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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.
I am going to twirl down the parameters for this layer and you will see a brand-new category called Geometry Options. Underneath here is where you can do Extrude and Bevel. If you have no extrusion, you won't see beveling. So the first thing you are going to need to do is scrub out the extrusion depth to pull out your characters. Now, if you don't have a light in the scene, every surface of your character is going to be 100% of the text color you chose. So there are two things I will recommend: one, choose a color that has some variation in the RGB channels--I tend to like things in the yellow or gold regions so I will go over here-- and the second thing is you really want to have a 3D light in this scene so that the different services are shaded differently, depending how the light is striking them.
Otherwise, you just get this very graphical retro look, which is cool but not what I am after here. So I am going to go up to Layer > New > Light. Spotlight is fine; point lights are great as well. Don't need falloff. Don't need shadows for this example. Click OK. I will pick up the background light, I will press V get the normal Selection tool, and now you will start to see that true extrusion depth and the difference in shading as it hits the different surfaces here. Now, if you have ever heard me talk about 3D before in After Effects, one of the things I say is, 100% lighting usually under-illuminates a scene.
In the case of extruded text, it's even more so. So I will type AA, scrub Light Intensity to get a little more brightness in the scene, and I am going to spread out my Cone Feather so that I pick up my entire text. Twirl that up for now. Now you can see the extrusion depth. Just a little design tip: very thick text tends to not look very elegant; thinner text, like around there, has a classier feel to it. Okay, next is Bevel Depth. Trust me, initially you are going to start scrubbing this and nothing is going to happen.
The little pixelation you see is After Effects temporally going into Adaptive Resolution mode. I will discuss these different preview modes later on inside this chapter, but I am going to leave this on for now so that it will more interactive while I am scrubbing a parameter but give me full final ray-trace quality when I let go of the mouse. Anyway, to see our bevel, you need to choose a bevel style which defaults to None. There is a typical angle off bevel, and now you are seeing the edges. By the way, the bevel does a couple of things. One, it expands the size of the characters. That's why I warned you early about carefully selecting a font style. For example if you pick something like Bold, you see things get pretty close to touching in like these counters and these A's, and then you start getting close to closing up.
Something like a Light font or regular weight hold up much better for beveling. And two, both the front and back surfaces are going to get beveled. You don't have a lot of bevel choices in After Effects. You have Angular; Concave which is my favorite--it scoops in the bevels, which gives some more options for the way the lights interact around a scene-- and then Convex, where instead it's rounded out. It increases smoother rounding. I am going to go back to Concave, because it's more interesting. I will just do a quick tweak to this.
Even with the Classic 3D Renderer, one thing I always like to do with my 3D objects is crank up the Specular Shininess parameter. This focuses my hotspot down to a tighter area and then I increase the Specular Intensity to make that hotspot that much stronger. I will press C, right-click, drag back a little bit in my scene. Go V, start moving my light around a little bit here. You can see now the light really plays with those edges.
I am going to put it up at an angle where it really gets a nice specular kick off of these edges. So that's a first thing that the ray-traced renderer gives you, extrusion depth and beveling; however, the real fun is down here in Material Options. We have a lot more parameters than we used to before. Let's play with those in the next couple of movies.
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