When Life is Shit, put Glitter on it!

In my previous post I described my experiences from Immortal, and what I haven’t told you yet is that this show was not short on glittery things, too. As fans will know, he had that infamous glove all stitched up with glittery stones and on several occasions also wore clothing made of metallic fabrics or likewise covered with such stuff and metal threaded yarn. Glitter generally seems a popular thing with music stars and other VIPs judging from some stuff they’re wearing. Mariah Carey even made a film and an album called Glitter and I just can’t get that strange picture out of my head what her considerable cleavage might look like covered with glittery make-up powder. Oh my! ;-)

For an artist this stuff is somewhat of a nightmare because either it drives you nuts when filming/ shooting and it’s causing noise and artifacts, it’s causing one more time pain for compression and just on the opposite side it’s notoriously difficult to simulate. The time of the year being what it is, however, it is a recurring popular thing and it got me thinking on how to best fake it in After Effects. The physics are simple enough – some randomly oriented crystals, metal/ glass/ plastic flakes or other shapes are somehow stuck on a surface and whenever one of their facets is oriented in such a way that there is a perfect angle of reflection between light and camera, it makes a bright blip more or less. But how do we mimic this behavior so it’s simple, yet efficient and controllable?  Without being able to create custom 3D shaders that randomize the orientation of the rays like you would e.g. in a 3D program, it’s once more down to Fractal Noise to save the day (or any other effect or plug-in that is able to generate tiny patterns and make one of its parameters respond to the changes for that matter).

As always, at first it seemed so glaringly obvious and simple, but the devil is in the details and my own sense of perfection got in the way, so some things took a moment to figure out, even if the underlying method is super simple. In particular finding the right size and intensity for the effects can take some experimentation. Additionally, you will have to use a few layers to keep the individual effects tweakable while at the same time producing convincing shading. I also got myself into trouble by rigging the CC Sphere effect so it would respond to a 3D light. It’s funny that it has been there forever but unlike its brother CC Cylinder does not even react to camera movement. Now it finally does and when Christmas is over and you won’t have much need for glittery baubles, I’m sure you’ll at least find that part come in handy. In addition to the spheres the file also contains all the examples from the video that illustrate the technique using basic 3D layers, Shapeshifter and Element. Head over to my download site to get the good stuff and avoid your favorite aunt calling you a scumbag because you didn’t send her season’s greetings. Snatching one of the spheres, hanging it on one of the pine twigs, putting a candle or some electrical lighting on it and then adding your text should be super easy now.

Christmas Baubles with Glitter

Glittery Text with Element 3D

Unimportant sidenote: Considering today’s forum complaints about Adobe‘s latest Creative Cloud exclusive updates I’m kinda tempted to put on my pink Tutu and strap on my fairy wings to spread some joy, but well, some things don’t get better even with tons of glitter…

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