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Here Comes the Sun: Part 3

Trapcode adds Shine to our AE Sun By Stephen Schleicher
Last time we used Adobe After Effects Production Bundles Fractal Noise and Spherize effects to fake our own rotating Sun. We then used the Mask Tool to mask out the unwanted areas of the image. This of course left us with no corona or light rays streaming from our little star. One of the easiest ways to add these elements back into our composition is with Trapcodes Shine. I like these kinds of articles. Part review, part tutorial? its a reviewatorial!

If you havent heard about or seen Shine, then you must be in the dark. Every time I turn on the television, I see a commercial, news open, or special effect that seems to be using Shine to create beams of light that emanate from a source. This is a plug-in that has been around for a while (can be used in AE 4.1), and can generate some fantastic results with very little effort.

There are a lot of reasons why I would recommend Shine; easy to understand interface, it uses a Threshold setting instead of masks to determine where the light rays emanate, it has a shimmer control to make the light animate even if your original layer is static, and best of all the price point is perfect - $79 for this powerful plug-in.

The Trapcode Shine interface is simple to understand.

There is not a lot to the Shine interface. Under the Pre-process twirl down, youll find Threshold and Mask controls. These allow you adjust how much of a layer the effect is applied to. For example, if you wanted to create light rays streaming out of a bank of backlit clouds, you would adjust the Threshold amount to only include those bright areas of the image where light would naturally bend around.

Here is the before shot using a reference photo from www.morguefile.com.

Shine applied to the still images causes etheral light to shine from above.

The next control Source Point, allows you to position the light source in the layer. In the clouds example above, the Source Point was positioned approximately where the Sun would be in the scene. Ray Length and Boost Light are very self-explanatory as they control the length of the light rays and the intensity of the light.

If your layer moves (through your clever animating skills or otherwise), then the light rays Shine produces will move as well. If however you are using a static image, then you will want to use the Shimmer controls to animate the rays over time (you can even have the rays loop!).

One of the other things I like about Shine is the fact that you are not limited to the color palette of the layer to determine the color of the light rays. The Colorize property allows you to change the color of the light and allows you to make gradual changes using up to five different color gradients. While you can select your own colors, Shine does come with a variety of presets that will probably work in a large number of your situations.

Color can be added to your light rays for different effects.

What I really like about this plug-in isnt the easy to understand interface or the low price, but it is in how fast the effect is applied to a frame. While there are a number of calculations going on, this effect is applied with very little hit to screen updates or processor times.

If you havent thought about purchasing Shine, you may want to think again. The power behind the effect and the price make it one of those ?must have plug-ins for advanced work. If you want to try it out for yourself, there is a free demo you can download from the Trapcode site.

Okay, enough of the review, lets move on to the tutorial.

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