Animating and Creating 3D Objects in After Effects

Creating and Animating an Interactive Light Layer

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This video segment demonstrates creating and animating an interactive 3D Light layer to light 3D text.


  • Animating
  • effects
  • light
  • spot light
  • layer
  • text
  • 3D
  • trimming
  • intensity
  • orientation

About this video

Jeff Shaffer
First online
14 March 2019
Online ISBN
Copyright information
© Jeff Shaffer 2019

Video Transcript

So we left off, we had created a 3D type layer, which we could see here in our project. And we need to add a light to it in order to give it some color and dimension. So let’s go and say New Light. And we’ll use the following settings to create this new spotlight.

Call this Spotlight1 is fine. Spot is the type. The color should be 151, 28, and 249. Density of 764. Cone angle is going to be 90. Cone feather, 29%. The fall off is going to follow the inverse square law, which is the way that light behaves in nature, being that the closer you are to the object with the light source, the more rapid the fall off from light to dark in this scene. And the further away you are from the object, the more gradual the light fall off is. In other words, it’s more even as the cone angle spreads out.

Going to have that set for inverse square clamp to follow that behavior. The radius is going to be 500. Shadow darkness of 39%, and shadow diffusion of 207 pixels. We’ll say OK. That creates a light layer here. And we can see you’ve got some light on the subject right here, and we’re going to start putting in some settings to adjust this. Now, here is a symbol that represents that light source, that spotlight. And we want to be able to see how the spotlight is in relation to the actual type here.

So we have the ability to view objects like that. We’ve got a 3D object that we need to see how it interacts with this light. So I’m going to go to two views horizontal. And with that, you can view from different angles. This is being viewed from the top currently, and this is a good angle to view this from in order to see the relationship between the light source, which is this, and the type, which is here. And now we could see how far away this light source is and what angle it is to the type, as we see there.

You can change the views here if you need to, but the top view here and the active camera view are really what we mainly need right now. This should serve our purpose here for doing this. Let’s get started trying to animate this light source on here, because I do want to have it light up as much as I would like at certain points in the timeline here. And also, I’m going to want it to maybe move across it a little bit to give it some life towards the end there.

So I’m going to click on that spotlight there, and I’m going to go to 20.02 in the timeline. And then I’m going to twirl down to see my options here. There is the transform options, and I want to establish my point of interest. This is the point of interest right here. So you can see, the point of interest is what the light source is actually pointing at. So I’m going to make some adjustments in that. Right at the moment, I can’t see my light, because it hasn’t come into the frame yet here, but I want to establish my initial key frames here before the type appears.

I just want to have some initial settings here. So at 20.02, I’m going to put in, for the point of interest, 135.2 minus 95.3 and 514.1, which is going to be at an angle to the light source here. If I move this play head out, you’ll see, again, you can see our type layer here. I’ve just got to get that– there it is. So it’s off at an angle right now to our type. And we’re going to make some adjustments so that it’s angled where we want. But our point of interest has been changed.

The position is going to change, too. At 799.6 minus 752.7 and 14.7 for a position. So you can see how that’s changing relative to the object there. You can see what the effect is over on this side, Death Star type. Then, we’re going to have a little rotation on this, too. You can move the light manually yourself here with the widget for the y-coordinates or move it in or out here. Just back that up to where we were to start there. That’s how I basically determined some of these coordinates, but I’m going to give you these numbers here just to make it a little easier to set it up the same way I have it here.

So the y rotation on this is going to be 27.5, and rotation’s a bit harder to see on this. That’s y rotation. So you can see I’ve rotated it around and the effect on the light on the type over there. And the z rotation is going to be 38 degrees. So you can see what I’ve established initially here. The next thing I’m going to set here is I want to see my light options. And I’m going to go down to the intensity now.

The initial starting point was 764 but here I am, I’m all way out at 28.06. So I’m going to establish a key frame along the way to bring the intensity up gradually. So 764 is going to be, really, the only intensity key frame, and that’s going to be at 20.02, again, where that starts. So that’s the initial key frame. The others are really going to stay pretty much the same. The position’s going to stay the same until we get a few seconds out there.

So I will also establish a position key frame initially there at 20.02. Everything else doesn’t need a key frame. So then, I’m going to go out to 21.09, and at 21.09, I’m going to have the intensity go up. So make sure it makes a key frame. And that’s going to be at 1,500% now. And you’ll see that starting to light up our type, which is nice there. Position stays the same for that second position there.

And then I’m going to go to 22:11 in the timeline, and this is when the position is going to change a bit on this. I’m going to make another key frame here, and the position changes to– the y-coordinate is the only thing that’s going to change here– minus 372.7. So now you can see that if we scrub back and forth between those two positions here, there’s my initial position of the light, and you can see it rotates along with the object there, right there. And then that effect on the type.

The last key frame we’re going to create is going to be at 29 seconds, just before the end there. And that is going to go to create another one at 1,500. And in the end, 30 seconds. It’s going to go down to zero. Intensity will drop to zero. So let’s play that through here. Let me change the size of this here so you could see the whole thing. I’ll give it a RAM preview here at a quarter resolution. So there, you can see that it comes into the light, and the light will change over time.

OK, let’s play that back. There, we can see what’s happening. And then it fades out there at the end. I’m going to select all the key frames for this whole thing, and I’m going to ease them with the F9 key. So that will give it a little bit more gradual transition there. Play that through. It comes into the light. The light will move a little bit across the type there, as you can see, and create the effect.

So the only other thing I would do is just to do a fade-out on the layers that are visible at the end there. I set a key frame for all of these at 100% right there. And then, at 29.23, they’re all set at zero. So there, you can see that there in those layers. So all those layers there from– well, it’s really only from sphere on down. These other glows are gone by then, also.

So these are the only ones that really need to be changed– sphere, blue circle glow, blue glow, star field. And by selecting them all at once like that, it was very easy to create key frames for that to have it fade out. So what I would do then, if I were you, is I would do a RAM preview of the entire video, just to double-check everything. Make sure you’re satisfied with the animation in the project. And then, if you are satisfied with your results, you can export that in any format that you like.