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Chris and Trish Meyer have been using After Effects since version 1.0 and have written ten books about the program, and they are always among the first to dive into each new version and discover what it offers to their fellow motion graphics artists. Chris takes you under the hood and explains how each new feature works in After Effects CS5. This course covers both the technical and creative implications of this latest release, including tutorials on the new Roto Brush tool and mocha version 2, blending modes, text options, and new and improved user interface elements in Adobe After Effects CS5. Numerous examples show the most efficient ways to use the new features and avoid potential pitfalls when applying techniques. Chris ends with a discussion of which users will get them most out of upgrading to After Effects CS5.
- Reviewing After Effects' 64-bit system requirements
- Mastering the new Roto Brush tool plus Refine Matte
- Warping with FreeForm
- Motion tracking with mocha version 2
- Matting with mocha shape, including adding motion blur
- Extruding in 3D with Repoussé
- Importing RED footage
- Using Color Finesse and updated blending modes
Skill Level Intermediate
A lot of After Effects artists like us also use Adobe Photoshop. It's a great companion. Therefore, I am going to take a little detour to show you a new feature in Photoshop CS5, the extended version. It's called Repousse. Repousse is a way of taking text, shapes, masks, other selections, extruding them with interesting bevels, texture the sides, save it as a 3D layered Photoshop file, and then you can import it into After Effects and move your camera around it. Let me show you how that works. I want to create a new file.
I am going to use one of their Film & Video templates. PAL Widescreen Square Pixel is a good start, click OK, and let's do the typical type extrusion. I am going to pick a big chunky fonts like Arial Black, big point size to start off, like maybe 120 points, center my paragraph, pick an interesting color to start with. I am kind of partial towards things in the red gold phase. So let's go around there to start and type out a word like Extruded. There is my layer.
Once I have my text, I go under the 3D menu, choose Repousse, and say apply that to my text layer. Now it doesn't work on vectors. It actually works on selections. So I need to rasterize my vector- based text into a pixel-based layer. Go ahead and do that, wait for a moment and then the Repousse window will open. We'll drag to the side to see what I am doing. I have my 3D gimbal and you can see I can go ahead and rotate and I've got extruded text. Now initially though this is frankly kind of boring.
It's just square-edged extruded text and you can go ahead and make it extruded even deeper if you want really hokey-looking type. I tend to like a little bit thinner, classier stuff myself. I'll go to something little bit more extreme here like out around here. You can scale it so it's gets larger or smaller as it scales back into the distance. It has become bigger blown-out type or it goes down to a small point in infinity. These are some just typical 3D type tricks you can do.
Go back to one for now. You can twist this along the course of its extrusion. So I am going to go ahead and scrub a little bit there and you can start to create some pretty interesting shapes particularly when you take logos and other interesting things and start to extrude them, twist them, shear them, bend them, and do some other interesting stuff. However, that's a really funhouse mirrors type of look. Let's go to something a little bit classier and play around with bevels and faces.
This is what I like to use to make text look classier. Now the typical Repousse look is a puffed out inflated face. So I am going to pick the inflation preset, and you'll see I now have these rounded faces on my text, like that. That's Repousse's main strength is inflating those faces. You can increase the amount of inflation, get a really drawn out and kind of strange look, or just to something very subtle like maybe on the order of just a little bit inflation.
And the angle affects the curvature of those faces. If I go for something a little more subtle, it'll be a little bit flatter of a face. I can go negative and actually have Repousse pull in the faces of the layers or if I go to another extreme, I get basically kind of almost a squared off sort of bevel at some extreme here. I like something in between and frankly the 90 is a good starting point. Now this inflation is one look but you can create some standard bevel looks as well.
For example, I'll just pick this chunky bevel as another preset. Here's something you have watch out for with these presets. They haven't designed to look good with print and print typically has a lot more pixels in it than a video, exception being perhaps film frames. But if you are working on something like a standard def file size like I am here, you can see where these presets create some pretty bad looking faces. Well all you need to do is knock down the height and width of these bevels. I am going to pull the width down a little bit.
As I do so, you can see I get to a much more reasonable looking extrusion here. I'll go down further here. That's more like what you sort of expect. And the Height is what is the height of that bevel. You get your pretty typical commands. Front, Back, or Front and Back for the bevel. But what's really nice is this Contour pop-up. You have many, many different shapes that extrusion, that beveled edge, can take. For example, let's create little bit of a scalloped sort of look to the edge, so I have multiple levels to it.
A little bit of a nice inward cut bevel, different sort of edges. So these extrusions are really worth experimenting with to get different looks. And then go ahead and play around with their different heights. I'll try another preset like this one that has an little bit of a inset and then a rounded, puffed-out face. You can see that's what the contour looks like. Again the defaults are just way too huge. I will knock the width down to something much more reasonable like about 10, and then set my Height to taste.
Maybe increase the width just a little bit here, get a little bit more interesting of an edge, make sure artifacts don't start to creep in. That's nice. And I can still add the Repousse sort of face to this. Again that depth is way too much. I am going to go down to one or maybe even say 0.6 to get something a lot more subtle, increase my angle back to 90, which was a good default, and then pull up the Strength to go ahead and get that rounded Repousse face.
Or pull it down a little bit, which creates something a bit more interesting in the texture. Speaking of texture, you do have materials. You can apply material presets to all surfaces, or the faces, sides, and bevels individually. You can go ahead and make your own materials, as this is Photoshop after all. You can Load Materials, Save Materials, etcetera. I expect this to become really popular on Adobe Exchange. And just so we can see what this is going to look like later on in After Effects, let's go ahead and pick the sides and just make it one of these textures.
Now these defaults are a little bit on the hideous side but this is just to give you an idea what things are going to look, a bit of a wood grain. Hideous design but what's a product demo with at least one piece of hideous typing design? And again I can go ahead and pan around this text and there is my 3D text. Click OK. Once I have this, I basically have the Photoshop 3D layer and if you remember in Photoshop CS4 Extended, we got the ability to import 3D models. You can play around with the texturing and the render quality by going into a separate window.
So I'll go Window > 3D. Here is my scene with all my various elements to it. Drag this window a bit taller. You have to set up your lighting in Photoshop. You can not re-light these layers in After Effects. So do your lighting in here and render q uality. Right now it's looking a bit aliased. That's just because I'm in Interactive quality. If I wanted it to make it look better, I'll go to Ray Traced Draft, wait a second while it renders this out, and now you see I have a much higher quality.
If you're going to print, you might want to go to Ray Traced Final. It takes a very long time... So we are going to head stick with Ray Traced Draft or Interactive for now. I did mention lights and you can set up lights in the scene. There are even light presets back in Repousse. If I went to 3D > Repousse > Edit In Repousse. That's how I get back to that special window I was in so I can go ahead a treat this bevels, etcetera. I have myself here a fairly warm scene with this golden red. Let's go ahead and dawn lighting to my scene, just to add little bit more color.
Now that I have my text, I just export it as a layered Photoshop file. Since this is a brand new file, I'll do Command+S to Save, save it indeed as Photoshop, go to where my other projects have been, and save my file, extruded. Maximize Compatibility, life is good. That's the Photoshop end of the equation. In the next movie, I'll show you how to handle in After Effects, including a gotcha about this render quality issue.