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Shattered Glass Tutorial in Adobe After Effects

Evan Abrams
By Evan Abrams
By Evan Abrams

In this video tutorial you’ll discover how to create a dynamic shattered glass effect in After Effects – great for titles, trailers and promo videos!

Adobe After Effects

Add a slick shattered glass effect to your motion design and video editing projects – great for giving logos and title sequences maximum impact. Shattered glass is easy to simulate using the AE built-in Shatter effect.

In this video tutorial we walk through step by step through the process of creating this glass effect in your own After Effects video projects.

First we’ll add the shatter effect to shape layers in After Effects. Then, we’ll make the animation more dynamic with the After Effects virtual camera. Lastly, we’ll apply this effect to text.

Learn the basics of creating shattered glass in After Effects and then tweak this animation for your own custom effect:

Full Video Transcript:

[color-box color="gray"] This is Evan Abrams for PremiumBeat.com and today we’re going to be shattering glass in After Effects. We’ll be making use of the built-in shatter effect and you don’t even need to use external 3D programs to make it happen. So let’s get into After Effects and start breaking things.

So the first thing to do in After Effects is create a new composition and we’re going to go with the HDTV 1080 24 pre-set and duration of 1 minute long, background color black, and click OK. The first thing to do is to make the actual thing we’re going to shatter. So to do that we’re going to create a new solid and we’re just going to leave that solid as black because we’re using a very dark scene. So we’re just going to be shattering a black piece of glass, but you can use any piece you’d like. So if you use, say, like a gray, we’d use blackness of 10. And then we’ll put some text on top of it, for example, just type in the word, “glass.” Scale it up and put it in the center of the composition there.  This will serve as our glass. If you want to put other things, like a texture or any type of element that you want to shatter, it could be a logo, it could be anything, make sure you put it in this first composition. So select both of those and then we’re going to go layer pre-compose, and pre-compose both of those elements. And we’ll call this “Glass to shatter” so we know this is the glass we’re going to shatter. Good. Now to this we’re going to apply the shatter effect, and this will determine all of the attributes of the glass that we’re shattering. So as you can see by default, that actually shatters a bunch of bricks which is not exactly what we’re after.

So go into the shape and change the pattern to be glass instead of bricks. So you can see by default, also, it has fairly large chunks. We want to simulate the glass shattering in large chunks and then those chunks becoming smaller chunks. So in order to do that, we’re going to change the repetitions. So I’m just going to zoom in here on the timeline and we’re going to set key frames for the numbers of repetitions. So call up the keyframes by hitting U and I’m just going to zoom right in here. And all the action on these key frames can happen in the first five frames. So on frame one we want the repetitions to be 10. On frame two we want the repetitions to be 25. Frame three, we want them to be 35. Frame four, we want them to be 50. So they’re getting quite a bit bigger, quite a bit
faster. The extrusion depth we want to take down to .05 to make them a lot thinner, because we don’t want thick glass chunks coming out. We want a thin pane of glass shattering. And this is all a matter of scale so if you want thicker glass, of course leave the extrusion depth up.

The next thing to change is the force and the force is going to have a depth of .01 and strength of 4. It doesn’t need to be as strong as the default. And we’re also going to key frame the radius. So click on the stopwatch there and the radius we want on frame one to be .11. And then on frame two we’d like it to be .12. And then on frame four we’d like it to be .17. This is causing the radius to expand into that first line of chunks and then on the next step to make sure that those chunks are still consistent with the first key frame we made. And if you’re not scaling the size of the thing coming through the glass, here, it’s going to become a little bit strange as the size of the glass changes and it changes where the edge of the break is. So these numbers help keep this within the bounds of what would be an expected shatter pattern.

Now we leave the gradient and the physics alone, and we just come down here to the texture. We change the opacity down to .75. And in order to observe what we’re really doing, change it from wire frame and force to rendered, so we can actually really see the work we’re doing. Now the front mode is fine to be the layer, so it will display whatever the layer is. The side mode, however, we want to be color plus opacity, so the sides of the shattered pieces are going to be white and 75% transparent. And the back mode, we’re going to have that set just to be color, because we’re trying to fake sort of a shine that happens when light reflects off of the pieces. And we can fake this, quite simply, by having the back of the pieces be bright so it seem kind of like they’re tumbling in a light.

Now speaking of lighting, we have to change some of the lighting settings. And on those settings we’re going to change the light intensity to be at 5. So quite bright. And then we’re going to move that light to be behind the plane of the shatter, so it’s casting light from the back. And we’re going to put the ambient light up to .5 and we are going to change the light color to be sort of a light blue. So I’m going to go with something like, somewhere in the blues here, not a lot of saturation and brightness all the way up to 100%. So a nice and bright light blue. And that should do for the shatter.

And the next thing we’re going to want to put in is a camera so we’re able to control how we’re looking at this. So back in the effect we want to make sure that the camera system it’s using is the comp camera. So now when we move this camera around in the scene, it’s going to change the way we’re looking at the glass. So as you can see, you can move around all parts of this thing with the camera to get a better look at it. In order to control the camera better, we’re going to make a new null object and we’re going to parent the camera to the null object and use the null object’s rotation and position to move the camera around. So make the null object 3D, pull up its rotation, just use moving the null object around on the screen to change its position around. So we’d like to change its wire
rotation a little bit, so it’s kind of exploding out, and maybe set the camera a little bit below it. And something like that, and now we’ll just grab ahold of that Z access and just push ourselves in closer. Now you can see we’re nice and close, and it explodes right into the camera. So that’s quite good. Move us back so we can see the full frame of that break, and that should be good.

So we have this thing breaking and it creates a hole, so that’s all good. If you’d like to put a background, something in behind here, now is definitely the time to do that. So I’m going to create a new solid and make the solid completely black. Hit OK, good. And just move it in behind so it’s a light window that breaks and there’s nothing but blackness in behind. So take all of these elements and we’re going to pre-compose those and we’re going to call this “glass animation.” And now we’re going to time relap this make it more dramatic. So just go layer, time, enable time relapping. Now, we want to go to where that first shatter kind of happens, so it’s breaking. And we want the pieces to be right in our face, so that’s a good spot to start. And you can just go ahead about five or so frames, put a key frame there, as well.

Now we’re going to just go ahead to where all the pieces have fallen off and away and set a key frame there. Advance the last key frame and remove it, because really our animation is done after all our pieces are off. What we’re going to do is grab these last two key frames here, and we’re going to move them away from the first two key frames. And After Effects fills in the rest of the information to make this floating glass happen for us. Then we’ll just pinch the last two together a little bit, so that it’s floating and then it speeds away. And now take these center two keyframes, so they’re the start and end of the slowdown, pull them control or command, click on them, turn them into these nice circles to auto their values. And then you can see that it kind of gradually gets into the
slowing and then it comes out of the slowing, as well.

And the last thing to add to all of this stuff is what’s called a force motion blur, which will force these things to be blurry. So that it’s blurry and then it slows down like the camera is speeding up to catch these things, but you still have that nice motion blur when it breaks open. So stylistically, we’re also going to want to make a new adjustment layer and on that adjustment layer I’m going to put a curves. I’m going to use this curves just to kind of make these things brighter and a little more contrast. I’m going to go into the red and pull some of the reds out. I’m going to go into the blues, and add some blue. Just to give it a blue look, because for whatever reason things at nighttime are blue and we associate blue with dark things.

Now we’re going to create a new, solid, maybe comp size, keep it black and put it below everything. And on this layer we’re going to put a ramp and make the start of the ramp to be sort of a lighter color, so maybe a 20%. And the end color, make it fully dark. Good. Set the start of the ramp to be in the center. Set the end of the ramp to be out of frame, down in the corner. And then set your glass animation to be on add so that you can see we’ve got this nice gradient just behind, coloring everything. And maybe change the gradient to a radial gradient. And that looks quite nice. Although, the linear gradient, you know, there’s something to be said for that, as well. So just make this a little darker, I’m happy with those results. So now you have a nice, shattering title of whatever you put on that first layer.

And you can always go back to that layer, the glass to shatter layer, and then change this. So if you don’t want it to say “glass,” it can say, “EC Abrams from Premiumbeat.com.” And then you can have a nice, little title here. You might just want to size that up and put that in a better spot, but all told, that pretty much sums up what we’re making. The last thing to do is, of course, export it, where you’ll just set your work area and render it out.

So, this has been Evan Abrams for PremiumBeat.com, your source for tips and tricks in After Effects and other applications, on our blog. Stop by and learn some stuff. And of course come to PremiumBeat.com for all of your music and sound effects needs. I’m Evan Abrams. Thank you so much for watching. Subscribe to our channels and I will see you around the internet. [/color-box]