8 Replies Latest reply: Mar 8, 2012 8:17 AM by bogiesan RSS

    Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?

    Andrew Yoole CommunityMVP

      A few months ago a thread here discussed different way to stroke 3D objects in After Effects.  There were lots of clever suggestions.

       

      I made a TV spot last week that uses growing 3D ribbons to spell out the 2012 in the product title.  There are straight planes and curves within the ribbon paths, and lighting and shadows were required to match the original album art it replicates.  I needed to get the job done quickly and didn't have time to use a 3D application, so I used (what I think) was a rather innovative approach.

       

      So, for a bit of fun, can you pick how I did this?  The project is created entirely in AE, in one composition. 

       

      Apologies for the heavy compression in the video.

       

       

        • 1. Re: Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?
          Rick Gerard CommunityMVP

          I may have used FreeForm but you could also stack up a bunch of animated lines as 3D layers in Z space and then just animate the start and end point of the line or use a mask. I kind of think you may have used shape layers. I've used a simple expression to Extrude in AE.

           

          Here's my comp using stroke on a solid. Simple expression for z position separated into values. I also added an expression to colorize hue. Parenting helps move the stack of layers around and maintain a straight extrude. Take a look at the complex expression…

           

          Screen Shot 2012-03-06 at 9.35.56 PM.png

          • 2. Re: Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?
            Todd_Kopriva Adobe Employee

            Before reading Rick's response, my guess was going to be similar: a bunch of stacked shape layers with animated paths (perhaps using Trim Paths)...

             

            ... but I'm curious to read the real answer.

             

            I really like the result. It's simple but appealing, and it's not a look that I have seen done much elsewhere.

            • 3. Re: Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?
              Andrew Yoole CommunityMVP

              Thanks Todd!

               

              My first attempt was exactly Rick's, using stacked solids with Stroke applied.  I gave up on it because, once shadows were applied, the "ribbons" seemed to develop a mottled texture, presumeably because each layer in the stack casts a shadow on the layer behind it.  Using Rick's design above, here's an example:

               

              Screen shot 2012-03-07 at 9.30.20 PM.png

               

              So in the end, I used text layers!  Each ribbon is simply a long string of Helvetica "I" characters, with their kerning pulled back so all the characters touch.  Convert to per-character 3D, rotate X axis 90 degrees, and apply mask as text path.  Then I use a simple Text Animator on opacity to draw the lines on or off. 

               

              The great advantage of this is no cumbersome stack of layers.  Each colour is one layer, so there's just five layers in my comp for each object. The "20" is one object, then the "1", then the "2" - 15 layers in all for the whole thing.  Changing colours is as easy as changing a single text layer.

               

              A total render hog, all the same:  it took 11 hours to render the 15 second spot, on an 8 core Mac Pro with 16GB of RAM.  But in 3D Draft mode the comp was surprisingly easy to work with.  It's just the lighting and shadows that slow things down.

               

              Anyways, perhaps this may inspire someone else to do something interesting with text layers. 

              • 5. Re: Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?
                TimeRemapper Community Member

                Nice, Andrew!

                Just curious, in the original approach, the 3D layers had cast shadows set to "off", right?

                • 6. Re: Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?
                  Kevin-Monahan Adobe Employee

                  Love it! Nice work. Innovative approach.

                  • 7. Re: Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?
                    Andrew Yoole CommunityMVP

                    TimeRemapper wrote:

                     

                    Nice, Andrew!

                    Just curious, in the original approach, the 3D layers had cast shadows set to "off", right?

                     

                    No, all the layers are casting shadows - in both my animation, and in the "stroke" still I pasted further down. There's no "floor" in the TV animation, simply for consistency with the album cover artwork it replicates. The shadows are only visible on the ribbons themselves. 

                     

                    One advantage of per-character 3D is that each type-character's shadow is calculated individually, so each "ribbon" in the animation can actually cast a shadow on itself, despite existing within one layer.  I can't think of any other way a layer can cast a shadow on itself...?

                    • 8. Re: Just for fun:  Can you guess how I did this?
                      bogiesan Community Member

                      > So in the end, I used text layers!  Each ribbon is simply a long string of Helvetica "I" characters, with their kerning pulled back so all the characters touch.  Convert to per-character 3D, rotate X axis 90 degrees, and apply mask as text path.  Then I use a simple Text Animator on opacity to draw the lines on or off. The great advantage of this is no cumbersome stack of layers.  Each colour is one layer, so there's just five layers in my comp for each object. The "20" is one object, then the "1", then the "2" - 15 layers in all for the whole thing.  Changing colours is as easy as changing a single text layer. <

                       

                      Remarkable, Andrew. I don't think this has ever been done before. I never could have thought it up, my mind does not work like that.

                       

                      Will you create a tutorial for us boneheads or just upload one of the layer's project files?