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Vegas Baby! Vegas!

Using After Effects plug-in for more than just dancing lights By Stephen Schleicher
If you have played around with the Vegas plug-in in After Effects, you know that it is perfect for generating casino-style running lights around layers in a composition. Here is a alternate take on what might be done with this plug-in.

Vegas allows you to outline anything on the screen, based on the shape of the layer, a mask, or a path that you bring in from another source (like Adobe Illustrator). This outline can come in the form of a series of lights, or a single long pulse. The number of lights available is controlled by the Segments control of the plug-in.

In this exercise, lets create a flowing shape that follows a path on the screen.

Create a new project in After Effects by pressing Command+N on the Mac or Control+N on the PC. Set the duration for the composition to five seconds.

Create a New Solid by pressing Command+Y on the Mac or Control+Y on the PC. Make the solid the same size as the composition by clicking on the Make Comp Size button.

Using the Pen Tool, begin pointing and clicking in the Comp Window to create a complex mask that runs willy-nilly across the frame.

When you have closed off the mask, use the Convert Point Tool to change the mask shape from straight lines to curves.

From the Effect Menu, apply the Vegas effect to the solid layer (Effect>Render>Vegas).

In the Effect Controls panel, change the Stroke, from Image Contours, which follows the edges of a layer, to Mask/Path.

From the Mask control, select Mask 1 from the drop down menu.

If you deselect the layer, you should see the default Vegas effect following the contours of the mask.

Twirl down the Segments control and change the number of segments to 1. Change the Length to .05. This shortens the length of the segment, which will become more visible in the next step.

Twirl down the Rendering control and change the Width to 20. You should have something like looks like the following image.

The result appears to be a dot or point of light that has a streak behind it.

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