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Trying To Replicate 1980's Motion Graphics

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Ben Mercer
Trying To Replicate 1980's Motion Graphics
on Jan 20, 2012 at 6:28:27 am

I've been playing around trying to create something that looks like this cool retro intro to ABC's Sunday Night Movie. The way the text streaks has be a bit bamboozled.

So far I've applied the echo effect and spent some time trying to tweak it, but I can't get long enough streaks without them going completely opaque and looking loosing all semblance of the text outline. Trapcode's Shine plugin seems to have a different look to it. I can't get any blur effects to produce similar results either, though I'm sure there is a way. Any ideas? Thanks.

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Andrew Somers
Re: Trying To Replicate 1980's Motion Graphics
on Jan 21, 2012 at 5:55:31 am

80's? More like 70's IMO :)

"Digital 3D" motion graphics didn't really become "the cool thing" in broadcast till about 1984, though the first digital visual effect was in the film "Westworld" circa 1975.

But what you see in the "ABC Movie" is a traditional cell animation and probably combined with an optical printing technique know as aerial imaging - so called because the image is formed "in space" and not on a ground glass or screen. The "extrusion" effect is done by moving the image (forward or back) with the shutter of the camera portion of the printer open for the durations of the move - then the shutter is closed, the image reset to the next starting position, and another move-during-exposure made.

Optical printer:

SlitScan is a different technique that is used for distorting a moving image (makign a starship get longer in the jump to light speed for instance), but is not necessary to create the extrusion effect seen in that sequence.

If you want to emulate this look in After Effects, you can do it using some of the same techniques, albeit digitally - create the 2D artwork (illustrator), then use masks and diffusions (i.e. glow) to augment, and animate in 3D in AE.

You might try adding the extrusion effects by using motion blur and Z-axis moves in a pre comp - you'll probably need an expression to do this, so that on each frame has a very large Z axis move creating the moblur extrusion. The only problem with AE is that you are somewhat limited by the number of iterations of mo blur.

Hmmm... just thinking - if you do a number of layers (stacked< and mo blur them all, you might be able to get it...

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Andrew Somers
Re: Trying To Replicate 1980's Motion Graphics
on Jan 21, 2012 at 8:51:35 am

Okay, so try this:

1) Create a text layer, and make it outline text (stroke, no fill)

2) Set the comp motion blur to 64 frames under comp settings, advanced. Also set the shutter angle to 360 degrees.

3) Work in 32 bit mode, and put the exposure plug in on the text to bring the brightness up as it will be dim from the blur.

4) If you want really long trails, you'll need to write an expression that will stack several layers of text with an offset, as the max 64 samples of motion blur is not enough for really long trails.

5) To make the front solid, duplicate the text layer and turn MoBlur OFF, and make it filled, and adjust the stroke size as needed for a tight fit.

The effect looks cool - I'll make a tutorial if I have the time next weekend.


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Johan Malmsten
Re: Trying To Replicate 1980's Motion Graphics
on Jul 15, 2012 at 2:54:49 am

I've been tinkering around in after-effects now for a while today/night and found that when they added extrusions in AE CS6 we actually got something that can emulate alot of the aerial-printing/slit-scan effects of those eighties really well.

What you need to do is simply extrude it a lot and then in the materials-options you set Transparency to a very high value. This will create those see-through walls and it can be animated in a simple way.

Now, if they only added options to curve extrusions. But using just the simple straight extrusion available I managed fairly quickly to animate a rudimentary Superman intro title. And remember, this works with other vector-layers too (logos) :)

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