So far, our scrolling credit rolls have ended pretty abruptly. In this part of the credits tutorial series, we will cover the process of fading the credits to black using Blender scene animation.
This article will assume that you are familiar with the previous 3 parts of this tutorial series, and if you have not already created the credits roll, the Blender project, and the credits and backdrop planes, and you want to follow along, now’s a good time to catch up. For reference, the articles are:
- Creating the Credits Roll
- “Filming” the Credits in Blender
- Rendering the Credits over a Backdrop Clip
Once you’ve looked these over and become familiar with the concepts and controls, we can continue with this project.
To begin, we need to make sure we’re working on the project we finished on the last part, so we’ll load the backdrop-credits roll Blender project. As a side note, I have changed the render framerate to 24, which is the standard for “big screen” films.
In Blender, anything that appears in the final render can be animated. This includes the properties of objects (including things like lights and cameras), such as location, rotation, scale, color, shading, and (which we will use) light emission. You can also edit the properties of the world itself, including horizon color, indirect lighting, mist, and stars.
Of course, there are limits; you can animate anything in the scene, but you cannot animate the framework for rendering; for example, you cannot use the animation controls to change the framerate or resolution. You also can’t animate the framework for modeling; you cannot animate the 3D cursor or the editing mode, and you can’t add objects via animation (although you can move objects between layers to make it appear as if they were being added). But other than those two frameworks, the sky is the limit.
Whenever you animate anything in Blender, you choose a start point for the animation and an end point for the animation. These points where animation starts and stops are called keyframes. Keyframes are important, as you need to make sure you set keyframes for each control you intend to animate at the moment the animation begins and ends.
In order to set a keyframe, you need to go to the first frame of the animation, hover over the control you intend to animate, and press the “i” key. This will set the current frame as a keyframe for this control, and the control will turn yellow. Once you go to a different frame, the control will turn green, indicating that the control has keyframes somewhere on the timeline.
In the above example, the left example is a control before any keyframes were created. The center is a control with a keyframe set in the current frame. And the example on the right is a control with keyframes in the timeline, but not on the current frame.
Animating Emit Values
For this example, we will animate the “Emit” value of the backdrop’s material and the credit roll’s texture, which will darken them to black, since the emit values were all that was keeping them lit. In fact, why don’t we also animate the backdrop to black first while the text is visible, and then darken the text afterwards? A lot of credit rolls that start with a clip running behind them will usually phase out the background somewhere in the middle of the credits, leaving the rest to scroll on a black backdrop.
Yeah, that’s what we’ll do. At frame 345, the backdrop will fade to black over 48 frames, which will mean the backdrop will be black 2 seconds later at 393, and then another fade will begin at 642, ending at 690. I chose 2 seconds, because this seems to give the best result for a fade; not too fast, not too slow.
Now, we will start with the backdrop. We’ll make sure it’s selected by right-clicking on the backdrop plane, and then go to the material properties tab. At this point, “Emit” is currently set to 1.00.
Next, we make sure that the current frame is set to 345, which is exactly halfway through the 690-frame animation.
Now, we will hover the mouse over the “Emit” value in the material properties (under “Shading”), and press “i” (for “insert keyframe”). The “Emit” box will turn yellow.
At this point, we now have the start of the fade.
Since the video is currently set to 24 frames per second, we will move the current frame forward by 48 frames (2 seconds), ending up in frame 393.
You probably noticed that the emit control in the “Shading” has now become green. This is because the shading control is considered animated. No matter where the playback point is on the timeline, the control will remain green, except for 345, where it will be yellow.
Now that we’re on the ending frame, we will set the emit value to zero, meaning that the material will no longer glow, making the whole backdrop completely black (provided that it has no diffuse/specular and/or no other lights are present).
Finally, we will set this frame as a keyframe, marking this as the end of the animation. Once again, we do so by hovering the mouse over the control and pressing the “i” key on the keyboard.
Now, Blender will fill in all the values between the start and end points of the animation, causing a gradual fade-to-black effect of the backdrop.
You might have noticed, if you rendered the project at this point, that the fade itself seems to start up slowly, and end slowly, with most of the fade happening at the middle. Just like movement, Blender curves the animation of controls in the same way, essentially producing inertia.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we will keep the opening inertia, but eliminate the closing inertia, which means the fade will start slow, and then speed up right to the end.
In the second part of this series, we covered the use and manipulation of animation in the “Animation” screen layout, so let’s go there now. In there, we will have the F-Curve editor.
We will manipulate the handles so that there is no curve for the endpoint, just the beginning keyframe. Remember to hold down CTRL, so that when right-dragging the handle, it will remain on that level.
Once done, the curve should look like this:
We are now ready to continue to the credit roll plane.
For the credit roll, the emit value is not in the material, but in the texture, under “Influence.”
As before, we will go to the initial keyframe position (690-48=642), hover our mouse over this “Emit” value, and press “i”, making sure it’s the value we set the keyframe to, and not the checkbox (which can also be automated, but only in an on/off way).
Once this is set, we go to the last frame (690), change the Emit value to 0, and then keyframe it using “i”. Unlike the material emit, this value can actually go into the negative numbers (to cancel out the emission of lit materials), so check to make sure the value is zero before keyframing.
As before, we will adjust the F-curves to keep the starting inertia, but removing the ending inertia.
Render the Animation
Now that we’re done, we will render the animation. If everything was done right, then the backdrop will fade to black halfway through the video, and then the text will fade for the final two seconds of the video, while the text is stationary.
In this part of the credit scrolling series, we covered the process of fading a backdrop and the text scroll to black independent of one another. This can be useful in longer credit rolls where there is not enough stock footage to sustain the backdrop for the entire length of the credits at a reasonable scroll speed, which is often the case in larger films with large crews.
In a larger sense, you should now start to see the flexibility afforded to video editing in Blender; the credit roll itself is just an example used to demonstrate different methods of editing video. Anything that’s possible with a dedicated NLE is possible with Blender, and in some cases, the impossible is made possible. More tutorials are coming to show basic and advanced video editing procedure using Blender, both within and outside this tutorial series.
The next tutorial will be adding music to the project, animating the music using Ardour through Blender’s integration with the Jack Audio Connection Kit, and then bringing the music into Blender to render the final video. Until then, enjoy!