|Transparency Maps & Custom Edges in Zaxwerks Invigorator Pro AE|
|A CreativeCOW Zaxwerks Invigorator Tutorial|
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA
©2003 Jon Okerstrom and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.
Invigorator is known around the world as the king of ''flying logo'' animations. No one does it better or faster. But Invigorator is capable of a lot more than that. A question posed by a user in the COWs Invigorator forum proves the point. The challenge: how to create a 3D crown. The solution: Use a custom edge and a transparency map. Jon Okerstrom shows you how in this project. Download the files and follow along. You'll need Zaxwerk's Invigorator.
|Project file: .sit||Project file: zip||Download Invigorator Pro Demo|
Custom edges allow Invigorator Pro AE to create all kinds of shapes, from bottles to martini glasses and beyond. Take a look at the set that comes with Invigorator Pro AE to see how they work and notice the guidelines. In this project, we'll create the general profile of the crown as a custom edge. Think of the general shape of a short, wide vase, from which well use transparency to cut away material and reveal the crown.
In my Illustrator document, Ive created two layers: one for the crown shape, the second for the rim that runs around the bottom. Ive labeled them crown vase shape and crown bottom. The distance from the point where the guidelines meet determines the ratio of the radius of the crown to the height. The art looks like this in Adobe Illustrator:
Place this Illustrator document in the Custom Edges folder. Youll find that folder nested inside the Invigorator folder, which is in AEs plug-ins folder.
We need to create two more Illustrator documents, before the fun starts in After Effects.
The first document represents the general shape of the crown, as if it were unwrapped. This document will be used as a transparency map -- the black parts will be seen, the rest will not. In this example, I've added some cut-out details. The shape is a compound path. I've called this "crownmask.ai." We'll rely on the alpha channel created by this artwork in After Effects to accomplish our transparency. The color you assign to the crown shape in Illustrator doesn't matter.
You could create a transparency map with Photoshop, but using Illustrator
gives more resolution flexibility in AE. If you choose to use a conventional
pict or tga image as your transparency map, you would create a white crown
shape on a black background. That's because in the absence of an alpha
channel, Invigorator treats white as opaque, black as transparent and gray
Our last Illustrator document amounts to two very small filled circles. One will become the crown -- the other will become the rim once Invigorator does its magic. Ive labeled the layers crown and bottom rim. Call this document circle.ai. (One reminder -- all Illustrator art must be saved as Version 8 or earlier, because Adobe changed the file format in versions 9 and 10.)
Now, were ready to begin our work in Adobe After Effects. Youll need Invigorator Pro AE or the demo version. Add a layer to your comp and apply the Invigorator Effect to that layer. When prompted to open an Illustrator document, open circle.ai and check the open by layers box. Then, in the Invigorator effect window, choose the crown object and apply the custom Edge crown vase shape. Choose the rim object and apply the custom bevel crown bottom. Uncheck all but the outside edges faces and youll see the beginnings of our crown in the Invigorator Set-up window. In this screen shot, Ive changed the rotation of the Invigorator camera so you can see it in the correct orientation.
Now, well work on the transparency map and adding the Creative Cow logo. Import both Illustrator documents and put them in their own precomps. You can turn off their visibility in the main comp while youre at it.
The resolution of your transparency and texture maps plays a role in how smooth they appear in the final product. In this case, Ive made both precomps very high resolution -- you will probably be able to get away with lower resolution and gain rendering speed in the process. The screen shot here shows the transparency map precomp. It contains two copies of crownmask.ai. Wanting to avoid being longwinded, lets just say that theyre placed in this position because of how Invigorator wraps textures around the edges of objects.
In the COW logo precomp, Ive placed the COW logo artwork so it lines up between the two squiggles in the Transparency precomp.
The next step is to assign the Transparency Precomp to Layermap 1 in the Invigorator Effect control window. Assign the COW logo precomp to Layermap 2 in the Invigorator Effect control window.
At this point, well build the texture for the crown. I started with a metalic golden texture. Then I assigned Layermap 2 to the texture pop-up, and Layermap 1 to the Transparency popup. Apply the texture to the crown. Apply a different texture to the crown base.
When you switch to best quality rendering in the timeline, you should see a crown like the one at the start of this tutorial. If not, stop by the Zaxwerks forum and ask a question. Were glad to give you the royal treatment.
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