Before we begin let me show you what we are going to build.
[flv:/video/raylight.flv 500 400]
Now you may think what’s so special about it? A couple of filters and it works.. Well yeh, but why work with multiple filters and settings, when you only need to use one effect to create this useful animation?
The answer to the solution is good old CC Light Ray, You don’t believe me? Then scroll down and read through this short tutorial and you’ll see that it’s really easy.
Create a new composition with a size of 500 x 400, 25fps and with a length of 10 seconds, then just add a new text layer by doing a right click on the timeline panel and selecting New -> Text, choose a nice font and write 2 lines of text, ensure that the text is visible in the monitor window and the textcolor should be white, on this example I just wrote:
“this is the text i’m going to use
for our example.”
Next we need to tilt our text a little bit, it would also work without but I believe that with it you give a slightly better look.
Therefore check the 3D layer checkbox besides the text layer and press the R key on your keyboard to access the rotation parameters, assign a value of -57 to the Y Rotation Axis, as well please try to keep the text on the lower half of the screen and be sure that the text is readable otherwise I can’t guarantee that everything will work out smoothly, below a screenshot of my current view.
Let’s get freaky now
Select the text layer, do a right click or choose on the menu bar Effects -> Generate -> CC Light Rays as soon as the effect has been applied you shouldn’t see any big changes on the monitor besides that a small cross mark has appeared. Grab that cross mark and drag it on top of the text forth and back, I really love to play with those cross marks during my work, just to see what the effect really does and how it could behave for future animations (in case you don’t have a storyboard).
But that’s not it, if we would stop here the animation would be quite boring and it doesn’t look even closely to what you saw at the beginning of this tutorial. So let’s play around with parameters of CC Light Ray, open up the Effects Control Panel, (if it’s not open yet then just select the text layer and press F3 on your keyboard to bring it up) by default the effect panel should be grouped together with the project panel.
Here we’re creating our little magic and make the text look really nice and animated. Below you’ll find the values I used for each parameter:
Warp Softness: 40
Colour from the Source: unchecked
Transfer Mode: Add
If the center crosspoint is still outside of the text boundaries you will not notice any changes on the text but drag the crosspoint above the text and you will see that you really changed something to the effect
But.. That’s not it.. There are a few more things to come which really can make this effect look interesting.
What I love about working with After Effects is the possibility to apply multiple effects and link them together to achieve various looks, you can also apply the same filter over and over again and by mixing them together you can get a really nice “global” effect which you then can save as a preset for further use, check the help file out on how to save your presets.
Let’s add a new instance of the CC Light Rays effect, by now you should know where you can find it you can also select the effect on the effect control panel, do a right click on it and choose the 2nd Item on the context menu, that will repeat the last chosen effect. You can also press CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E to do the same, I prefer to use keyboard shortcuts then to use the mouse, maybe because I’m afraid of mice…
With the new Light Ray effect created change the parameters to these values:
Warp Softness: 180
Color from the source: checked
Transfer Mode: none
You will notice that the original text you wrote is actually gone, instead depending on the position of your crossmark there is a huge text with a blue shimmer on the screen. Below you can see how my project looks like:
Drag the the little crossmark of the newly created effect and see how the text behaves, pretty cool huh?
But where did the blue light go? Remember that you also have a center parameter on the first light ray effect? yeh.. that needs to be animated as well to be able to animate the blue shimmer. But how do you want to do that? moving both crosspoints at the same position might work but it’s such an hassle when you have a really big animation with multiple layers, there must be a better, more effective way for this. There is, it’s called Expressions now don’t jump out of the building, as I started to work with After Effects I wasn’t a big friend of Expressions, they looked very abnormal to me I’m used to ActionScript or Lingo but not this stuff.. After a while I really got to know Expressions and they can be fun, even the basic ones can help you during your day-to-day work. Let me show you how I’ve done it.
We need to bind our 2 center parameters to eachother, After Effects has a nice little tool called the pick whip tool which looks like a small hairline below the parameter, by default you are not able to see it, but you can bring it upfront just by holding the ALT key and clicking on the small stopwatch besides the center parameter.
Have a look at your timeline panel did something change? You just got a whole new row of tools to use, but we are only interested on the pickwhip, so press and hold your mouse left button and drag it all way to the top to other Light Ray effect Center Parameter. Let the mouse go and press ENTER on your numerical keypad or just click somewhere else to close the editing dialog.
You will notice that you can’t change the center values of the effect you pick whipped, you can’t change it because it’s being controlled by the original effect where the pick whip derived from. If you now move the crossmark of the original effect, by clicking once on the crossmark at the effect panel, you will see that both light rays are being moved together.
Now I leave it up to you to create a cool animation, try to extend it even further by using masks or even think about going real 3D.
Moving masks would work great of this example, I’ve seen an introduction for a movie this weekend which used a similar effect.
Even using only these 2 effects, animate the strength of the light play with the settings, master them
Play on, Have fun, Enjoy it