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How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX

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Joseph M. Morgan
How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 16, 2006 at 3:10:38 pm

I'm making a RCA 77-DX microphone, and have run into a problem of creating a proper transparency map to created the holes in the mic. I brought in a simple targa file containing the pattern, but, as you may instantly deduce, the holes don't wrap properly across the top of the mic, which I can explain, but don't know how to solve. Interestingly enough, the holes are also elongated, which I cannot explain, and "squashing" them didn't work.

I'd be very interested in getting the map, but even more interested in how to create 3D transparency maps. I did a soccer ball not too long ago, and someone had a map that was the soccer ball pattern, but "flattened" so that it wrapped properly. It is more valuable to me to learn how to create "flattened" maps.

I found a COW post in how to do one in Cinema 4D, but I'm using After Effects 6.5, with Zax 4 Pro.

Joe




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Jon Okerstrom
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 16, 2006 at 4:20:18 pm

Hi Joe,

I actually used one of those in my college radio days. Great microphone!

Figuring out how to create the map depends on how you built the mic.... whether the shape is considered an edge (my assumption here) or a front or rear face.

In the case of edges, you need to remember that Invig wraps the map from the lowest, leftest portion of the object all the way around, sort of like a ribbon around the sides of a box. When the edge is curved, distortion naturally happens. The simplest way to see what's going on is to create an image of a grid of squares with numbers in them. Once you have that, you can determine what sort of distortion you'll need to do to the transparency map to get it to look like. The transparency map will be a grayscale image applied to the transparency channel of the material you're making.

Hope this helps.

Jon





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Joseph M. Morgan
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 16, 2006 at 5:41:00 pm

Jon,

It does help, as I've never thought of numbering a grid. You are correct that it is an edge. Look here:

http://71.15.100.36/temp/

There are 3 files there. "MicProject.jpg" is a frame of the mic as I have it now. "Top Half Mic.ai" is the edge profile for, well, just that. "Transparency Map.jpg" is an export of the map as a jpg. I have it exported as a Targa file and using it as a Layer Map, offset a little to move the edges to the back. I will eventually do a camera fly by, but for now, I'm getting along with that.

As you can see, however, the holes are stretched towards the top. The only theory I have is that the map isn't "tall" enough, and is therefore stretched vertically.

Joe





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promoboy
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 16, 2006 at 9:43:03 pm

I just want to say that your work is BEAUTIFUL! That mic looks amazing! Well, done. Very well done. How you guys are able to make stuff like is a mystery to me. WOW.

Mike.


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Jon Okerstrom
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 17, 2006 at 12:28:49 am

Hi Joe,

You're almost there. The aspect ratio of the map should be the same as the aspect ratio as the object you're trying to cover... height to width. You may be able to use a photoshop distortion filter to apply the inverse of what the map is doing on the object, so the circles aren't distorted.

Great job so far,

Jon



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Joseph M. Morgan
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 17, 2006 at 1:25:29 am

OK... making more sense. I suppose, too, that the width should be minimally the circumference of the mic? And the height should be minimally the height plus half of the circumference of the top? Then work out the aspect from there?

Here's a draft of the final plan...without the corrected map.

http://71.15.100.36/temp/Final%20Composition.jpg

Joe






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Joseph M. Morgan
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 17, 2006 at 2:22:03 am

There is something wrong. I made the width of the holes map the same as the circumference of the mic. Then I added holes vertically until the aspect ratio was as close as possible (fractions of an inch different). I reloaded the map into AE. No change. So I removed the layer and replaced it with the reloaded map. No change. It looks identical to before.

Do I have to totally zap the material for the top of the mic and rebuild it?

Joe




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Joseph M. Morgan
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX - I think I got it
on Dec 17, 2006 at 3:43:42 am

Jon... thanks for your help. I think I've got it. Here is the final comp (awaiting approval from client)...

http://71.15.100.36/temp/Final%20Composition.jpg

I was not exporting the new transparency map correctlyl, which is why it didn't change. It probably still doesn't look right if I look at the top of the mic... but since we're not looking at the top.... it works.

I touched it up by using the transparency map as a bump map as well.... it added a nice touch.

Any input would be appreciated....

Joe




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Jon Okerstrom
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX - I think I got it
on Dec 17, 2006 at 5:01:09 am

Hi Joe,

It's really coming along. Thanks for sharing.

One thought - you might want to play with the reflection map so it appears to contain colors or even suggestions of elements in your scene.

Jon



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Joseph M. Morgan
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX - I think I got it
on Dec 17, 2006 at 6:55:19 pm

Thanks for all your help Jon. At the end of the day ( or two days ), I still would like to find out how the numbered grid works and how to apply it to a 3D project for both bump maps and transparency maps.

I hope I understand your suggestion, and though it easier to add a reddish glow ... still not sure if it is what you had in mind, but I think it looks pretty nice now. My client is happy anyway.



One last question, if you don't mind. I put the mic together by designing every part and assembling it much the same way as I would if I was actually building it. I understand 3D ( from my design days ). Would this have been easier in something like Cinema 4D or another 3D app?

Joe



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Jon Okerstrom
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX - I think I got it
on Dec 17, 2006 at 9:57:41 pm

Hi Joe,

I do like the tint on the reflection map.

Whether it would be easier to build in another app depends on a lot of things:

The time it takes to build models like this in any app depends on how well you know the app. If you are starting from square 1, my belief is that the learning curve for lightwave, maya, etc is much steeper -- it would take you a lot longer to learn enough in those apps to be useful, than it does to learn how to work Invigorator and ProAnimator.

So long as you can break objects down into components that can be extruded from simple shapes, Invigorator and ProAnimator are up to the task. I've seen some very nice, very complex models created with these tools.

Having said that, there are some things that absolutely should be done in Lighwave or something like it -- organic shapes and character animation come to mind.

Hope this helps.

Jon



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Joseph M. Morgan
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Dec 17, 2006 at 1:26:12 am

Thanks... I'm learning as quickly as I can.
Joe




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AngeyM
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Jan 28, 2007 at 6:34:32 pm

I have a question to Jon Okerstrom. I tried to do your crown tutorial. But i can't put the layers like transparency map. Where is a mistake? I can put tga file instead of Layer. In your project - situation is the same. Help me, please!



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Jon Okerstrom
Re: How do I create a 3D Transparency Map - AE + ZAX
on Jan 28, 2007 at 9:04:40 pm

Hi AngeyM,

The transparency map can be a tga. Simply double click on the thumbnail square next to the transparency slider and use the pop-up navigator to find the image you want to use as your transparency map. It works on black, white and grayscale values. You don't need to adjust the transparency slider.

Be sure the material to which you've added the transparency map is then applied to your object.

You can also use a layermap as a transparency map to animate the transparency and get some really cool effects.

Does this helps?

Jon



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