There are many surfaces that don't fully reflect the items above it. For example, hardwood floors reflect, but only to a point. The further away from the floor an object is, the less it reflects. You can simulate such an effect with the Falloff parameters in Reflector. Set the Falloff Starting Point and Distance, then select the Falloff checkbox. Update your scene to see the effect.
There will be occasions where you don't want every layer to show up in your reflective surface. Sometimes it's for a desired effect (like the Vampire image below). Other times it's because a layer just doesn't look right in the reflected area. The Hide 2D Layers parameter takes care of many distracting layers, but there may be 3D layers that need hiding has well.
If you hide the parent of a bunch of layers, all of the children will be hidden as well.
TIPS & TRICKS
Here are a few details that could help you understand how Reflector works.
- The Reflector Comp - When you press the Update button, Reflector creates a duplicate of your Comp, modifies the duplicate, and adds it as the last layer in your Comp (hidden). Reflector uses (and requires) this Comp in order to calculate the reflection image. If the Reflector Comp is missing, you'll see a checkerboard. Click the Update button to regenerate the Reflector Comp.
- Update - Whenever your scene changes (you move a 3D layer, you add a light, you change the camera, etc.), you'll need to click the Update button again. Otherwise, the reflection may not match your scene. In other words, keep your Reflector Comp in sync with your main Comp by pressing the Update button. It's a good idea to do this before rendering your final scene.
- Reflecting Zaxwerks 3D - When you first apply Reflector, the Hide 2D Layers option is checked, so your Zaxwerks layers (Invigorator, ProAnimator, 3D Flag, 3D Layer/Grid Warp) may get hidden initially. Uncheck the Hide 2D Layers option and click the Update button to see the Zaxwerks layers reflected.
- Dense Floors - If the reflection doesn't look sharp, or it has jaggies, you may want to create a denser floor. For example, if you floor is 500x500 pixels at a scale of 100%, you can make it more dense by changing it to 2000x2000 with a scale of 25%. This keeps the floor the same size, but increases the number of pixels Reflector has to work with.
While Reflector works with most of your existing scenes, there are a few caveats.
- In order to calculate reflections, we create a duplicate Comp and move the camera. We do our best to keep the integrity of the scene, but this operation may cause the reflections to not look right if the camera is animated in a non-standard way. Note that keyframed cameras and cameras animated with expressions should work.
- Only After Effects 3D planes can be reflective. Make sure you apply Reflector to 3D planes (images, movies, solids, etc.).
- Most effects applied to your layers will show up in reflections, but some may not, or may not look right.
- Adjustment layers may or may not look correct.
- Due to how reflections are calculated, some reflections may not look perfectly lined up. Use the Adjust X/Y parameters to correct any alignment issues.
- Since we move the camera in the duplicated Comp, some undesired objects may show up in or block the reflection. Use Vampires to hide unnecessary or unwanted layers.
- You cannot have reflections of reflections, but you can have multiple reflected surfaces in a single Comp.
Limitations of Reflector with other Zaxwerks 3D products
This section refers to Zaxwerks 3D plug-ins, including:
- Invigorator PRO and Classic
- 3D Flag
- 3D Warps
Zaxwerks 3D plug-ins are usually applied to 2D AE planes. If you check the "Use Comp Camera" checkbox, the 3D image will integrate into your 3D AE scene. Therefore, you can use Zaxwerks 3D products with Reflector.
However, be aware that since you apply the effects to 2D layers, you'll need to uncheck the Hide 2D Layers parameter. Use Vampires to hide other 2D layers.
Also, note that Falloff doesn't work with Zaxwerks 3D products. This is due to how we calculate Falloff.