How Was It Made? - The DH Productions Home Animation
If you've ever visited our website you'll know that the first thing you see on the homepage, is an animation that reveals the text "DH PRODUCTIONS". When we first created the site, we intended for the video to be a show reel of the work we had done. We've been working hard on our projects and we want to showcase the best bits in the future in a great portfolio piece, but during the start of DH Productions, something needed to fill the space.
The animation is very clean, minimalist, and smart. It doesn't need lots going on, but the varying camera angles and pans created when animating add to the realistic feel of the 3D effect. This story will look at how the text animation was created for our website.
Just like most of the animations we create, this sequence was made in After Effects. There are some key differences to how the animation file is set up in this instance. I should start by saying that, if you've never used After Effects before, it isn't the ideal software to use for 3D animation. Those blockbuster films made by Disney or DreamWorks are not made with After Effects. There is more specific software out there. After Effects can do a great deal however, and with the right kind of plug-ins can cope with some great looking 3D sequences.
This text animation doesn't require any plug-ins, just After Effects. If you have it, you can have a go yourself. To get going with the animation, you first need to go into the 'Advanced' options in the 'Composition Settings', and change the renderer from 'Classic 3D' to 'Ray-traced 3D' (In the options next to this you may need to lower the quality down so that your computer doesn't struggle). This change is important as it allows us to extrude shapes, objects or text within After Effects, and you'll understand what I mean if you've watched the animation. The text 'DH Productions' extrudes outwards as if from a blank wall, and you can see them extend one by one in sequence. You cannot achieve this with 'Classic 3D', so we must first make this change in the settings.
Now we need to set up our scene. In our animation, we created a white background and white text saying, 'DH Productions' - but if you're trying this out make it however you like. I recommend you use the same colour for both as it looks cleaner. You then need two key additions to the project - a camera and light.
Add a camera to start, and an 'ambient' light that adds light to everywhere. Then start adding 'point' lights, which are just like spot lights - you'll need several dotted about to create all the shadows on the text. Finally ensure that the text is set to cast shadows from any light that hits it, and create an extrusion depth of roughly 200.
Make sure that you enable "per character 3D" on the text, so that each character moves individually. Use the 'range selector' to start and end the extrusion of each letter in sequence. The letters will automatically extrude from left to right as they were written.
Time to make that animation look a bit fancier. Create multiple cameras, because the next step is to place them in different positions and angles to create the appearance of different shots in the same scene. Find spots that are interesting, and even make the camera move or pan (nice and slow), to add some variation.
A tip at this point is to cut between cameras while a letter is still extruding, and not when one just completes its extrusion. Cutting when a letter finishes can look disjointed, as if the cuts aren’t synced up properly.
The rest is up to you! Find those interesting angles for the camera, make sure you have light in all the right places, and get animating.