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Need to create shedding fur text

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Fionna Mariani
Need to create shedding fur text
on Dec 3, 2009 at 10:31:36 pm

I am creating the opening title for a students thesis animation. I have a font (that has been altered in illustrator, so is no longer editable), and I need to add fur that sits on it, covering the text and then sheds to reveal the letters. I'm not sure how I should tackle this project. I have the Trapcode plugin and I tried using Particular with a custom particle (a strand of hair) and had it "stick" to the letters, but don't know how to get it to shed and then sit on the ground, around the letters.

I am wondering if there is a way for me to achieve this effect, only using AE and Trapcode plugins?

Thanks,
Fionna M.
NYU Grad student


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Need to create shedding fur text
on Dec 4, 2009 at 3:19:57 am

Interesting.
Is the shedding caused by anything? i.e. do the letters shake, is there a shaving device, etc.?

My initial thought is that you could create the hairy letters, then create falling hair (separate effects) and composite the two together. You'd have the hair falling off animation as the hair becomes less and less on the letters. They don't have to be attached. Hair is fine enough and there should be enough of it, that it's not noticeable that the hair that is actually attached to the letters isn't the hair that's falling off.
That idea would work especially well if the letters shook the hair off or if there was a razor or something that could cover up part of it.

Alternatively, if all the hair is supposed to simply fall off all at once, you can get all your hair in place using Particular with no gravity, then keyframe gravity on.

Or you could use the time option to freeze time until the moment you want the hair to drop.

In any case, you'd want to use the floor physics model, set to bounce, but turn down the bounce.

I'm not in front of my AE machine at the moment so I can't whip up some examples, but those are just some thoughts off the top of my head. If you want it to look realistic it may take a while. (Although, to be fair, hairy letters don't exactly occur that often in nature.)

Let us know how it goes and if you find any other ways to do it; there are probably dozens.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Need to create shedding fur text
on Dec 4, 2009 at 5:39:58 pm

Oh no, here comes the Voice Of Gloom, Doom, And Pessimism again.

Until just a few years ago, modeling hair, getting it to look right and working out the physics so it behaves properly was one of the most difficult challenges faced by HOLLYWOOD -- guys with access to top-of-the-line hardware and software, gigantic render farms, and people who could write proprietary routines to improve the performance of their mind-bending 3D systems... and effects budgets in the tens of millions.

Granted, hardware and software has improved in the last five years. No doubt about that.

But have desktop computers, After Effects and third-party plugins improved to the point where you can create photorealistic hair that would rival film makers' best efforts in 3D five years ago?

I fear that in a particle system, even if you could get the "shedding" part of the animation problem solved, it would sill look like a bunch of brown, inflexible popsicle sticks hitting the floor.

I fear that it would be difficult to shoot it as a practical effect, i.e. a bunch of meticulously arranged, real-live hair to drop properly on cue.

But that's just me.... and I'm glad it's not MY project.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Need to create shedding fur text
on Dec 4, 2009 at 8:52:20 pm

Yeah, I honestly can't think of any way, other than hiring a special-effects post house, to make this look good. I tried to come up with a practical way to do it too, but the only thing I could come up with is some sort of electronically controlled static electricity holding hair on letters and then being turned off...
Lord knows it's not going to look terribly photorealistic in AE. But perhaps photorealism is not the goal; perhaps only the concept needs to be conveyed. With some dedicated work and quite a bit of time, I'm sure that could be accomplished.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Need to create shedding fur text
on Dec 4, 2009 at 10:54:46 pm

[Michael Szalapski] "But perhaps photorealism is not the goal; perhaps only the concept needs to be conveyed. "

Yeah, this could be a project better suited for cel animation.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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