3D Flip Book Effect Help

Shortcuts

What is the 3D Flip Book Effect?
Step One - Insert Footage
Step Two - Customize Pages
Step Three - Choose Preset
CONTROL LAYER: Page-Turn Controls
CONTROL LAYER: Perspective Controls
CONTROL LAYER: Corner Peel Controls
CONTROL LAYER: Page Toss Controls
CONTROL LAYER: Light & Shadow Controls
CONTROL LAYER: Position & Camera Controls
CONTROL LAYER: Page Stack Controls
CONTROL LAYER: Expression References
Troubleshooting

 

The following instructions can be found in the video tutorial, as well as inside the template.

What is the 3D Flip Book Effect?
The 3D Flip Book Effect is an Adobe After Effects tempate for CS5 and all later versions. A template is a project file in which the work has already been done, and the user needs only to insert their footage and make their own adjustments. The flip book effect will make your footage look like a series of still images printed or drawn on the fast-turning pages of a flipbook. The page-turns are automatic. You simply use the controls to set the speed, and whether you want intervals between page turns, and the flip book will do the rest. Inside this template are numerous controls for customization. You can also use the default settings and quickly work your way through the 3 steps if you just need a quick flip-book effect.

Before you customize: Un-zip the ZIP file you downloaded to reveal the After Effects project file. Open the project, and make sure your Effect Controls panel is available (in the Window menu, select "Effect Controls"). If Animation Presets are showing, hide them from view.

Step One - Insert Footage
Step 1 is dropping in your footage or content.

When looking at an open book, there is a left stack of pages ("unturned") and a right stack of pages ("turned"). You can have your flip book content on either side, or both. If you're unsure which side to display your footage on, open the presets in the Step 3 folder, and note which side the camera is focused on (the flip book presets mostly have the camera pointed at the turned page side). Drag your footage into the comp(s) in the Step 1 folder.

The default paper used in the flip book is plain white sketchpad paper. You can change the paper texture by dropping a different texture image from the Images folder into the Your Paper comp.

Step Two - Customize Pages
Step 2 is customizing how your footage will look on the pages of the flip book.

Open the Turned Pages comp or the Unturned Pages comp (whichever has your footgage). You will see that your footage has a cartoon effect, similar to a comic book. You can keep this effect as it is, customize it, or create your own look from scratch. However your footage appears in these comps is how it will appear in your final flipbook.

The Dynamic Paper Texture layer is a pre-comp which randomly rotates, moves, flips, and brightens your paper texture so that no two sheets of your flipbook will look the same. If desired, you can edit the intensity of the effect using the CONTROL LAYER inside the Dynamic Paper Texture comp.

Step Three - Choose Preset
Step 3 is choosing a preset and customizing the flip book inside. There are four flip book presets, with background and camera settings already in place. Different presets may use different variations of expressions and therefore work slightly differently. Choose the flip-book preset that is closest to the look that you want. For example, if you need an animation with separated pages falling into a stack, use the Flip Book Card Toss preset as your starting point.

The presets can be exported as they are, or you can customize them using the CONTROL LAYER, at the top in the layer order. Select the CONTROL LAYER, and inside the Effect Controls panel you'll see dozens of slider controls for customizing the look of the flipbook and the way the pages turn. The controls are divided into categories, separated by "title" slider controls.

The layers are color coded. Orange layers make up the layer that turns. The flip-book has a single page that turns on a loop. The yellow layers make up the unturned stack of pages. The green layers make up the turned stack of pages. You can add pages to the unturned or turned page stacks by duplicating the layers that have duplication instructions in their layer marker notes.

Below the green layers is the Toss Stack Page layer. This layer is hidden in most presets, and should only be unhidden when you need a page-toss effect (pages separating from the flip book). Page Toss must be turned on in the CONTROL LAYER, and the Toss Stack Page layer should be duplicated multiple times so that there is a copy of the layer for each page that is tossed in your animation.

At the bottom of the layer order is the background tabletop image. You can swap this image by following these steps: First, select the tabletop layer. Then select a new image in the Project Panel (open the Images folder, then open Tabletop Image Options). Hold down the Option (Alt) key and drag the new image onto the old layer to swap them.

The instructions below take you through each category of controls on the CONTROL LAYER, while also explaining how the animation works. You do not need to adjust the controls if you don't want to. The first two controls are the most significant.

CONTROL LAYER: Page-Turn Controls
These controls affect the actual page turning motion, affecting the Orange layers.

Page-Turn Duration: The number of frames it takes to complete one page turn motion. NOTE: Page turns are continuous, automatic, and programmed by the slider controls - there is no way to manually keyframe a page turn. You can make it so the pages completely stop turning by unchecking the Page-Turn On checkbox control.

Frames Between Turns: the duration of the page turn intervals (the number of frames between each page turn). This can be set to 0 if desired. Negative values will not work.

Page Angle Controls: These two controls affect the angles of both the turning pages and the page stacks. To adjust the angle of the page stacks only, see the controls in the Page Stack Controls sections.

Page-Turn On: This checkbox control doesn't stop the actual turning of the pages, it simply hides it by turning the opacity of the orange layers up or down. Keyframe this control to have your page-turns start and/or end at a certain time. There are two things to keep in mind when using this control. First, be sure to keyframe the Page-Turn On control at the start or end of a page turn, so a page doesn't appear during the middle of its turn. Also, you will need to Freeze Frame or Time Remap your footage accordingly (in the Step 1 folder), otherwise your footage will continue to play even though your pages aren't turning.

Posterize Time On: Make your footage play choppy (like a series of still images), or at a normal 30 frames per second.

CONTROL LAYER: Perspective Controls
These Edge Curve controls allow you to fake the look of a 3-dimensional bending page. Since different viewing angles require bends in different directions, these controls are here to give you the freedom of choosing any viewing angle, while maintaining a realistic 3D look. You can set different amounts of edge curve for the start, middle and end stages of the page-turn motion. If you're not sure what to bend, look at real pages of a book for inspiration. (To change the viewing angle of the book animation, adjust the Position parameter of the Camera layer.)

CONTROL LAYER: Corner Peel Controls
The Corner Peel uses After Effect's CC Page Turn effect to add a little extra warp and asymmetry to the page as it turns, making the paper look more fluid and realistic. The key is subtlety. You can increase the corner peel until you see the back of the page, but you will probably find that this looks less realistic when you view the flip book animation. Also, overuse of the effect will create problems with the animation.

Note that the page starts and ends with no corner peel. The corner peel starts when the page begins to turn. The corner peel reaches its maximum when it is half turned, then decreases again as the turn completes. To preview the corner peel as you customize, go to a frame where the page is a about 40% turned. Turn off the Motion Blur for the comp, then play with the slider controls. Two of the controls in this section are followed by Variation controls, which allow you to set the maximum amount that the values can fluctuate with each turn. Note that the CC Page Turn effect is a 2D effect applied to a 3D layer, and it can not change the actual shape or bend of the page in 3D space.

CONTROL LAYER: Page Toss Controls
These controls can be used if you would like to separate the pages from the flip book as they turn. For example, you could turn off the Edge Curve controls (to make the pages rigid), move the book way back on the Z-axis, out of view of the camera (using the Flipbook Z Position Offset control), and then have the pages tossed into view to simulate the look of cards being tossed onto a table. (This effect is used in the flip book preset comp, "Flip Book Card Toss".)

To use the Page Toss controls, you must first turn on the Page Toss effect by clicking the checkbox control. When you turn on Page Toss, all of the Turned Page Stack layers will automatically be given an Opacity of 0, since Page Toss uses different layers to create a new stack. This new stack is created using the Toss Stack Page 1 layer. To create your growing stack of pages, you must unhide and make duplicate copies of this layer - one copy for each page that you want stacked. The duplicates should appear directly above the original layer in the timeline, and they must stay there for everything to work.

You can use the controls to set the distance, random position, and random rotation of the pages as they land in their final resting place. By switching the 3D View Popup to "Right", you can see how the book and pages move. The flip book will move up slightly (amount determined by the Page Stack Spacing control) with each page that is tossed, so that each page will land above the previous page.

CONTROL LAYER: Light & Shadow Controls
For additional light controls or to edit the position of the 3D lights, you can edit the Light layers directly. To customize how 3D layers react to the lights, you can open a layer's Material Options by selecting the layer and quickly typing the "A" key twice. The Ambient setting in the Material Options is handy for adjusting the brightness of a single 3D layer.

CONTROL LAYER: Position & Camera Controls
The Position Offset and Rotation controls in this section affect only the flip-book - not the camera or the lights. It does this by changing the position and rotation of the CONTROL LAYER, which is actually a null layer to which all other layers are parented (except the Light and Camera layers). To change the viewing angle of your book while keeping the same lighting, you can edit the position of the camera directly on the Camera layer.

TIP: Typing the "C" button multiple times will scroll through the different camera movement tools. Then just click and drag inside your composition.

CONTROL LAYER: Page Stack Controls
These two sections of controls affect the Unturned Stack and the Turned Stack layers in the flip book. (If you don't see these pages in your composition panel, you may have to adjust your camera to see the book at an angle). Each page in the stacks has its own layer. You can duplicate these layers as many times as you need to create more pages in the stack. Their position and rotation offset will automatically be set when you duplicate them.

The unturned pages are yellow layers, and the turned pages are green layers. The controls affect all layers in a stack together using layer indexes - meaning that each layer is affected a little more than the layer above it.

CONTROL LAYER: Expression References
These controls are here for reference, and are linked to by many expressions in the comp. You can ignore them - don't edit or delete.

Troubleshooting
If a control isn't working correctly, or if something just doesn't look as you would expect, your first action should always be to check for expression errors. Expressions can sometimes encounter errors when something is moved, deleted, or changed. You might not even see an error message when it happens. To check for expression errors, select all the layers in the comp, right-click the layers, and choose Reveal Expression Errors. If any expressions appear with a yellow exclamation point next to them, turn them back on by clicking the equal sign icon next to the expression.

Multiple Error Popup Messages: You might be moving something or changing a slider control value, and an error message will pop up. After clicking "OK", another might pop up, and then another, etc... It's likely that an expression in the CONTROL LAYER didn't like a particular slider control value that you passed over, and all the expressions in the comp that link to that CONTROL LAYER value were also affected. If this happens, continue to click "OK" on the popups until they're done. Then, follow the step above to turn all the expressions back on. To prevent these types of errors, get in the habit of clicking a slider control value and entering in a number directly, rather than clicking and dragging the values to the left or right.

Right Camera View: When making position adjustments to pages, or if you just want to better understand and see what's happening when pages turn, switch the 3D View Popup to "Right", or sometimes "Front". This is also helpful to see if pages are intersecting, which can cause ugly glitches in your flip-book animation.

Striped Pattern on Pages: Since pages are so close to each other in 3D space, it's normal to see lines or a striped pattern on your pages in Half, Third, and Quarter resolution. Switch to full resolution, and the stripes should go away. If not, change the 3D view to Front or Right to see if pages are intersecting or occupying the same space. Use the controls to space the pages apart.

Other Glitches on 3D Layers: If sections of 3D layers are flickering (disappearing and reappearing) in your animation, try turning off depth of field on the Camera layer (double-click the Camera layer, and un-check "Enable Depth of Field").

Jump Cuts in Footage: If you notice that a frame changes on a flip book page before a new page has fully turned, try using a slightly different value for the Page-Turn Duration and/or the Frames Between Turns controls.