Building the floor
Video: Building the floorNext, let's build the floor in this 3D world we are about to create. Trish showed you how to make the two elements that will make up our floor: the Grid Floor layer, as well as the Radar circle layer. I am going to drag in Radar first. You see it's quite a big layer, and that can make it a little bit tricky to figure out how to center it in the composition. If you are having difficulty centering a layer in the comp, just drag it down to the Timeline panel and it will automatically be centered. By default, new layers you add to comps start at Time 0. I want this Radar pre-comp to be part of a floor in the 3D world, so I need to enable the 3D layer switch for the Radar layer.
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This course pulls together the skills you've been learning in the previous After Effects Apprentice installments to create a real-world video promo. Trish leads you through building the artwork and components used in the final piece, and then Chris shows how to assemble these precompositions into a 3D world, timed to music. Along the way, Trish and Chris also share their thoughts as they design a video project, including unifying the overall look and handling change requests from clients.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com library.
- Building a 3D world
- Working with layered Illustrator files
- Synchronizing to music
- Using text animation presets
- Rendering strategies
- Working with widescreen video, including 4:3 center cut and safe area considerations
Building the floor
Next, let's build the floor in this 3D world we are about to create. Trish showed you how to make the two elements that will make up our floor: the Grid Floor layer, as well as the Radar circle layer. I am going to drag in Radar first. You see it's quite a big layer, and that can make it a little bit tricky to figure out how to center it in the composition. If you are having difficulty centering a layer in the comp, just drag it down to the Timeline panel and it will automatically be centered. By default, new layers you add to comps start at Time 0. I want this Radar pre-comp to be part of a floor in the 3D world, so I need to enable the 3D layer switch for the Radar layer.
Right now the radar is facing me straight on as if it was a wall. I need to make it a floor. So I am going twirl open its transformations and play around with its Orientation, or Rotation, to get it where I want it to be. Now normally I use the Orientation parameter to pose the layer in the X, Y, and Z rotation parameters to animate the layer. We are not actually going to be animating our floor; we are going to leave it in place. So you are safe using either Orientation or Rotation to put it in this proper place. Now remember with 3D layers, R, G, B equals X, Y, Z.
So to lay this floor flat, I need to rotate it along its Red or X axis. I'll start to scrub the X parameter and lay the floor down perfectly flat. The easiest way to do that is jut to type in 90 degrees, plus or minus 90 both work fine. Since this is just a 2D composition, when you look at it edge on, it will disappear because it has no thickness, but that's okay. We want our floor to be at the bottom of the composition. To do that, you can either grab one of its arrows and drag it down, or frankly, I just go ahead and scrub position values.
Y is the height in a composition. I'll start scrubbing this until I get the floor roughly where I want it to be, right around 400 works nicely. It does not need to be a precise number, but I like to use nice round numbers so I can remember them in case I need to use those values for other layers. As I scrub the current time indicator along my composition, I see that a lot of my radar is being cropped off by the edges of my new comp. That's because it's a bit too close to me.
It's okay to push it back further in space. Well, to do that, I can just scrub its Z parameter to push it further away. Now I can see these layer outlines as I start to position it. I think somewhere around here should work well. Again, I'll scrub the current time indicator and now I see that the radar is mostly visible for my entire composition. I'll press 0 in the numeric keypad to do a quick RAM preview, it's queuing up. (video playing) Okay, that's good.
Since I might want to reuse this position for other layers I want to place on the floor, I am going to select and copy just to be safe. Otherwise, I control the layer to save myself some room inside my Timeline panel. Now that the Radar layer is in place, we can add the Grid Floor on top of it. I'll select my Grid Floor layer. And this time I am going to use the keyboard shortcut, Command+Forward slash on Mac, or Ctrl+Forward slash on windows. That, too, will add at center to the composition, starting at the beginning of the comp. Again, it starts off as a 2D layer facing us, I'll enable its 3D layer switch, turn it on there, twirl open its Transform properties, rotate either its X Rotation or X Orientation to get its lay down flat. Enter -90, just like we had for our radar floor. And now I need to lower down into the same position as the radar layer.
Don't make the beginner mistake of just saying, "Well, I'll eyeball it," because you might get close but you might be off. That's kind of hard to see what's going on here. The far better thing to do is either to remember what value you entered for the position for this radar layer, or even better: you may remembered I copied the position-- well, I'll just select this layer and paste it and now you have exactly the same position value, both in Y-- the height--and in Z, how far it's pushed back in space. Now this black grid is a bit hard to see right now against its black composition background.
If you are having difficulty visualizing it, toggle on the Transparency Grid, and now you get a better idea of what's going on. I see that my grid source is maybe a little bit close; I might want it to tail off a bit further into space. No problem, I'll just scrub it a little bit further back in the composition, maybe somewhere around, say, 400 in the Z dimension. Now since the Grid Floor and the Radar layer are supposed to stay together, if I wanted to, I cold even parent, say, the Radar to the Grid Floor. In that way, whenever I move the Grid Floor, the Radar layer will come with it.
I am going to turn off my Transparency Grid for now. And black grid does disappear, but that's not a problem.
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