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Adding depth of field to your scene will do a lot to change an okay scene to a wow, that's a really cool scene! In order to add depth of field, you need to change your camera settings. But before you start going into your camera settings, you probably want to make sure that you have a true 3D scene. So let's look at our project right here. As you can see, we have a camera, we have multiple lights, we have multiple layers, and yes, of course, they all are 3D. So the recipe is set, now it's time to cook.
So double-click the Camera and with Camera Settings we have a Two-Node Camera which is great. We have the 50 millimeter Preset which is the length of the lens. To enable depth of field, you want to come down here to the center of the Camera Settings window and select Enable Depth of Field. Let's look at the F-Stop. Let's change it from 5.6 to 2.8. This is going to make the depth of field more shallow, so less of the image is going to be in focus. Now click OK.
You may not see depth of field right away, so let's investigate. If you look in the lower right corner of your comp viewer, click on the 1 View pulldown and change it to 2 Views. In here, click on the left side and make sure that your view is set to Top. So if we zoom in just a little bit, and I'm going to press the Spacebar and left-click to re-center my scene. Okay, see these shadows? That's letting me know that these two red lines correspond to these two words.
Now since these words don't have any depth, that's why I'm only getting this line. This triangular shape is creating the camera's view. So when we select the camera, let's press AA to open up the Camera Options. With the Camera Options selected, notice we have a Focus Distance and Aperture represented in pixels, and then we have a Blur Level. With Depth of Field On, the Focus Distance is set at the same depth as the zoom.
If we click and drag to the left, we're moving our Focus Distance. See how the line in the top view is moving back? That's letting us see where the Focus Distance is set. So let's just click and drag and set that right over our title. As we look back in our Active Camera view, you can see that we're still not seeing very much blur in our depth of field. So to accentuate that, I'm going to offset the camera. A quick way to offset the camera view is to press C on your keyboard which will grab your camera controls.
Now hover your camera over to Active Camera side of the viewer. If you hold down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC and click and drag, you'll automatically start to orbit around the scene. Now when I let go, it'll take a second but the scene will redraw, and the camera has now changed its angle of view to the scene. We were holding Alt or Option, so we as moved the camera, it moved around the center point of the two nodes.
Okay, to heighten the blur, we literally just need to increase the Blur Level. So let's change it from 100% up to about 285% and press Return. Now it may take a second to refresh in the scene, but once it refreshes, notice this windmill is blurry, a certain part of our title is in focus and then other parts are out of focus. Notice how our depth of field is going right across our title right here. Just so I don't accidentally move in the scene, I'm going to grab my Selection tool and change my 2 Views in my comp viewer from 2 Views to 1 View.
If we resize our comp viewer, you can definitely see the depth of field that we've created within our scene. I'm going to show you one more tip that should definitely help you move depth of field around your scenes. You can tie it to an object and then animate that object. So to do that, we need to start by adding an object to our scene. So let's go up to the Layer menu and choose New > Null Object. With our Null Object in the scene, we can enable 3D for that object.
In order to hide the depth of field to this object, let's move our camera up in the layer hierarchy so it's just below Layer 1. Now we can select the Null 1 and hold down Shift and select the Camera, and go up to Layer down to Camera > Link Focus Distance to Layer. Choose Link, that way if you start to animate the Null Object, the focus will move with that object. So go ahead and choose that and notice it'll take a second to refresh because it's actually moving the depth of field.
Now if we deselect both layers by clicking off of them and then reselect 1 and press P, we can scrub in the Position value to move our depth of field not on the Y axis, but on X and Z, so it's back out of the scene. When the scene refreshes, you can tell that we've now linked the depth of field to the position of the Null Object. Now there's one more thing I'm going to point out before we head out. Let's make the timeline a little larger and if you look at the Camera Options under the Focus Distance, the pink numbers let me know that I've actually applied a behavior tying the Focus Distance to this Null Object.
But also, there are a host of other options that we can enable within our camera if we want to add a sense of realism to the camera. Now the one thing I like to play with is the Iris Shape, and if you click on that pulldown, you can change the Iris Shape and that will definitely make a difference in the realism of your scene. So as you can see, adding depth of field to your project is another way to add realism and perspective to your scenes.
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