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Shatter 3.2 User Guide

Shatter 3.2 is a “break-out” effect simulating breaking glass. The optical effect is created by a specially crafted font with exceptional precision and using 3D Text to take advantage of very realistic lighting effects. It will be well worth the effort to get to know this Final Cut Pro visual effect in order to get the most out of it.

Shatter 3.2 requires the installation of a provided font (ZZSC Shatter Glass-Regular.ttf). User Font Book to install into your User collection, or create a custom collection for the font. You must restart FCPX before it will become available.

By itself, Shatter does nothing. It requires interaction. It can be used as a still effect, or it can be animated.

Looking at the parameters, there are five groups:

Shatter Generator by sight-creations —

The top portion is the drop zone, transform parameters and a Thickness parameter. The shatter effect utilizes “real 3D” and requires installation of a specific font (supplied with the effect and requires installation before using in Final Cut.)

The next group are the Travel Parameters. These are the primary parameters for animating in Final Cut.  The next group are the Animation Options which can be used to set up the ranges of the “travel” in 3D space. The next group allows you to randomize how the animation occurs. The last group allow you to customize the look of the drop zone media making it appear either solid or transparent. The real 3D features of this effect also provide for light reflections as well as an environment reflection.

In the beginning, the most important parameters are the Travel Parameters. They determine the movement of pieces in straight line Z, rotation amount, and gravitational pull. The Shatter effect has two built in methods of fading. The gravitational motion fade is automatic and cannot be overridden (except by increasing the Gravitational  Distance parameters to a larger amount which delays where the onset of decreasing opacity comes into play.) There is an optional Z Distance End Opacity that is tied to the Z Distance Travel %. It does exactly what it looks like: animates the opacity of shard pieces over the distance traveled. At 100% travel, the pieces will have the opacity set by this parameter.

With Shatter installed and available in Final Cut, add it to the storyline either in the storyline by itself or over another clip. The default look is a custom Drop Zone image that comes with the effect. Leave it for now.

The first thing to do is move the Z Travel Dist. % parameter. This parameter moves the shatter pieces from 0 (default) to Maximum Z distance by percent (max Z can also be a negative value — the pieces will move away from the viewer instead of toward). Move the slider slightly and observe the behavior. Reset the slider and do the same with Rotation Amount. Like it? Now move the Gravitational Travel slider slowly.  These will be the three main parameters you will most likely animate, although you could choose to animation only one for a particular effect.  The Z Travel Group size determines how many shard pieces move “together” at roughly the same time. The default is 250 to get them all moving more or less immediately. Setting this to 0 will make a piece “pop off” and travel immediately to its end position. A setting of one will look more natural as one piece appears to move through its travel space at a time, and so on.

Keyframing in Final Cut is quite easy. I’ll leave that information to other sources if you need help.

There are randomization controls so that you can change up which pieces behave which way at any given time. The Randomize controls sport a “yin/yang” set of arrows. Simply click on that small icon to change the parameter value. The Variance controls determine how much random difference is employed. (The Gravitational Variance does not have this control – just a random value.) The Z Minimum Variance has a value range from -100% to 100%. Using the slider will stop at 0 on the minimum range, but you can click and drag down on the number to take it down to -100. Rotation Variance stops at zero using the slider or click/drag.

The final section, Glass Properties, will probably be the most difficult to use (and to explain!) The default values should give a good approximation of what the original clip should look like outside the Shatter effect with the exception of a slight reflection of the “environment” on the image. All of these parameters can be keyframed to control how they behave over time (not that anyone is likely to, but it could help out if you care to learn about them.)

Glass Properties

Reflective Light. A bit of a misnomer. It is a compound “effect”. Dial down the disclosure triangle to reveal Lights and Environment.  If you dial down Environment to zero, you can eliminate its reflected effect on your image completely. The Lights control can be used to control shadows that you may want to appear in your animations or displacements. These parameters are capable of very large number values if you click and drag directly on the numbers.

Surface Shininess determines a more “glass-like” reflection as it approaches 100%.

Surface Blend is the amount of the image blended into the surface reflected light. At 0% (no blend) you will barely perceive much of your image.

Environmental Intensity is the amount of the Environment (allowed by Reflective Light > Environment) that is “infused” into the image.

Env. Contrast: increasing this parameter to large values will “clarify” the “reflected” environment with the image. Reducing this value towards 0 will blur the environment effect in your image.

Saturation is the amount of color value infused with the reflected environment.

Material Opacity is the opacity of the image in the shard character. Dialing this value down is how to a achieve a more transparent glass-like look.

Refl. Img Brightness is the best way to compensate for the “fade” induced by Material Opacities less than 100%.

The accuracy of the descriptions of “Glass Properties” is not 100%. The explanation of each parameter is beyond the scope of this document. The explanation of “behavior” is more a less a guide for your use of the parameters. Feel free to “play with” their interactions. You can always reset all the parameters to their default values by clicking the reset button on the far right edge of the parameter’s cell that becomes visible as you mouse over the parameter.


Installation Instructions. (Shatter 3.2 is a Generator.)

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A good place to see all of my effects as well as several tutorials and other demonstrations in use is on my YouTube channel.