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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
So, now we are going to bring this to life by using a light and a camera. Before we do that, I just wanted to share with you what I did since the last movie here. Negative Z values actually bring objects closer to the camera, closer to you, closer to your view. And so what I did is I took these icons, and I gave them negative values, as you could see towards the top here, like -165 for Icon 5, and so on and so forth. And then there are kind of like key plain, like zero plain objects, and the path is kind of one of those ones I don't really want to move very much.
Same thing with the Bridges. So, I kind of want those to be at zero. So, if we go down to the path, it's about -7. So, it's a little bit closer to the viewer. We have just got a little bit of depth. That's okay. But then I put like the shadows underneath the trees and actually, these trees way, way, way back here. Right here, the faded background tree layer if I turn this off and on, those layers have a high positive value, which pushes them farther away from the camera. So, the shadows and these little curvy lines here, those things, again, are farther in the background.
So, we have things staggered in 3D space. If we look at the 4 View, we can see that the Right View, we have a lot of things staggered here. The Top View again, and this is where the audience is looking this way in the Top View. And so we have a lot of different layers here, a lot of different Z depth dimension objects, which is really good. That's what we want. So, I am going to take this back to 1 View, and now to see all the glory that we've created - actually first let's cramp our layers a little bit.
I am going to select one layer, hit Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all, and then hit Shift and the Tilde key, the little squiggle next to the 1 on the keyboard. Shift+Tilde to collapse all these layers to shrink them down so it's a little bit more manageable. And then we are going to right-click in some blank area of the Timeline panel, like right here, usually to the left of a layer's name, to get this pop-up dialog box when you right-click. And I am going to choose New > Camera. I am just going to go ahead and set the default settings. If you're familiar with camera work, you will notice a lot of the similar settings here, such as your Angle of View, your Zoom.
There's even like different Lenses. And what you can try to do is try to match up, if you are going to do some compositing, you try to shoot up your virtual camera here in After Effects with the actual lens that you used in the field. Now, that how it works in theory. There is actually a little bit more in terms of variables to it. So, it doesn't always work like that. But as a general rule, that's how things go. Regardless, I am just going to leave all settings as is and click OK. And by default, you won't notice too much because the default lens, the 50 mm lens, and the 50 mm lens is very similar to the way After Effects naturally renders things.
So, to really see the depth that we have in our scene, we are going to use this tool. This is the Unified Camera tool, which is pretty cool. If you click and drag left and right, you'll orbit around the scene with your camera. And actually, let me zoom in here so you could see this a little bit more closely. Click and drag, you zoom around. And so we are getting a three- dimensional view of our scene. And you could see the faded background tree in the background here and the shadows moving more in one direction, and then the icons in the front, and even the houses moving in a different direction.
You can move up, and you can move down. So, by staggering these flat layers in three dimensions, we have created a real three-dimensional scene. Of course, if we were to keep orbiting the camera, then the joke would be up, because we would be able to totally see what's going on. And as we turn to the side, you could see, again, these are just a series of flat layers. But assuming you don't do that, this illusion is a very cool look. Now, with the Unified Camera tool, if you have a three-button mouse, you can hold down the middle mouse button to pan around.
And you could hold the right mouse button down to zoom in and zoom out. So, you have all three of these functions available to you in one Unified Camera tool. Now, if you've done any work on a film set, or if you have worked in photography at all, then you know that lighting makes all the difference and whether something looks good or whether something doesn't. So, I'm going to go and right-click in the same way we created a new camera, and I am going to create a New > Light.
And I am just going to keep this is a spotlight because they have the most dramatic effects. So, I am going to go ahead and click OK. And by default, the light is zoomed in in such a way that we can't see the light really. Most of our objects are in darkness. Actually, let me show you what this light looks like here. I am going to go to the Top View. And really, what this Light is, it's a light source. And then we have a little point that shows us the direction of the light. So, we could actually move the light and the light source at the same time, or we could move just where it's being pointed and leave the light actually where it is.
So, I am going to take this back to the Active Camera View. And then I'm going to click the light source on the Z space and click and drag and pull this back, so we could see more of our objects. Now, the way I typically like to do things, unless I have a specific purpose not to do this, but one of the things I like to do is to leave a little bit of the cone from the light in there so we have this falloff, and that adds so much realism to what's going on. Now if, for example, we wanted to focus on bar number three, then from a design point of view, this would not be that good.
So, we might want to grab the angle here and put more light on number three. But all things considered, if we can't do that, have a little bit of falloff, again, it adds so much more realism to what's going on. So, then we could grab our camera and the Unified Camera tool and click and drag around, and we have a very realistic 3D scene. It almost looks as if we cut these things out on paper and really filmed them. It's really a great look.
In the next movie, we are going to look at how to add shadows to this.
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