You probably won't be able to see the subtle effect very clearly in such a compressed video file - so take a look at the better resolution still screenshots. Click on the graphic above to download the larger graphic.
Please note: As usual, all images used here are, of course Copyright by my client. All rights reserved.
Hello again, as always, I hope ya learn something new in this one. My condolences for everyone that lost loved ones in the recent tragedies.
I always love seeing objects that are displaced come together into a final form. I also love 3D flat space - the idea of transparent screens floating in mid air. I wanted to get that effect in this simple section transition.
This project is for an instructional video tape. These segments introduce each self-defense technique as it is taught. The idea is that going through this tape is like a boot camp, and I call these screens the 'Scoreboard.' The piece also needed to accommodate about 10 different changes of text parts - one for each technique - so the main sequence was rendered only once - while the text overlays were rendered with alpha channels and composited realtime in the editing system. This allowed us to make changes to the text quickly without having to re-render the entire scene each time.
There's basically three steps to do in this piece.
- Part One: Create your screens in Illustrator or Freehand
- Part Two: Import into After Effects, offset parts, and use 3D to animate camera moves
- Part Three: Add Delirium's Schematic Grid and animate a mask over it.
The rest, as usual, is optional and playtime. So let's get started!
Part One: Create your Vector Artwork
A: Design Brainstorm
It's always a good idea to know where you're headed. I created the above storyboard pages for brainstorming AWAY from the computer. This allows you to think in a less 'computer constrained' way. Draw your ultimate without thinking about how to do it - then figure out how to create your vision. Hopefully, your vision will change as you develop it in the computer, making it better and better.
B: Draw in Illustrator or Freehand
This is a pretty simple Illustrator drawing that I made using mostly the pen tool while holding down the shift key to constraint my angles to 45 degrees. I used Illustrator 9 because of it's transparency abilities. You can, however, set the transparency within AE - so don't worry if you don't have the latest programs. Just get the job done however you can.
Set up your work area to be your comp size, unless you're outputting to a non-square pixel format (such as D1 at 720x486 for instance. Then you should see Rick Gerard's excellent explanation of Non-Square Pixels In AE and set your work area to 720x540)
For this piece - proper sizing isn't exactly needed because this modular box and be scaled later in AE. I do however like knowing my working space, so the above instructions apply.
If in Illustrator - also go to VIEW>HIDE PAGE TILING to get rid of the annoying print boundary guides which you are not worried about when creating for video.
One important thing to keep in mind with sizing. I've found that turning on 'Continuous Rasterize' in AE is a bit annoying at times. You'd usually turn that on in order to keep your vector art sharp as it scales up. The problem is that you often have to pre-compose, work around effects etc. that all conflict with 'Continuous Rasterize' - as well as seriously extend your render times. (Especially if you're using 3D lights and such)
So most people will tell you to create your artwork at the largest size you'll see it in the movie - and then import it at that size and scale it down. Try it both ways and find out what works best for your situation.
When you draw in Illustrator or Freehand, try to get in the good habit of grouping things in WELL NAMED layers. Here's mine. (As you can see, I didn't name my experimental layers.)
I have title-safe guides at the top - and a background representative layer to check the transparency against.
Keep in mind that I have more than one object on each layer. The purpose of separating these into layers is that they will come into AE as layers which you can modify individually. (Adjusting everything from z-depth to transparency and motion.)
Put everything that you want to adjust individually on its own separate layer.
Here, in Illustrator, I've imported a back ground picture that represents what I plan to have in the video (although I later changed it from blue to red in AE). This allows me to check the transparency. You'll notice the text is also just for reference. I will replace that in AE as well.
Save it out as an Illustrator 9 file.
Part Two: Import into AE
1. In AE - Double click on your project files window and import the Illustrator or Freehand file that you made. Mine was named BB segments03 outlines.ai. You can import as Composition, or just layer by layer. I imported as Composition - and then dragged each layer to my main timeline because I wanted easy control of them from my main time line.
2. Double click the new composition BB segments03 outlines.ai to see its layers. You should see the same layers you made in your vector program. Once inside AE you may be shocked that your beautiful drawing now looks like jagged crap! But don't worry. Simply:
3. Switch your 'Layer Quality' switches to high quality and it will look nice again.
Now you are free to animate or change any of the properties of these layers as you would any other AE layer. In fact, my original reason for separating these layers was to have the parts of the scoreboard 'assembling' as the camera moved around them. But, alas - deadlines got the better of that idea. But there are a lot of possibilities. Try 'em out.
Create a new composition - with roughly the settings below.
In the project window, open the folder: BB segments03 outlines.ai and you'll see the individual layers. Drag these to your timeline and arrange like so, turning on high quality and 3D switches as shown:
(Notice I've turned off the text guide layer.)
Add Z-Depth - Pull 'em apart.
Select all your layers (except the reference text layer) and hit 'P' - the short-cut for Position. You'll see 3 sets of numbers. The last set is the Z-depth. Set those as follows:
Notice, if you now change your camera to 'Left' - your layers are not right on top of each other. This will give the illusion of 'screens in space' when you move around them with your camera. Each layer is represented by a line below - as though you were looking at them from the side.