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  1. 3D & Motion Graphics
  2. Motion Graphics

Aetuts+ Hollywood Movie Titles Series: Harry Potter


You don't have to be a graduate of Hogwarts to create cool titles! In this tutorial you will learn the simplicity of creating an amazing looking Harry Potter "The Half-Blood Prince" introduction, using only four photographs and the power of After Effects. So quit your Quidditch and have a seat. It's gonna be magical!


Before You Begin

We are going to start by making the text. Firstly download the "Harry Potter Cover Font"


Once you have downloaded and installed the font we can begin.

The photographs I have used I have taken myself, you should be able to find suitable images from a reputable stock site.

Step 1

Make a new composition with your desired aspect ratio and 1 frame duration ( as we're creating a still image ). However, the width will need to be around or
larger than 3000 pixels (so that when the text comes past the camera some of the quality is maintained)

Step 2

In this new composition create a new text layer and type in your desired text. Make this text grey and large enough to fill the entire composition.

Step 3

Select the Text layer and go to LAYER - LAYER STYLES - BEVEL AND EMBOSS. Change the "Technique" to "Chisel Hard". The "Depth" to 150, or whatever looks best.
Change the "Size" to 50 (or again, whatever looks best for you) and then Soften it between 1 and 2.

Step 4

Now it's time to add the texture, for this you will need a "grunge" texture (you can use any you have on your computer), which is easily obtained through a stock image site such as SXC Stock Images.
Once you have downloaded the texture that you like, import it into after effects.

Step 5

Duplicate the text layer, and insert the grunge texture between the two(if the texture is too small, scale it up until it fits), change the TRKMAT of the texture to the duplicated text layer ALPHA. Then set the
Texture layer to OVERLAY.

Step 6

Now select your Grunge texture layer and choose EFFECT - COLOUR CORRECTION - HUE/SATURATION and reduce the saturation of the texture by 100. Also add EFFECT - COLOUR CORRECTION - LEVELS and adjust the levels until your
texture has a deeper contrast to it.

Step 7

At this point, your text should look something similar to this. Which means you are now ready to save. Go to COMPOSITION - ADD TO RENDER QUEUE.
Click "Output Module" and change the format to "PNG Sequence" and change the "Channels" to "RGB+Alpha". Choose "OK" and render this file out. Then we can begin to create the background!

Step 8

Make a new composition at your desired resolution and make the duration 15 seconds.

Step 9

Create a new camera by going to LAYER - NEW - CAMERA and apply these settings;

Step 10

Import the picture that you want to use for your main background into the composition (ill be using a mainly overcast sky to create a solid background), make it a 3d layer and make the position 320, 180, 20000 and then scale it until it fills the entire composition.

Step 11

Now we're ready to import our main clouds, the ones that are going to add detail and movement to the background, for this i've used clouds which are being hit from the side by the sun.
Once you have imported them, mask out the undesired areas and feather the mask to a level of 200+. Set this to a 3D layer and set the position to somewhere similar to the example image.

Step 12

Now duplicate this cloud layer and rotate it aboout 180 degrees on the Z axis and move to the Right side of the screen. Place this slightly closer to the camera this time as outlined in the image(s).

Step 13

Once again you must duplicate this layer and rotate it till it is flat against the bottom of the composition, this time, like last, move it even closer to the camera, this time, scale the image down slightly, as outlined in the image(s)

Step 14

Now repeat this process until you're happy with how it looks. (Remember the more you add, the longer the rendering time will be! But the better it will look!). I've added one more layer of clouds to the top and left it there. Your composition and timeline should now look similar to mine.

Step 15

This is an optional stage. At this point you may be looking at your composition and thinking "it doesn't really blend together as well as the example looks"
so Don't be afraid to add "Brightness and Contrast" or "Levels" adjustments to the cloud layers to make them blend better. I can't tell you what
settings to use, because everyones clouds will be different. But please take this opportunity to play around and change the settings to make it look better.

Step 16

We're now at the point to start animating the camera, this is a relatively simple and quick stage, so lets get on with it!

Take your Camera Layer
and press "P" and make sure you're at frame 0. Next to where it says Position there should be a clock symbol, click that, then go to the last frame of the composition, and move your camera towards the background layer
either by typing in the position value directly, or using the camera tool with the mouse (By Pressing C) (Track Z camera tool). Don't forget, my examples are a guideline, dont forget to do what looks best for your individual scene.


Step 17

Now we have the basic composition ready. So it's time to create the lightning. For this section, you'll need a photograph of sun behind clouds, giving an illuminated edge to them. Make this composition as large
as your photograph is and about one second in duration. Once you've imported the photo to this comp, you need to mask out the undesired areas, and you'll be left with an image like this.

Step 18

The next step is to animate the opacity of this layer. This is straghtforward. Open the opacity tab of the layer (Press "T") Next to where it says Opacity, press the clock symbol. At frame 0 set the opacity to 0, go forward 4 frames, and set the opacity to 50, forward another 3 frames, and set the opacity to 20, forward 6 frames and set the opacity to 90. then go to the last frame of the comp (1 second) and set the opacity to 0 again.
This should create a nice lightning esque effect. However this is not strict and you can time this to behave however you like.

Step 19

This step will require you to use your imagination. You now have the composition with your background and the composition with your lightning, drag the lightning composition into your background composition and make it a 3d layer.
Now you can duplicate this as many times as you like and place it wherever you like to in the composition and choose the time the lightning strikes. This part
is entirely your descicion, so have fun with it! You may want to change the blending mode to "add" or "screen".
At this point i've also added an adjustment layer with a "levels" modifier to make the scene a bit darker.

Step 20

At this point you're probably thinking, "theres something missing!" Well you're right, now we're going to use the text we made right at the beginning of this tutorial.
So import that into after effects and drag it into your background composition, then turn it to a 3d layer and place it about halfway between your camera start point and the furthest image (on the Z axis).
Scrub through your video and make sure the logo is aligned correctly with the camera to pass through in between the two words.

Step 21

Now we are nearly at the final stage. Up to this point, you should have created the Text, the 3d environment with a camera, and included the lightning and text into the scene.
All this leaves is the colour correction! So make a new adjustment layer and add EFFECTS - COLOUR CORRECTION - HUE/SATURATION. Reduce the saturation to about -75 or lower.

Step 22

Using the same adjustment layer that you just created add EFFECTS - COLOUR CORRECTION - COLOUR BALANCE. Now once again let your creativity take over and you decide the best colour for your personal use.
I'd personally increase the blue shadows and the blue midtones.

Step 23

Finally add another adjustment layer and add EFFECT - COLOUR CORRECTION - LEVELS. After you've added this, either lighten or darken it until it looks right for you.
At this point you'll have a result something like this.

Step 24

Now all there is left to do is to render and amaze your friends!

Finally! Well done if you stuck through this tutorial, as it is my first!

I hope you've enjoyed it and found it helpful. I hope that some of the tips and creative ideas i've shown you help you in future projects of your own.

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