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Get up to speed quickly with the new features in After Effects CS6. Join veteran After Effects user Chris Meyer as he explores the key enhancements to this industry standard visual effects and motion graphics software. Chris shares creative ideas and important production advice while covering the strengths of features such as memory optimization with the new global performance cache, 3D motion tracking with the 3D Camera Tracker, and the new 3D rendering engine for ray-traced 3D rendering.
Now let's turn our attention to reflections. Just to keep straight what it is we are seeing, I want to turn the Transparency back down to 0 so that don't confuse transparency looking through an object with reflections off of the face of an object. There are a couple of different ways objects can pick up reflections inside the ray-traced renderer. One, layers can reflect off of each other and two, you can set up something called an environment map that's sort of a world that wraps round your entire composition, and everything can reflect that. First, I am going to go ahead and rearrange my layers little bit here. I will go 2 Views, get my right one Custom, Top view here.
C to go to the Unified Camera tool and zoom back a little bit. I am going to do a little rearranging. I am going to pull my Corvette up here, off to the side. Press W for the Rotate tool. So it's at an angle has a chance reflecting back on to our text, press V to return to the selection. And I am going to change our light to a point light, so I no longer have to worry about its cone angle cutting off what layers it's hitting. There.
And let's go back down to one view again, Custom view. As I take my ray-trace text and start increasing the reflection, a few things happen. One, we do start to pick up some reflections from that Corvette layer in the bevels. You can see these bits of orange and the bits of chrome from the bumper showing up in these bevels here. But second, you'll notice that this text became darker; it's not illuminated quite as brightly. And this is one of the things that might throw you in After Effects: it uses what is called an energy-conserving ray-traced renderer.
That means as you increase reflections, it automatically decreases the normal lighting for a layer. The idea is that it tries to keep overall the same average brightness between reflections and direct light. The result is, quite often though, things seem to get darker. So again, you might find yourself going up to your lights and increasing the Intensity just go get some illumination back into the scene. Let's see if we can move that Corvette layer into a more advantageous position where we get a bit more reflection off of our text layer. There we go.
I will press V and start sliding it across here. So we can see it actually reflected off front of our type and lower it a little bit. Now you have to be careful that you don't get your reflected layers in between the camera and your object. I happen to have a custom view off here to the side. If I go over to active camera view, I can see where I might need to play around with replacing my layers some more to get that reflection that I desire. But I'll switch back to Custom view for now. Now you have some additional parameters to control these reflections.
I will back down to 1 View for now, so you can see this large. For one, you can choose whether or not a layer appears in reflections. I will type AA to reveal its material options, and you will see that option defaults to On. If I click twice, it's off, so it does not appear in reflections, or I can make it only appear in reflections. That means I don't need to worry about those layers getting in between the camera in the layer I am trying to see. They exist solely to be reflected. Now for the layer that's receiving the reflections, not only do you have the Reflection Strength, from no reflections at all, to a little bit, to fully reflective--I will go somewhere between here-- you have Reflection Sharpness. You can turn it down to create blurry reflections. You can see it blurs out very quickly; just a little bit goes a long way. I will go to 90, and that's just a subtle softening of the layer.
I will turn this back up to 100 for now and see what's going on. You also have Reflection Rolloff. The more severe, I make it less perfect that layer is being reflected. And again, you can see the overall brightness of this layer changing as part of the so called energy-conserving model that Adobe has chosen to use for this. Now I will knock this back down so that you can see the full reflection.
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