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Adjusting depth of field

From: After Effects CS6 Essential Training

Video: Adjusting depth of field

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.

Adjusting depth of field

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS6 Essential Training
After Effects CS6 Essential Training

78 video lessons · 55689 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 15s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 21s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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