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Laser Writing in After Effects

CreativeCOW presents Laser Writing in After Effects -- Adobe After Effects Tutorial


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Write with lasers. Rob Mize uses After Effects to create a laser effect and controls it with motion paths created from shapes layers. The use of track mattes enables the laser to burn text, shapes and logos in backgrounds. No 3rd party plug-ins required.



Play Video TutorialDownload Project Files


Comments

Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Marco Carbone
dear Rob
that's amazing…but i don't get it already…too difficult for my knowledge or probably just to translate your explication…. i tried to do the same but with other words… i don't understand for example why your motion path layer moves in the same position of the text layer and not mine… more little in scale respect my text and different in position.
Then, the text layer runs more high respect motion path, when motion path ends the 1st letter the text layer is finishing the second…and so on…too many question the i can't be able to answer. :(
i will try again in the next few three or four hundred years hope…
thanks for everything!

Marco
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Pa-Modu Jack
I solved it somehow in this way: Instead of pick whiping the expression ending point I pick whip the Expression Time to the Glow birth rate
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
That's good news...
Sounds like I was on the wrong track, anyway.

Rob Mize
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Hi, Chuck...
I take it the problem is with the Shatter Map?
Controlling the text shatter is, admittedly, a difficult balance of a number of parameters, plus, the design of the Gradient Layer and include:
Force 1: Location, Radius, Strength
Gradient: Shatter Threshold
Physics: Gravity, Gravity Direction, Gravity Inclination

My settings were the result of considerable adjustment, observation and re-adjustment. The settings of your parameters will depend on your particular design.
Hope this helps... if not, give me some more info and we'll figure it out.

Regards,

Rob Mize
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Good Morning, George...
Matching the Null position (and consequently, the other elements) to the "Write-On" is a bit of an exercise in adjustment. Basically, in the Outline Layer (shape layer) you will need to add keyframes to adjust the value of the Trim Paths > End parameter. Check the tutorial, about 11:45 in for more detail.
As far as the "heat"... I think you are describing a problem with the "Glow" layer. If that is the case, check the Longevity setting for the particles... mine is set at 2 secs.
Keep me posted on your progress...

Rob Mize
@Rob Mize
by George Cox
Morning Rob,
Finally sorted. I added a few extra keyframes and now the laser follows the letters perfect. I reset my "Flame" Longivity to 1.5 seconds and it is looking much better.
Thank you for your help.
George.
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Hi George...
Your text should default to center of the comp. I find that regardless of where the text and shape layers are positioned... when the path is pasted into the Null's position, it is in the center of the screen. This is due to the position of the path of the shape, relative to the position of the shape layer itself. However, once the the Null's position keyframes are pasted, they can be re-positioned as I described in the previous post.
I take it, that the Laser's Ending Point is what you pick-whipped to the Null's Position.
A thought... check that the Laser's solid layer is, in fact, the same size as your comp and that Scale and Position haven't been changed.
Please keep me posted on your progress... we'll get this to work for you.

Rob Mize
@Rob Mize
by George Cox
Rob,
I found the text fault. I was creating a new solid and then selecting the Text Tool rather than New Layer>Text.
I still have a problem with the laser. It now follows the text correctly but lags behind the "write on" and also how can I move the "Red Heat" to follow the "Yellow Heat" sooner. A letter is almost formed before the red starts.
Thank you for your patience..
@Rob Mize
by George Cox
Rob,
The text problem is sorted. It was me not following your instructions properly.
The "Beam Layer" is comp size. The Beam has been resized to 100%. The Start Position has been moved to off screen, top left and the End Point Pick Whipped to the Null.
Any suggestions for the "Red Heat" to follow the "Yellow Heat" closer?
Thanks again,
George.
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Before I create New Text, I select center justify in the Paragraph Panel. Then when I do create New Text, the position defaults to the center of the screen, center justified.

However, you CAN reposition the motion path that you paste to the null. Click on the Position parameter of the Null layer, you should see ALL the keyframes selected. Now click the motion path in the composition and move the entire motion path where you want it. Try using the Arrow keys to nudge the path into position.

Let me know if this helps; it not, we'll try something else.

Rob Mize
@Rob Mize
by George Cox
Rob,
Thanks for the reply.
I have clicked on Centre Justify but unless I click in the Composition Window nothing gets typed.
When I Pick Whip the Laser to the Null, the Null is on the first vertex that I set. If I scrub through the Timeline the null follows the letters but the Laser does not. It goes way off and makes the same shape as the letter but at what appears to be a larger scale.
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by George Cox
Rob,
Two questions.
First. I am having trouble with the laser. I alt/click the Ending Point Stop Watch and Pick Whip it to the Null. It scribes the letters but on playback it is nowhere near the letters.
Second. You say not to click in the Composition Window but to just type and the letters will Justify. I tried this but get nothing and when I deselect the type tool it does not show the words against the layer name. Could you please clarify about not clicking in the Composition Window.
Thank you for your time.
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Phillip Johnson
Ive been having some trouble with the Null object, Once i create it and paste on the key frames from the shape outline, its position is different from that of the outline. and begins to disappear by the time i get to the end of pasting the rest of the letters in my comp? any suggestion i could really use the help?
@Phillip Johnson
by Rob Mize
Hi, Phillip...

This is probably a result of the position of the text in the composition. However, you CAN reposition the motion path of the null. Click on to the Position parameter of the Null layer, you should see ALL the keyframes selected. Now you can click onto the motion path in the composition and move the entire motion path where you want it. Try using the Arrow keys to nudge the path into position.

Please let me know if this helps solves your problem... if not, we'll re-think it.

Regards...

Rob

Rob Mize
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Good Morning...
I believe you are trying to modify the expression created with the pickwhip. You should be able to click in the expression field and then type in the modification at the end of the expression.
Please keep me posted on your progress...
Regards...

Rob Mize
@Rob Mize
by Pa-Modu Jack
hi Rob,
When you Alt-Click the Time stop watch of the Laser you pick whip the expression ending point to the Glow birth rate (in the video)...This is what i tried several times and this didnt work in CS5. So I sent a cooment. I solve it somehow in this way: Instead of pick whiping the expression ending point I pick whip the Expression Time to the Glow birth rate.
Pa
@Rob Mize
by Pa-Modu Jack
My Final problem to solve for this project is the Shatter map. My letters are ..The SmilingCoast..and is written in the same text u use and same settings in the shatter map.However am having difficulties trying to adjust the Gradient shatter with my letters The first e is fine but when i reach the g..its when i start to have problems.How do u put the settings accordingly to match the content?
Pa
@Pa-Modu Jack
by Chuck Hoffman
I am having the same problem. Were you able to fix it? If so, how?
Thanks
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Pa-Modu Jack
Wow..thanks for the tutorial.so far i have a problem with the Pick whip. By the way am using CS5. When I arrive up to the point where I alt-click the Lasers ending point and pick whip the expressions ending point of the laser to the glow Birth rate ...effect("Beam")(4) appears besides the Expression Time but I could not add the 12.5 ! How can it be done in CS5
Pa
@Pa-Modu Jack
by Pa-Modu Jack
I mean the TIME of the laser not the ending point
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Hi, Rutger...
You can send me an e-mail with your *.aep file attached.
I've got a big project running through this weekend, but I'll look at your project and get back to you ASAP.
I appreciate your interest in the tut... we'll get it figured out.

Rob Mize
@Rob Mize
by Rutger Buiskool
Her is my project. I also got files from prior saved stages, but This might me enough.
Good luck with your big project.

I hope this is the right way:
1597_laserwriterindonesieiv.aep.zip

Otherwise, could you email me yor email adress? Mine is rbuiskool@yahoo.com

Rutger
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Hi, Rutger...
I'm trying to envision your results with the shatter...
it can be tricky to balance the various adjustments.
I would check the Shatter Map - there are 2 in the project files. You want the one with white letters on the colored background.
Also check the shatter gradient layer... it should be white on the left, going to black just right of center and back to white on the right.
Hope this helps... please let me know how it turns out.

Rob Mize
@Rob Mize
by Rutger Buiskool
Hi Rob,

Unfortunately I can't find what I'm doing wrong. My settings look pretty simular to the ones in the project file, but as I said, as soon as I turn on the white tiles fixed checkbox the entire background lights up instead of just the letters. The result is that I can't get the effect to work, because nothing is truly cut out. I can't seperate the letters from the background.
I understand it's hard to envision, can I send my project to you or add more details in a mail or something?

Thanks for your help
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rutger Buiskool
Thanks for the tutorial. It looks great, but I've got a major problem. I followed all the steps, but with the shatter it all falls apart. I can't get the effect working. What I see happening is as soon as you Custom Shatter -> Shatter map and White Tiles Fixed the letters apear in grey, while with me the whole background apears again and the letters are still the cut-out letters. What went wrong and how can I fix this?

Rutger
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Shawn Smith
Thank you for teaching me an interesting technique and for pointing me to the custom shatter maps tutorial. I've filed away the laser writing for future use, but will probably use some of the concepts from this tutorial and the custom shatter maps tutorial today, so I thank you!
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Hi, Scott...
A couple of things to consider...
When you create your original text layer... Have it Center Justified and do not click in the composition frame to place it. Just type your text and it will default to the center of the frame.
Make sure your null position or anchor point has not been adjusted.
Hope this helps... thanks for your interest.

Rob Mize
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Dave Fleming
I had the same issue as the first poster, and in addition on a few of my letters, the motion path I created is accelerating ahead of the outline path. Did I do something wrong with the "rove across time" keyframes?
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Hi, Dave...
I found that the position of pasted motion paths depends on where the text is originally positioned... not to where it may be moved. For that reason, when I create a new text layer, I have it center justified and do not click in the composition, but just start typing so that the text defaults to the center of the composition. That said, motion paths can be repositioned. Go to the start of the timeline, click the null's position parameter so that all the keyframes are highlighted. Now you can either click and drag, or use the arrow keys to re-position the entire motion path.
The outline's trim path parameter will likely need a number of additional keyframes to adjust its timing to the motion path.

Rob Mize
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Dave Fleming
Thanks Rob,

Yes, I had better luck adjusting the motion paths one letter at a time than I got from trimming the entire batch of keyframes to the end point after I was done.

One other issue--When I have the "Reverse Path Direction On" enabled, the resulting pasted motion path won't obey it, but travels the original direction. I guess I could just reverse the keyframes?

df
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Rob Mize
Right you are, Dave. If you use Reverse Path Direction On, you will need to use:
Animation > Keyframe Assistant > Time-Reverse Keyframes.
Thanks for mentioning that... and I appreciate your interest in the Tut.

Rob
Re: Laser Writing in After Effects
by Scott Keck
I like the tutorial. BUT, at the point where I create the null object and start pasting the path information for the letter outlines to its position, for some reason the null is offset way to the right of my letters; it also is not tracing a path that matches the size of my text. I'm following along with the tutorial on 1 monitor and AE5 on the other, so pretty sure I'm not leaving anything out. I'm a bit of a novice on AE, but can usually follow these tutorials fairly well. Any suggestions?

Improviz in SF


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