ShapeShifter AE is a product from Mettle that allows you to design and animate 3D logos along with morphing 3D shapes. How do you work with these plugins in Adobe After Effects? How does the affected footage look? In this video, author Nick Harauz gives a brief overview of Shapeshifter AE from Mettle.
- 3D ShapeShifter is another product for Mettle that allows you to design and animate 3D logos along with morphing 3D shapes. Let's take a look at this plugin. So I'm here in my Chapter 4_5 composition and we're going to take a look at Mettle ShapeShifter. To keep this in perspective, let's compare this to FreeForm Pro and the built-in ray-traced renderer that we covered in the first movie. There's also going to be a Cinema 4D renderer in After Effects that's coming soon, too. So there are a few lights in my scene, that you can see down here, as well as, I have a camera, and I've got a couple 2D layers that aren't interacting with the lights of the camera just yet.
Now I also have an environment layer that you can see down here, the Basic_2K_07, it's from Element 3D. You won't have this in your projects, but you could download an environment layer, or a panoramic image from Google to use in this project. Now if you had Element installed in your system, you could go to one of the Element folders of Content and find this environment layer to follow along here inside this actual chapter. So, I want to take this Illustrator file and get it to interact with ShapeShifter, so with the Illustrator file selected, I'm going to go to the Layer menu, and I'm going to choose to Create Shapes from Vector Layer.
This is going to create a shape layer at the top of my project, I'm going to just rename it, and after I rename it, I'm going to take that shape and lower it so it's underneath the piece of text. Let's select the shape and just head to the top here, to the Fill section, I'm going to click on the black square, and let's change that color of the snowflake. Awesome. So now, let's add ShapeShifter, which I've already done a search for in Effects & Presets onto both the text layer and the shape layer.
So I'm going to cover over here to the Effects & Presets and just apply this, first of all, to my text layer, and then I'm going to just follow that and also apply it to the shape layer. And you should see some changes take place right away. Both the shape layer and the text layer are interacting with the lights, we can see that clearly, and they're actually also interacting with our camera. To get a better perspective on this, just keep in mind that these are also 2D layers, they're not 3D but they're still interacting, I'm going to hit the C key right now just to select my Orbit Tool and navigate around the scene so we can see both the text and the snowflake from a different angle, and we can see that that's clearly extruded.
Now, I have some options here at the top, I currently have the shape selected, and some of those basic selections for 3D Extrusion include increasing thickness, let me first change that from a value of 40 to a value of 60, so we can see that increases, and let's actually change that even more, to a value of 100. We can do basic changes in terms of 3D Transformations too, I'm just going to take the Position Z value and scrub this snowflake back, so this is always great when you have multiple 3D layers or objects in your scene, you can easily change where they're positioned, just navigating around there with my camera.
Let me close out this 3D Transformation section, and things really start to get interesting when we work our way down. You'll see that similar to FreeForm Pro, if you followed along in the last movie, we have the option for Displacement Mapping, there's a whole section of how we can add displacement maps, which is going to break distortion into our shape. We also have Reflection Mapping. So here's my Basic_2K_07 panoramic image from Element 3D, and if I head over to the Reflection Mapping section here, I'm going to hit the disclosure triangle, and under Reflection Layer, I'm going to change that from None to the basic 2K panoramic image.
And right now that shape gets filled with reflections, I don't want it to be so strong, so I'll head to Reflection Blending and change the amount to Vivid Light. You can see there now that it's a nice mix between the color of the snowflake and the reflections in my project. We're going to select my text layer now and under Reflection Mapping I'm also going to choose that same reflection layer. So we want to go to the Basic_2K_07.jpg. Great, it keeps that reflection. And let's just head to the Reflection Blending and also choose that Vivid Light.
So we've got a mixture of the color of each of the layers mixed with the reflections. I'm just going to hit the disclosure triangle to close this out. So things can start to get really interesting when we start to deform our shapes, or in this case, our After Effects text. So I'm going to open up this section here on my text, under World Space Deformations, this section, and I'm going to open up Deformation one, and the first thing that we're going to do is, we can bend and twist our objects in this section. You might have seen some similarities between this and Element 3D.
The way this works is we, first of all, need to activate a Display Region, so I'm going to click here so you can see the displaced region, it's a box around your text, so you can see this on the left and right, and to see this even clearly, let me actually go to V to get the default selection tool. I want to hold down Command as I scrub the Position X value of the Deform1 Position X, and you can see that box moving across my text. So, by default it's usually right in the center of the layer or objects that you've applied ShapeShifter to.
And I want to just minimize the size here, we don't need this box to be so big, so I'm just decreasing its size in X, and then I want to just play around with this position to try to center it a little bit better. Now, in order to get some deformation on our texts, we need to play around with the Deform Type first. Currently, it's set to Twist. I want to switch this from Twist to Bend. Now in order to have some Bend, we need to play with the Deform1 Amplitude, which is currently set to 0%. I'm going to just go take this value and scrub it out a little bit.
And we're going to set a lot of value for around 40. Now you can see that your text is clearly bent because it's in the Deform1 Display Region. Awesome. I'm just going to orbit around the scene so you can see that a little bit better. Maybe a good idea just to move our text a little bit closer to the snowflake, so I'm going to go back up to my 3D Transformation settings, and under Position Z, just start to scrub back so the text is closer to the snowflake shape layer. Excellent. I'll just close out my 3D Transformation section and continue here with the deformation properties.
So what we could do is actually set up a little animation here, where the text is bent first and then it's no longer bent as soon as the text is outside of the box. Let me move my current time indicated at the beginning here, and let's play with the Deform Position X by clicking the stopwatch to create a key frame. I'll move just past two seconds and then start to scrub the Position X. So I'm just going to scrub this value, and you can see, as soon as the text is outside of the box, no deformation is there. Excellent.
So I'm just going to move to the beginning of the project and play this back, text inside of the display region, we've got some bending taking place, text outside, no bending taking place. This is exactly what we're looking for. So I'm just going to close out this section here, and let's go into the Generator section, but we're going to do this on our snowflake shape layer. So I've got my snowflake shape layer selected, and first thing I'm going to do is go down here to the Generator section. I'm going to increase the Grid Size Z to five, from the one value, and hit C to orbit around my scene, and we'll see clearly that no change is taking place right now on our snowflake.
But the minute I start to play with the Grid Offset Value, I'm going to go down here to Grid Offset and scrub that to a value of around 400. You can see that five snowflakes are now spread out in Z space. So this is actually a replicator, or built-in replicator, in ShapeShifter that we can use. I'll head over to the 3D Transformation section and actually make all of these snowflakes a little bit smaller in their X, Y, and Z scale, make those 70% so we can see them clearly on the screen.
Excellent. I'm also going to go to my View Options in the Composition Window and just turn off my Layer Controls so we don't see those outlines around my snowflake, just a clearer view of our scene. Close out that 3D Transformation section and go back to my Generator tab, and besides these controls that we've used for Grid Size and Grid Offset, we've also got the ability to kind of create some cool pattern as well as some randomization here with the instances of our shape layer. So I'm going to go here to the Rotation Z and make that amount 59 degrees in Rotation Y, and you could see that each snowflake is rotated around itself.
Let me increase the Ambient Light here to 50 just to add a little bit more light to the scene. Excellent. I'll head back into the snowflake shape, and under the generator I'm also going to play with the Spiral Rotation Y parameter. You can see that there's just a little bit of randomization between my snowflakes. Great. So this might remind you of the built-in replicator for shapes in After Effects, we're just doing it here with our 3D shapes. So to find out more information about Mettle ShapeShifter, simply head to mettle.com.
There's a ton of information there, so take a look at mettle.com to find more information about ShapeShifter AE and how it can help you with your 3D workflow.
- Using plugin packages
- Working with particle simulations
- Simplifying complex keyframe animations
- Working with expressions
- Enhancing beauty
- Using lens flares