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Get up to speed quickly with the new features in After Effects CS6. Join veteran After Effects user Chris Meyer as he explores the key enhancements to this industry standard visual effects and motion graphics software. Chris shares creative ideas and important production advice while covering the strengths of features such as memory optimization with the new global performance cache, 3D motion tracking with the 3D Camera Tracker, and the new 3D rendering engine for ray-traced 3D rendering.
If you have access to the Exercise Files that came with this course, press Command+I or Ctrl+I to Import inside the AE CS6 sources folder, the Adobe Illustrator file, flower_layers and go ahead and import that as Footage, Merged Layers. If you don't have the Exercise Files, just open up any Illustrator file that has vector paths in it. An additional feature they added to After Effects CS6 to go along with all this lovely ray-tracing and extruding capability is the ability to convert vector-based layers such as Illustrator artwork into shape layers, and once they are shape layers you can extrude them.
I am going to take that source, drag it down to the Make a New Comp icon. I can't see anything because it's black artwork against a black comp background. I will go to Composition Settings and change that Background to something a little bit more visible such as that. Select your vector-based artwork and go to Layer > Create Shapes from Vector Layer. Once you do so, it will keep your Vector Layer but turn off its video switch and create this brand new Shape Layer that includes in its contents a Shape Group for every path that it finds.
This conversion is not perfect. For example, gradients are not supported. The layer will be turned into a solid color. Also compound paths that require certain operators to merge or intersect paths may or may not come in correctly, but this is a great sight better than not being able to do this at all or having to manually copy and paste paths from Illustrator into blank shape layers in After Effects. Once you have this shape layer, you can turn on the 3D Layer switch. Make sure you are in the Ray-traced 3D Renderer.
Open up the Geometry Options and then start to extrude it. And let's go ahead and go quickly to a Custom View and you can see that my object now has depth and I can also Bevel it etcetera. It is a shape layer so you can still add shape operators such as the ability to Twist the whole shape. I'll twirl that open and increase the Twist Angle a little bit and you will see that my entire geometry is being twisted now. I'll turn off the Mask Shapes so you can see just the result.
Change the Fill to something a bit more attractive, such as maybe something in the blue range and quickly add the Layer > New > Light which you pretty much need to do to see what's going on with extrusion. There we go, that's a little bit nicer, without twist, with twist. This new Convert Shapes from Vector Layer is a companion to the ability to bring in a Photoshop layer, again I am going into the AE C6 sources folder that we gave you, bring in RightWrongPoll, then bring this one in as a Composition-Retain Layer Sizes.
Open up that composition, choose a Photoshop text layer and convert it into After Effects' text, and again, once it's After Effects' text you can animate it, extrude it, bevel it etcetera. If you happen to like some of these shape operators that were available to you, such as Twist, Wiggle Paths etcetera, also remember that you can take any text layer and convert text into shapes. So there are a lot of nice little tools now to get things from the format they originally were into a format you need to be able to go ahead, making 3D layers and then ray-trace and extrude them.
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