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Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size

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Sabine Waring
Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 12:40:11 pm

Hi everyone,

I have a problem that I can't seem to be able to wrap my head around.

I'm working on a text animation piece where the text has a colorful drop shadow that gives it a sorta 3D-look.



I'm zooming in and out with a camera, so all my layers have the 3D-switch enabled.



As you can see, the drop shadow effect does not scale relatively to the text but seems to preserve it's original size of 14px - that's not what I want.

I tried precomposing the text, and then zooming in and out, which works beautifully except that naturally the text gets pixelated when zooming in, so I have to enable "collapse transformations" and then due to AE's render order I am having the same issue again.

I feel like I'm missing some obvious trick to keep the shadow size relative to the text, other than making a second layer underneath in a different color. :/

Does anyone have a hint for me?


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Erik Waluska
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 4:27:06 pm

"making a second layer underneath in a different color"

Yeah, that's you're best/easiest solution. The drop shadow effect is not "camera aware" so it doesn't react when you zoom in/out, it stays the same size while the text size changes. It's possible to write a couple of expressions to link to the camera Z position, etc. but it won't give you any better results than just adding a duplicate text layer underneath the main one. Another option would be to add a parallel light and turn on 3D shadows, then turn on the 3D switch for your BG layer, enable "accept shadows" and move it back in Z space until you get the shadow distance you want. It's a lot more trouble than duplicating the text layer but it is camera aware and the perspective of the shadow will change based on the position of the camera, which you may like better.


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Jon Bagge
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 6:01:24 pm

The problem is that After Effects renders effects before transforms. So the 'drop shadow' effect doesn't know that you're scaling the image.

Another solution apart from what's been suggested is to use Layer Style -> Drop Shadow. Layer styles are applied last in the render order, so it should scale to the image.

--------------
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Jon Bagge - Editor - London, UK
Avid - FCP - After Effects


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Erik Waluska
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 6:43:21 pm

That's true except she said she is zooming in and out with a camera, not scaling the text, so layer styles will not work in this case. Scaling the text instead of using a camera is one option, but you will lose any perspective lens distortion produced by the camera. Personally, I have experienced all sorts of weird buggy problems with 3D layers that have layer styles applied so I recommend avoiding them.


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Erik Waluska
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 6:47:44 pm

Sorry Sabine, I said "she", I was confusing this poster with another I was replying to earlier.


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Sabine Waring
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 6:52:16 pm

I actually did try the layer style drop shadow first, and then the drop shadow effect.

The issue is the same in all cases, even if I scale the layer with layer styles instead of using a camera.

This is so annoying, having to make an additional layer for every single one is gonna complicate the whole animation process so much.

I keep thinking there must be some way to force AE to render the effect before applying transformations.


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Erik Waluska
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 8:48:58 pm

You can if you use the Distort>Transform effect but it's raster-based so when you scale over 100% it pixelates so that won't work. If you're just worried about having too many layers to deal with then just pre-comp the text and the duplicate text layer that's acting as your drop shadow. Turn on 3D for the text layers and then collapse transformations for the pre-comp. This way the text remains vector, you only have the one pre-comp layer instead of two text layers to deal with for animation, and the "shadow" will scale correctly.


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Sabine Waring
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 3, 2011 at 9:05:39 pm

I know what you mean, but the issue is that I am also using Text Animators on the text, I can't do that with a precomp containing two text layers. I'm gonna have to animate everything on one text layer, duplicate it and reposition it and do the whole process over if I change just the tiniest thing in the animation on the first layer.

Guess I'm just gonna have to suck it up. Thanks for all your help though. =)


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Walter Soyka
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 4, 2011 at 6:04:57 am

Erik suggested using an expression to adjust the Drop Shadow effect's Distance property according to the layer's distance from the camera.

You might try this expression to do that. Alt-Click the Drop Shadow Distance stopwatch, then enter the following expression:

cam = this_comp.active_camera;
d = length(sub(position , cam.position));
s = d / cam.zoom;
10 / s;

Tweak that 10 constant to taste.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Sabine Waring
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 4, 2011 at 10:01:32 am

Walter, that works perfectly, thank you so much!!

I don't know a lot about expressions, I really really need to start working on that.


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Jeremy Allen
Re: Issue with 3DLayers & Drop Shadows Size
on Apr 4, 2011 at 3:39:43 pm

Just a suggestion, you should check Walter's response as the solution so other people can find it quickly if they have the same issue.

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