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Creating a glow using the Ambient Occlusion pass

From: CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

Video: Creating a glow using the Ambient Occlusion pass

So the level of energy in our stadium is really looking great, but there is a particular zone that's really left out of the process so far, and that's the base around the platform. You'll see there is sort of a dark region here underneath the base where our pistons are. And what we want is we want to have these pistons not feel like pistons but tubes of energy pumping life into this platform, and so we're going to do that with a very special pass called the Ambient Occlusion Pass. That's going to give us a lot of extra detail that we can use as the basis for our glow. I'm going to go and show you the Ambient Occlusion Pass. If I go into the Video folder and into the Stadium Pass/ Special Passes folde,r I'll just double-click on that and here in the Footage window I leave the caps lock and in the Footage window, I want to scrub forward in time and you can see the Ambient Occlusion Pass on its own.

Creating a glow using the Ambient Occlusion pass

So the level of energy in our stadium is really looking great, but there is a particular zone that's really left out of the process so far, and that's the base around the platform. You'll see there is sort of a dark region here underneath the base where our pistons are. And what we want is we want to have these pistons not feel like pistons but tubes of energy pumping life into this platform, and so we're going to do that with a very special pass called the Ambient Occlusion Pass. That's going to give us a lot of extra detail that we can use as the basis for our glow. I'm going to go and show you the Ambient Occlusion Pass. If I go into the Video folder and into the Stadium Pass/ Special Passes folde,r I'll just double-click on that and here in the Footage window I leave the caps lock and in the Footage window, I want to scrub forward in time and you can see the Ambient Occlusion Pass on its own.

It is really beautiful and it has been used for amazing effect on a lot of commercials over the time, and what it is, is the result of geometry intersections. Any place where two pieces of geometry come together in space a little gradient is applied and that makes an image look much more real. But we're going to use this as the source for a glow and it's going to create a ton of energy in just the pistons for our scene. What I want to do, is put this into a precomp though before I use it in my main composition. The reason for that is that's going to give me a lot more control, the ability to affect this later on, because I know I'm going to want to do that.

And so I'm going to take Stadium_ao and drag it onto the New Comp button and I'll take this resulting composition. And put it in my Pre-COMP's folder and I'll call this Stadium_ao. Hit Return on the keyboard and change the name to Pre. And in the Stadium_ao PRE I'll open that up and you can see I'll just scrub forward in time to a point where our pistons are visible. And this is the Ambient Occlusion Pass in that precomposition. Let's go back to our main comp and take a look at the layers that we have there.

Now what we want to have is we want to have this reveal in a very similar way to how the stadium glow is being revealed. But rather than redo all those keyframes we can just duplicate this layer setup and use these layers as the basis for Ambient Occlusion Glow. So I'm going to select both of these layers by hold down the Shift key and I'm going to hit Command+D or Ctrl+D on the keyboard and duplicate those layers. You can see our glow got a lot more intense. What I want to do now is I want to replace just the Stadium Pass PRE layer and I'm going to do that using something called an Option+drag or an Alt+drag.

And if I go down to my Pre-COMP's and find my Stadium_ao PRE, if I select this Stadium Pass PRE, hold down the Alt key on the keyboard or the Option key on the Mac, and I'm going to drag this pass in to here. And when I let go, it automatically replaces the layer that was there before. Now my image turned white and the reason that it turned white is because of the Starglow effect. The Starglow effect bases its glow on light and dark values in the image and if you remember from our Stadium_ao PRE comp, most of the image is white, therefore most of the image is getting a glow right now and that's way too much.

What we need to do is we need to reverse the effect of this. We want to have glow where there is black and no glow whether is white right now. So what we're going to do is we're going to invert this image using a filter here in After Effects. But we're going to do it in the precomp, so that we can go back to our main composition and not have to worry about that filter anymore. I'm going to select the Stadium_ao layer and go to the Effects menu and go to the Channel menu and do Invert and what that does is that reverses the image and gives me a negative value, and so now I can see I have black mostly and white only in certain regions.

And what this does for me is it gives me the energy right where I need it, so any poster that is white now is going to get a glow. So let's go back to our main composition see what effect that had. As you can see I now have much more intense glow and that glow is happening primarily in the base regions underneath the platform. I need to make some adjustments to the Starglow effect though before I go forward. One of the downsides of the Starglow effect is that it creates these star patterns and that's why they call it Starglow. But if you use of star patterns a little too intensely or too long, they really start to feel like 1972 sort of disco ball feel and I don't want that.

I wanted to dial down that Streak Length. And so I'm going to go to the Starglow effect and dial down the Streak Length. Let's cut it down to like maybe three or four. Start off with three. As you can see my glow got a lot less intense. The next thing I want to do is dial down the Boost Light. Let's bring the Boost Light back to zero for this layer. And now I have just the right amount of energy in the platform. We're looking at this at half res, so I'm going to bring this to full resolution so we can get a more accurate picture for what's happening here. Yeah, I think that's looking really good. You can see now we have a ton of energy in these tubes that is just pulsating.

It's going to pulse right into this platform and that's all thanks to the Starglow effect using it on that Ambient Occlusion layer. The next thing I want to do is I've got a little bit too much glow happening up in the upper regions now. And if I solo out my Stadium_ao glow, you can see I have got lot more glow going on up here and I don't really necessarily want that. And I can control this by adjusting the Starglow options. So I'm going to go into the Pre-Process settings for the Starglow layer and I'm going to go to the Threshold and dial it down. I'm going to actually push it up a bit and that's going to limit where that glow shows up.

You can see that farther up I push it, the less glow I get and I can push it too far and get very little glow, but I just want to bring it up into the 80 range or so. You can see I have a lot less glow up top here and now when I un-solo this, my glow up top is much, much less intense and I still got a nice hot energy going on down here below. So as you can see, the compositing process in After Effects is really about understanding what you're capable of. This Ambient Occlusion Pass on its own was a beautiful render, but by combining it with a glow effect I'm able to get a very interesting effect within my image.

And that's all thanks to those compositing passes that we rendered from C4D. So as you can see that multi-pass compositing process gives you a ton of control.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects
 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 48s
    1. Welcome
      57s
    2. Using the exercise files
      50s
    3. Essential plug-ins
      4m 1s
  2. 51m 44s
    1. Essential render settings
      6m 24s
    2. Setting up an object buffer list
      6m 17s
    3. Creating object buffer tags
      10m 48s
    4. Setting up multi-pass image layers
      5m 37s
    5. Creating an external compositing tag
      1m 47s
    6. Creating render passes using the Render Elements plug-in
      9m 39s
    7. Using Render Elements to optimize render passes
      5m 12s
    8. Batch rendering
      6m 0s
  3. 31m 33s
    1. Importing files and organizing an After Effects project
      6m 58s
    2. Creating a 3D object precomp
      3m 15s
    3. Attaching a video layer to a 3D object
      8m 17s
    4. Compositing 3D text
      2m 47s
    5. Compositing a dynamic 3D background
      4m 23s
    6. Setting markers for major events
      5m 53s
  4. 39m 46s
    1. Adding the Star Glow effect to a layer
      4m 32s
    2. Creating a glow on the stadium background
      5m 56s
    3. Revealing the background glow using a 3D layer mask
      7m 19s
    4. Creating a glow using the Ambient Occlusion pass
      6m 9s
    5. Using the Ambient Occlusion glow to create an energy animation
      4m 25s
    6. Creating a stadium light effect using object buffers
      4m 38s
    7. Adding flash bulbs with the CC Light Rays effect
      6m 47s
  5. 53m 16s
    1. Creating the phone reveal
      5m 10s
    2. Creating the phone reveal glow
      7m 49s
    3. Creating the phone reveal beams
      7m 17s
    4. Colorizing the energy beams
      6m 21s
    5. Creating the energy burst
      10m 19s
    6. Using Trapcode Particular to add sparks to the phone reveal
      10m 53s
    7. Creating the phone screen video
      5m 27s
  6. 15m 37s
    1. Creating the type glows
      9m 36s
    2. Adding the type glint
      6m 1s
  7. 34m 33s
    1. Creating a camera shake effect using precomps
      8m 12s
    2. Adding depth of field with the Lens Blur effect
      8m 14s
    3. Transitioning to full-screen video
      8m 17s
    4. Using the ReelSmart Motion Blur effect
      4m 17s
    5. Putting together the final comp
      5m 33s
  8. 1m 25s
    1. Next Steps
      1m 25s

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