The Shatter Effect in After Effects
By Rich Young | June 01, 2012
Shatter is an older 8-bit plug-in that ships with After Effects. Originally developed by Brian Maffitt under the Atomic Power banner, Shatter is mostly used for shattering glass, walls, puzzles, and so forth, but also used to generate 3D text or shape blocks.
It's fairly easy to generate text quickly with Shatter, as shown in numerous tutorials like Creating 3D Extruded Text by Aharon Rabinowitz and Extruding 3D Text & Shapes 2: The Shatter Method from Andrew Devis. The initial results are limited, though you can help to sell it with enhancements like adding subtle textures strategically, a stroke layer, Bevel Alpha (or some stylize or displace filter), lighting effects, or maybe a scale-down to smooth edges. For a survey of methods to generate text in AE, see Creating 3D Text in After Effects here on PVC.
AE Help has details and tips on using Shatter, but the mother lode was posted last year when Total Training opened the vault to free a comprehensive tour of the Shatter plug-in by Brian Maffitt. Although Shatter has been updated to use Comp Cameras, the interface of the plug-in is essentially the same.
The belly of the beast is custom Shatter Maps that allow user-defined fragments or particles, a topic covered by Brian in videos 4 and 5. Here's Brian with a 45-minute intro; you can catch the other 5 parts in Favorite videos on the Total Training YouTube Channel:
Design a Breathtaking Body Shatter Effect by Lloyd Alvarez was inspired by Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" (clarifying that the Shatter map sample is only frame 1), which in turn inspired After Effects: The Dark Knight by John Dickinson. Later, Andrew Kramer used the Shatter plug-in in a unique way to build a Procedural Crumble to etch into stone.
Jesse Toula also explored Custom Shatter Maps for the Shatter effect, finding that Shatter maps do not ignore black, they ignore transparency. He also discovered that 'Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Blue, Green, Red, White, and Black. Those are the only important colors to consider when making a Shatter map, and anything else will be "clamped" to those colors inside Shatter. You can turn off "interpolate palette" in Colorama to force the primaries in the shatter map, which will give you an excellent visual preview of the results.' Here's his tutorial:
Some of the later tutorials don't use the Shatter plug-in at all. Disintegration by Andrew Kramer uses humor, displacement, turbulence, and the built-in Particle World filter. Another Video Copilot tutorial, Shatterize, used CC Pixel Polly instead of Shatter, and in a more complicated way than Brian Maffitt did in his original Pixel Polly demos using multiple instances of the filter.
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editblog - Tue, May 21 2013 - 7:54 am
@videoaaron @tstrachanedit Great keyset … I need to update the Keyboard Manifesto for @AdobePremiere Don't really think it'll work for FCPX
editblog - Tue, May 21 2013 - 6:46 am
@amyfame Reading into the comments on an article like that is always fun too. overall not a happy article for our generation to read