DigiEffects FreeForm is a popular After Effects plug-in as it adds functionality many users have been desperate for -- 3D distortion directly within After Effects. It’s now shipping as part of CS5, so everyone can benefit from a whole new perspective in work output.

Step 1
Create a new composition using your preferred settings; we’ve opted for a 720P composition at 25fps and 10 seconds in length. Once you’re inside your composition, import an image to act as a texture for the 3D displacement we’re about to apply. Something without too much contrast works best.

Step 2

Create a new solid, black and the same size as the composition. Next create a new text layer in white and type in your choice of phrase. Add a new Fast Blur effect (Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Fast Blur) and animate the blurriness from 600 to 10 over the course of 1 second. Pre-compose these layers and move all attributes into the new composition.

Step 3
Drag your texture onto the composition timeline to create a layer. With this layer active choose Effect > DigiEffects > FreeForm AE. In the Effect Controls panel set the displacement layer to be the text pre-comp we created in the previous step, and increase the Mesh Sub-Divisions to at least 250 to get a high quality result.

Other highlights in After Effects CS5

  • After Effects is now a native 64-bit application, allowing it to use all your computer’s RAM.
  • Upgraded third-party plug-ins Mocha 2 and Color Finesse 3 LE have improved functionality and performance.
  • Support for Photoshop CS5 Repoussé layers enables quick development of high quality 3D objects.
  • Automatic creation of initial keyframes in new mode.

For more of our coverage of Adobe Creative Suite 5, click here.