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Bump-Mapping in After Effects -- Moving and Sizing Various Bump-mapped Images

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sam stalos
Bump-Mapping in After Effects -- Moving and Sizing Various Bump-mapped Images
on Mar 31, 2014 at 10:24:19 pm

I am attempting to create a bum-mapped image using CC After Effects.

I am using a textured jpg of leather exactly 1280 x 720, the same size as the video composition. No additional texturing of this layer is required.

Although After Effects does not have a dedicated bump-map Effect, a bump-map feature is contained in the Glass Effect.

The image(s) being bump-mapped consist of six smaller b&w jpgs of different sizes. For purposes of discussion, let’s call these smaller b&w jpgs farm animals.


1. The first problem comes in getting all six farm animals “under” that leather –textured layer. The bump-map in Glass allows only one other layer to be bump-mapped. So if the leather jpg is on Layer 1, and the Chicken jpg is on Layer 2, one simply selects the Chicken Layer in the drop down panel when the Glass Effect is placed onto the Leather Layer.

That’s fine for the chicken, but how does one get the other five farm animals “under” the leather?

2. The second problem comes in sizing and placing those six farm animals so that they fit in desired locations on the 1280 X 720 leather jpg. After Effects’ Bump-Map seems to automatically apply a “best fit” command to the farm animal layer. There doesn’t appear to be any way to size or place each farm animal “under” that leather.

So how does one size and place the b&w jpg and defeat this “best fit” default?

One solution is to place and size all six farm animals on a separate, “composite” .png that is constructed at 1280 x 720. If one takes this route, individual control over each farm animal is lost in terms of optimizing the subtleties offered in the Glass Effect. And making any adjustments to size or position is a tedious process since one has to keep going back to the “composite” .png to make the slightest change.

3. I noticed that once a single jpg containing one farm animal is “behind” the Leather Layer – using the commands contained in the Bump Map menu of Glass -- that bump-mapped image cannot be Transformed using the normal Transform commands and the Time Line controls for that farm animals’ layer. Even though the actual b&w jpg responds to the Transform commands, the bump-mapped image remains fixed.

So how does one animate (move) the individual farm animals once they are bump-mapped?


Riddle me this oh wise and noble cow?


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Bump-Mapping in After Effects -- Moving and Sizing Various Bump-mapped Images
on Apr 1, 2014 at 4:39:27 pm

I don't have AE in front of me, and I've never farted around with the Glass effect (no need to), but AE follows certain conventions. So i don't feel bad offering advice:

To get all the layers bumpy, apply the effect to all the animal layers. Make sure you have one bump map for each animal layer, and be careful as you assign a uniqure bump map to each animal layer.

A best fit default can probably be defeated by twirling down those properties you haven't yet looked at, and finding it.

To animate your bumpy animals, precompose them. Make sure you pick the correct animal-bump map pair, and move all attributes into the precomp.

If you want transparency around your critters, mask off the parts you don't want -- hey, they're still images: it won't take that long!

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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sam stalos
Re: Bump-Mapping in After Effects -- Moving and Sizing Various Bump-mapped Images
on Apr 1, 2014 at 8:36:13 pm

Thank you for responding Dave.

The task seems easy to envision but I haven't found an elegant solution.

Here's what I have completed thus far. The file (BumpMapTest1.avi) was downloaded to CreativeCow using the Video Upload icon. However, I don't see it attached yet, so I'm going have guess how that attachment is to be made.


To make this test, I first rendered a .mov clip animating all of the various "farm animal" images --which aren't really farm animals, as you can see. Of course I'm having to do a lot of guessing in this phase, but it's doable.

1. You'll notice the edge around some .png images, so your advice to mask those images is well taken. However, if you'll notice the arrow image, it is also a .png but needs no masking. The arrow was constructed in Corel's vector program (CorelDraw) and converted to .png. I wonder if that's not a better solution than to mask all of those other moving .pngs. The arrow is a little difficult to see. It moves right to left in the lower 2/3’s and stops on the lower right. It gets placed behind the image of the guy sitting down.

As a curious note, this render was done using AE 3.0, which accepts this .png and does not border the image file. However, AE CC does not accept this image .png, and I’ll have to investigate why.

2. I'm a bit confused about "have one bump map for each animal layer, and be careful as you assign a unique bump map to each animal layer." I assumed the bump-map can only be assigned to the textured layer, not to the individual animal layers, which means only one bump-map per composition. I'm pretty sure I tested the multi-bump-map option first and found it wouldn't work, but I'll give it a second try immediately.

3. I obviously have work to do with various controls to make the single images seem more bumped rather than simply superimposed with a degree of transparency. The arrow is probably the best example here, and I’ll have to play with the degree of white/black intensity in the original images, but all of this can be worked out.

Thus far, my methodology is very clumsy. I was hoping to find a way to achieve more control without the separate .mov clip guessing.

By the way, to get this test file down to a reasonable size, I first rendered the mov+leather files in AE to .avi so I could use the VirtualDub > HandBrake (Xvid) method of compression. I see the note on Creative Cow's page to submit the original footage and they would do the compression. But I can't imagine sending you them 2 Gig worth of material. Using HandBrake it went from 2 Gig to 19.6 Meg. Not bad.

Thank you, Dave, and feel free to add any other ideas or advise.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Bump-Mapping in After Effects -- Moving and Sizing Various Bump-mapped Images
on Apr 2, 2014 at 3:47:02 pm

Sorry, I don't see any links, and it's a little tough to visualize what you're talking about.

However, I gather that you're somewhat new to AE. Despite your previous experience with other applications, you should understand that trying to use AE intuitively almost always results in wasted effort and frustration. Without knowing the basics, AE can be a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

Here's a good starting point:
http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2010/01/getting-started-with-after-eff....

Don't view this as an insult to your abilities. If you're new to AE, you will have many moments when the light bulb comes on, and if you're experienced in other applications, they'll happen rather quickly.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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