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Absolute Luv

Foam and Flow Maps By Stephen Schleicher
I might as well jump on the Valentines Day bandwagon and offer up my exercise for the holiday. In this exercise, well use the free Foam plug-in that you get when registering After Effects 6.0 and look at how we can use custom bubbles and flow maps to control the direction of our love.

For this exercise, Ill spoof the Absolut Vodka ads from years ago. In our version instead of a bottle in the shape of something, well create the shape of a bottle from hundreds of floating hearts.

If you havent done so already, register your version of After Effects with Adobe and download and install the five free plug-ins you receive. These are some really great plug-ins, and have been mentioned a time or two in these pages.

To keep the description of Foam as brief as possible, it allows you to generate hundreds of bubble shapes, control how the move, when they pop/die, and how sticky they are. Whats more, you dont always have to use a round bubble shape. Instead of using a pre-set or noodling around with the controls, you can also use custom shapes for neat results.

Step 1: Open After Effects and create a new composition and set the duration to ten seconds. Name the composition Positive Luv and press OK.

Step 2: Create a new solid (Command+Y on the Mac or Control+Y on the PC), name this solid ?Bubbles and make the layer the same size as the comp. It doesnt matter what color the solid is, as we will be applying an effect to it.

Step 3: From the Effects menu, select the Foam effect from the Simulation selection (Effect>Simulation>Foam).

The default Foam view is set to Draft and this allows you to work quickly and easily to position the Producer (the item that generates the bubbles) and to get a rough idea of the shape and flow of the foam. Keep in mind however, that when it comes time to render the Composition, you will need to change the View to Rendered. This gives you the nice and pretty render.

Step 4: In the Effects Control Panel, twirl down the Producer arrow to access the controls for this option. Click on the Producer Point crosshairs and in the Comp Window position the Producer Point near the bottom of the frame. To save you some time, the actual position for this exercise is 336, 448.

Step 5: Scrub through the Timeline and you will notice that the bubbles being created originate from a single point. For this exercise well actually need the bubbles to emanate from a line.

Change the Producer X Size to .150 and the Producer Y Size to 0.

Change the Production Rate to 10. This will greatly increase the number of bubbles present. Be aware that if you switch this over to Render Mode, your performance may slow dramatically.

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