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Your Name In Lights

Creating False Volumetric Lights By Ko Maruyama
There are a lot of ways that you can create volumetric lights in an animation.   My personal favorite would be to open a 3D application that supports true volume, in order to have your lights obey properly.  Sometimes, you don't need that much.

Recently, a friend asked how a project could be created using a couple of layers, with only the plugins that come standard with After Effects CS3.  Of course there are plugins like Trapcode's LUX and SHINE that could create a different effect, but what about going native?  The project would also have to allow for quick change out of the text, and be available for any After Effects CS3 owner to use.

I didn't get it down to exactly 10 steps, but it's pretty close.... If you're in Cleveland, you may have already seen the results of this animation!

1. Get a  nice bold font.  We'll break it up into dots, so you'll lose fine serifs. If you want to make it even bolder, add an outline in After Effects... stroke.


2. In your Effects list, find SIMULATION, within that, CC BALL ACTION.  If you've never used this plugin, now is your chance to say "OOOooo".  Go ahead and play with those rotation and twist controllers..... now set them back to "0".

3. Start a selection by creating a MASK SHAPE around the whole text phrase.  Animate it so that it reveals the phrase, top to bottom.

4. Duplicate that layer (let's name it "RAYS") Create a selection that will intersect the first MASK SHAPE. (change the method of applying the mask in the area under Switches/Modes).  This will define where the rays shoot out of the "ball lights"

5. Apply CC LIGHT BURST (if you don't know where it is, you can search After Effects' effects by using cmd-5 (or ctrl-5 on a PC) and type out the name of the effect).  You might want to change the values to get a brighter flare.

6. If your LIGHT BURST isn't strong enough, a little Levels correction on the Alpha channel (change the histogram to allow for more input to the white values).

7.  At this time, it'd be a good time to put a background into the comp.  With a solid background, you can change transfer modes of the layers above it.

8. A mask shape on the background solid can create a rounded black vignette to the comp.

9. GOTCHA! WATCHOUT!     This last step will actually break the project, but After Effects will let you break it if you want to.    CC Ball Action is a faux 3D effect, which doesn't obey the properties of true 3D layers and cameras.  BUT... if you want you could set up a camera and set these text layers to 3D.

You can get the file here if you have After Effects CS3:

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:tutorials, adobe after effects, sports graphics, ball action, volumetric lights,


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