how I did it;



PART A (Using Illustrator to create the source images)

As with most of Evolution's effects, the key is in how the source materials are approached and prepared. I have not tried this using Photoshop or any other bitmap based app, so I am unsure that it is possible using these types of programs. I personally doubt that it would be worth trying, as the effect requires more than one absolutely transparent object to be used in the same layer. In the case of Illustrator (or other apps that can create eps files), multiple unfilled objects can be created on the same graphic/layer, leaving the path intact for AE to use.



First I created the background page that I wanted the text to blow off of.

Creating the background

Notice how with everything selected, there is an invisible 720x480 background


1) In Illustrator, I created an unstroked, unfilled box, 720 x 480 pixels. This is the size of the DV NTSC comp I was to create the project in. If you try to use a graphic without this comp sized box, the shatter pieces will disappear as they leave the smaller layer boundaries, being clipped by the border due to shatter not calculating anything outside the source layer.

2) Next I created a smaller, unstroked, 'filled' box, and selected the color. Choose a medium color as absolute black and absolute white will be used later for creating the shatter map, making it hard to see elements during creation (The page color can be changed later after all the individual graphic elements have been created). This was to be used as the background page which the text will blow off of. I used Illustrators 'align' tools to center the visible page against the invisible background.

3) Next I added a graphic to the page, that was intended to remain after the shatter effect blew it's text off of the page.

4) I then selected everything and grouped it, and saved this named as 'background page' in Illustrator 8 format.


Next I created the text graphic that was to be blown away by shatter.

Creating the text graphic

Notice again how with everything selected, there is an invisible 720x480 background

1) Without closing the previous graphic, I added the text to the page as one text object. I then deleted the page background (with it's graphic), leaving only the invisible 720 x 480 path and the visible text to be blown away using shatter. The invisible background must be left in the image so that shatter will not rescale the shatter image, gradient, or shatter map in any way to fit the comp/layer. This procedure also allows for precise positioning of all elements.

2) I then grouped and saved this as an Illustrtor 8 file named 'text'.



.

Next I created the shatter map

Creating the shatter map
Once again, with everything selected, there is an invisible 720x480 background

1) Without closing the previous graphic, I added the text to the page as one text object. I then deleted the page background (with it's graphic), leaving only the invisible 720 x 480 path and the visible text to be blown away using shatter. The invisible background must be left in the image so that shatter will not rescale the shatter image, gradient, or shatter map in any way to fit the comp/layer. This procedure also allows for precise positioning of all elements.

2) I then grouped and saved this as an Illustrtor 8 file named 'text'.




Next I created the shatter map

Creating the shatter map
Once again, with everything selected, there is an invisible 720x480 background


1) Without closing the above Illustrator file, I undeleted the background page so that it was visible again.

2) Then, I deleted the heading textgraphic leaving only the shatter text, background page, and invisible 720 x 480 box.

3) Using the box tool, I created an unstroked, 'filled' box (using absolute white) to cover each letter, making sure that each letter is completely covered yet not touching another box. If you find that the letters are too close together, you can use the text characteristics window to space the letters, and text lines as necessary to allow room, but be sure this change is also reflected in the text graphic so that the shatter pieces and letters line up perfectly.

4) I then changed the background page color to absolute black.

5) I saved the resulting image (including the invisible 720 x 480 box) as an Illustrator 8 file named 'Shatter Map'.




Next, I created the gradient map

Creating the gradient map

Once again, with everything selected, there is an invisible 720x480 background


1) Without closing the above Illustrator file, I deleted the small white shatter map boxes, leaving only the black box representing the background page, and the invisible background page.

2) Then, I replaced the black fill of the background page with a gradient swatch, going from light to dark in the direction I wanted the letters to blow off..

3) I saved the resulting image (including the invisible 720 x 480 box) as an Illustrator 8 file named 'Gradient Map


PART B (animating the shatter project in After Effects)

1) Import all the files created above into a new composition (720 x 480) in AE, and drag them into the timeline.

2) Turn off visibility of the shatter map, and Gradient Map layers.

3) Select (Highlight) the 'text' layer, and apply shatter to it.

4) In the shatter effects window, set the shatter map pop-up and the Gradient pop-up to 'custom'.

5) Select the 'Shatter Map' layer as the custom shatter map to be used.

6) Select the 'Gradient Map' layer as the custom gradient to be used.

7) Making sure that the text layer is above the Background page layer in the timeline window, (so that the text is visible and aligned properly on the background page), move the time pointer ahead a second or two (to the point where you want the effect to begin).

8) ANIMATE THE SHATTER EFFECT...In the effects window set the rendering mode to wireframe plus force field. Adjust the force field depth to '0', position to a location that will cause the letters to move in the desired direction , once they leave the page, and the forcefield radius to a size slightly larger than is required to totally encompass all of the text to be shattered, (set this size after the forcefield center position has been set.) Set the gradient threshold to '0' and create a keyframe. Move the time marker ahead to the point on the timeline where you want the last letter of the text to leave the page, set the gradient threshold to '100', which will create another keyframe.

9) Set the render mode (in the shatter effect window) to render and preview the animation.


10) Place this entire composition in a new comp and import the desired background.

That's all there is!


Notes:

*) If you desire to have the camera view altered in shatter, be sure to apply shatter to the background page also, so that both the shatter text, and background page are oriented identically. When you do this, set the force 1 depth of the background image to a high number (I set mine to '10), so that it doesn't get blown up by it's shatter effect.

*) Set the extrusion depth of the text being shattered to minimum (ie .001). Otherwise, the pieces will look odd as they are blown off the page.

*) An alternate methodology would be to animate the forcefield itself (as opposed to using a gradient map) adjusting the size and position of the forcefield as desired. If you are shattering multiple lines of text using this method, be sure to keep the vertical position of the forcefield constant as it is moved back to the starting point of the next line of text to be blown away. Then set a keyframe before moving it down or enlarging it to the next line of text. Otherwise, it will cross over the next line as it moves back, causing some of the letters to blow away prematurely. You can also create a separate gradient for each line of text, with different intensity levels for each line, to control the order that each line of text will blow off the page



Enjoy,
Mark Simpson

--Evolution will be built into After Effects 5.0 and this tutorial should be easily adaptable for use with AE 5.

### Would you like to know more about Mark and see other articles written by him? Click here.


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Comments

Evolution 'Shatter': Blowing text off a page
by Kamran Shaikh
Due to the nature of the shatter effect? Its starts of in the beginning of the timeline. how can we delay it to shatter at a later time?
i have after effects cs3 and have imported text from photoshop with alpha i want to shatter the text. i have tried reducing the radius of the force 1&2 in shatter effect to conform to the composition size of the text 400x150. i want the shatter to start after 5 seconds of the text being there. the text has scaling and position keyframes but thats about it.
is it because its a psd file. bitmap?
do i need to convert it to a vector file in illustrator?


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