Making 3D Text
Making 3D Text Motion Tutorial

Peter Wiggins: Making 3D Text in Motion
Peter Wiggins
Peter Wiggins, United Kingdom

©2007 idustrial revolution Reprinted by permission.

Article Focus:
When Motion3 was released and after the initial excitement had died down, it became obvious that there were a few features that hadn't made the release. One of the first to be highlighted by the many forum posts was the lack of 3D text. In this short tutorial, CreativeCOW leader, Peter Wiggins gives you some help in building 3D text in Motion.

When Motion3 was released and after the initial excitement had died down, it became obvious that there were a few features that hadn’t made the release. One of the first to be highlighted by the many forum posts was the lack of 3D text.

In this short tutorial, I’m going to give you some help in building 3D text in Motion. Yes it can be done, there are some limitations but hopefully this will get your text looking less flat and more 3D.

Method Number 1: Extrude

The extrude filter worked really well in Motion2 adding depth. To apply the filter to the text, go Add filter/stylize/extrude.

Apple Motion Text Extrude

In Motion 3 the extrude filter works slightly differently. You can cheat a 3D look, but don’t use any perspective changing camera moves or element spins as the extrude is still only a 2D plane and you end up with this type of problem. Not good.

Hang on though, what happens if I apply the filter to a group instead of the text? Bingo! 3D text in 3D! Well, yes and no. I really thought I'd cracked it then.

Apple Motion Layers

If you move the camera you do get a perspective change and the filter does actually extrude in 3D space and the filter will update depending where you are.

Apple Motion Sample Text

Here we are having tracked in and rotated the camera to show the filter holding up. You can probably spot that the thickness of the ‘extrude’ has thinned somewhat. Dam! we were so close. If you do want to use this method, then just animate the distance control of the filter in the HUD to compensate.

Apple Motion Text

What is slightly surprising though is the extrude filter holds up to adding a light source and the result all starts to look quite sexy even though we are using plain white text.

Appl Motion Light Text

We still hit the problem of large camera moves even though you now have more latitude. Spinning the camera round 180 degrees puts the perspective right out.

Behaviors can be applied though. In this grab we see the “Behind Camera 3D” applied to the text to give us the text flying in.

Apple Motion Flying Text

So that’s a 3D filter working on a 3D behavior, phew! Still not good enough though, so lets get onto the next method.

Method number 2: Replication

I think the replicator in Motion is vastly underused and I thought that it might be the key to getting great looking 3D text – I think I was right., take a look at this movie again.

So how do we achieve his look?

First of all, start a new project and make the default group 3D and add a camera too.

Apple Motion Layers Window

Then select the text tool and tap in some sample text. Here you can see I’ve written the very original ‘Sample Text” in Myriad bold and set the alignment to centre. It is important here that the size of your text should be about the size you want it in your final composition. More about that later.

Apple Motion Sample Text

Now, here is the sneaky bit, duplicate the layer. Use Apple D or you can right click and select copy.

Highlight the copy and in the style menu assign the look of the graphic. Here I’ve chosen chrome text so you will be able to see the effect easily.

Apple Motion Text Inspector

Click on the group and rotate the Y axis to about 60 degrees so we can see the 3D effect building.

Apple Motion 3D Text

Now click on the original text layer in the layer tab and hit the replicate button in the top bar or simply hit the L key. You should end up with something like this.

Apple Motion 3D Text

A bit muddled, but the Replicator defaults to this 2D rectangle tile fill, not what we want.

In the Replicator panel of the inspector, we need to adjust a few controls to get our text depth.

  • First of all, check the 3D box
  • Then toggle the shape (which should be on rectangle) to box
  • Set the columns slider to 1
  • Set the rows slider to 1
  • Set the ranks slider to about 50

Apple Motion Replicator Window

By doing this 2 things have happened. First of all the layer order has changed, so flip the chrome style layer to the top of the group.

Apple Motion Chrome 3D Text

Secondly we have obscured the original text as the Replicator has expanded out in all directions.

No amount of tweaking with Mark Spencer on iChat for an hour managed to fix this, so please let me know if you can set the replication direction. One tip here, the Origin control doesn’t apply to the replication direction.

3D Chrome Text in Apple Motion

This looks good, but the depth is far too much, so adjust the depth slider in the Size dropdown of the Replicator to about 80 or so. You might get a slight dealy in this working as you have 50 layers in there remember!

In the Properties tab of the Replicator, click on the Transform triangle which should give you access to the Z position. Adjust this slider into the negative values to push the extrusion behind the chrome text. Here I’ve used -40. You can fine control this by clicking on the little triangles either side of the number.

Fantastic, you should now have some 3D text! Lets do some movement to try it out. Either rotate the group or move the camera.

Replicator 3D Chrome Extrude

Cool, it all looks good but maybe a bit slow – remember the ranks control in the Replicator? Adjust this to give you the best performance between speed and a smooth looking edge as you are looking at a ‘deck of cards’ all stacked up behind each other.

A note here is that if you rotate the whole thing side on, you will see right down though the layers. This is because each ‘card’ hasn’t any Z thickness, we are cheating a bit here remember!

The final movie shows that you can apply lighting effects and these will affect the Replicator to add to the 3d look.

The examples I’ve done here are not necessarily something I’d create, but I hope its given you some insight into creating 3D text within Motion. There are many controls in the Replicator for adjusting the colour, gradient and lighting of the text depth, so have a good go experimenting.

Have fun, I've uploaded the project here so you can pick it apart and use it as a basis for your projects. One word of warning - Remember I said earlier to get your text the right size? Well, I've noticed that if you start altering the text after the replication, funny things happen.

You never know, there might be a software update tomorrow that adds 3D text into Motion!

For more Motion tutorials and other cool free stuff, please visit:

©idustrial revolution 2007 Reprinted by permission. All screengrabs done with Snap Pro X

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