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After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
Illustration by John Hersey
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Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later


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After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later

In this movie we're going to explore a feature known as Camera Depth of Field Blur. It's a feature where layers in 3D Space can be selectively sharp or blurred out of focus, depending on their distance from the 3D camera. Now this feature has existed in After Effects since the very day it got 3D Space. However, it used to take forever to render, and didn't look all that good. As of After Effects CS5.5, this feature has been significantly upgraded. So I'm going to demonstrate it using 5.5, but I will mention where things differ in earlier versions.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      2m 47s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 15m 12s
    1. Comparing 2D and 3D
      5m 30s
    2. Rotation in 3D
      4m 47s
    3. Keyframing in 3D
      4m 55s
  3. 15m 9s
    1. Multi-planing workaround in 2D
      3m 21s
    2. Using 3D views
      6m 45s
    3. Natural multi-planing in 3D
      5m 3s
  4. 13m 9s
    1. Keyframing a fly-in
      5m 24s
    2. Editing 3D motion paths
      5m 43s
    3. Auto-orienting a layer along its path
      2m 2s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Adding a camera to a composition
      9m 0s
    2. Comparing camera presets
      2m 48s
    3. Using the camera tools with the active camera
      4m 48s
    4. Using the camera tools in the alternate views
      4m 50s
    5. 3D view options
      1m 58s
    6. Animating a 3D camera
      6m 20s
    7. Creating an orbit camera rig
      5m 42s
    8. Extending your camera rig
      4m 31s
    9. Auto-orientation with 3D cameras
      7m 33s
    10. Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later
      5m 47s
    11. Controlling the focal plane in CS5.5 and later
      5m 12s
    12. Iris properties in CS5.5 and later
      6m 16s
  6. 29m 15s
    1. Creating a 3D light
      6m 35s
    2. Working with Point lights
      3m 20s
    3. Working with Spot lights
      3m 48s
    4. Creating shadows
      10m 13s
    5. The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later
      5m 19s
  7. 48m 6s
    1. Enabling ray-traced 3D in CS6
      3m 26s
    2. Extrusions in CS6
      3m 39s
    3. Bevels in CS6
      5m 39s
    4. Bending layers in CS6
      5m 35s
    5. Transparency in CS6
      4m 20s
    6. Refraction in CS6
      4m 6s
    7. Targeting Surfaces in CS6
      3m 23s
    8. Reflections in CS6
      7m 35s
    9. Environment layers in CS6
      5m 40s
    10. Quality vs. speed in CS6
      4m 43s
  8. 11m 33s
    1. Quizzler challenge for CS6
      1m 42s
    2. Quizzler solution for CS6
      9m 51s
  9. 41m 6s
    1. Vanishing Point Exchange in Photoshop Extended
      9m 18s
    2. Vanishing Point Exchange in After Effects
      4m 38s
    3. Importing a 3D model into Photoshop Extended in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 7s
    4. Creating 3D objects using Repoussé in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 46s
    5. Live Photoshop 3D inside After Effects in CS5.5 and earlier
      8m 17s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Introduction to dimensional stills
      3m 41s
    2. Cutting up the source image
      2m 25s
    3. Repairing the layers in Photoshop
      8m 26s
    4. Animating the resulting layers in After Effects
      6m 26s
  11. 25m 27s
    1. Rotation vs. orientation
      3m 15s
    2. Understanding the axis modes
      4m 4s
    3. Scaling issues in 3D
      4m 57s
    4. OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier
      6m 23s
    5. Fast previews in CS6 and later
      6m 48s

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After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
4h 49m Intermediate Oct 19, 2011 Updated Dec 06, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This installment of the After Effects Apprentice series introduces 3D space in Adobe After Effects. Authors Chris and Trish Meyer highlight key design considerations for working in 3D and provide step-by-step instructions for enhancing a scene with 3D lights and cameras. The course explores integration between Photoshop and After Effects, including modeling 3D objects with Repoussé extrusions and creating dimensional still images, and offers tips on using the different Axis Modes and maintaining maximum quality in 3D. There's also a chapter dedicated to the ray-traced 3D renderer, introduced in After Effects CS6, which allows you to build 3D layers into your composites, with realistic motion blur, depth of field, and reflections.

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.

Topics include:
  • Keyframing motion paths in 3D
  • Managing multiple 3D views
  • Auto-orienting cameras along a path
  • Creating shadows
  • Understanding Vanishing Point Exchange
  • Importing a 3D model into Photoshop Extended
  • Scaling in 3D
  • OpenGL acceleration
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later

In this movie we're going to explore a feature known as Camera Depth of Field Blur. It's a feature where layers in 3D Space can be selectively sharp or blurred out of focus, depending on their distance from the 3D camera. Now this feature has existed in After Effects since the very day it got 3D Space. However, it used to take forever to render, and didn't look all that good. As of After Effects CS5.5, this feature has been significantly upgraded. So I'm going to demonstrate it using 5.5, but I will mention where things differ in earlier versions.

If you have access to the Exercise Files, open up the Comp 05b-Depth of Field*starter. Ideally, you want to be working in two views, horizontal or vertical. If you have a large display, try to rearrange the frame that your comp panels are in until you can view your comps at 100% magnification. Now in my case, I don't have a big enough screen. So I'm going to take advantage of a preference hidden away that will improve my display.

You will notice that when I have to shrink down my Comp panels to some unusual number like 72.5%, that the outlines of many my layers look a bit on the crunchy or aliased side. We want to see these at full fidelity when working with Camera Depth of Field Blur. So either force to these views to be 100% or go on to Preferences > Previews and change Viewer Quality from Faster to More Accurate.

This will take a little bit more time to calculate, but it will give you a much cleaner display in your comp panels when you're at numbers other than 100%. If you have a slow computer a compromise is More Accurate Except RAM Preview, so your previews calculate faster. But I have a reasonably fast machine, so I'm going to choose More Accurate. Watch what happens over here in the Comp panel as soon as I click OK. Things are rendered more smoothly now and are nicely anti-aliased. In this composition I have a two node camera. We can see the back of the camera and its point of interest, moving through an arrangement of layers. I'm going to move to this comp marker at around 1:06 in the composition.

Double-click the Camera layer to see its camera settings. And here you'll get a more pictorial view of how Film Size, Angle of View, and Depth of Field interact. If you're trying to simulate the way a real camera works, change the Units popup to millimeters, as this is how most film, camera sensors, etc. are measured. After Effects defaults to a film size of 36 millimeters. To see the effects of Depth of Field Blur enable Depth of Field in this dialog.

I'm going to disable Lock to Zoom for now. This will allow me to freely edit the Focus Distance. Initially for this camera setting I have a Zoom, or lens length, of 173 millimeters, give or take. Down here you have some settings that you may recognize from real cameras, for example, F-Stop. I'm going to set this to a smaller number such as four, which produces a relatively shallow depth of field. The Blur Level is basically how much the Depth of Field effects are magnified or reduced.

100% simulates a real camera. Later on I'm going to bump this up just to exaggerate the Depth of Field blur effects. When you're done, click OK. In my Active Camera view, you'll notice already that some layers are getting a little bit blurred while others are still sharp. But to get a really good idea which layers are going to be in focus or out of focus, switch to your second view and make sure it is set to Top, or whatever perspective gives you the best view of your camera and the layers. I'm going to select the Camera layer and type AA, two As in quick succession, to reveal all of its camera specific parameters.

And I'm going to go ahead and resize the frame that my timeline is in to make sure I see all of its camera parameters. Normally this strong line indicates the zoom distance or the length of my lens. However, now that I turned off the preference that would link Focus Distance to my zoom, I can start scrubbing this parameter. When I do so watch what happens in this display. You will see a second pink plane appear which indicates where my focal plane is located, in other words what layers will be exactly in focus.

And as I scrub this value, you'll see over in the Active Camera display different layers go in and out focus. If I want this foreground node to be in focus, I'll click on it to select that layer, so I can see which one it is over here in my Top view, and scrub my Focus Distance until it lines up with that layer. Now you'll see it's perfectly sharp, while the layers that are further away from this focal plane are now out of focus. And as I drag the current time indicator through my timeline, you'll see how different layers come into and go out of focus as this camera and its focal plane moves through our composition.

Particularly here at the end where our hero frame is in focus, but it is out of focus earlier in the camera movement. You can manually set this focus distance, you can animate this focus distance, or as of After Effects CS 5.5 or later you can take advantage of a couple new menu commands that allow you to automate setting the Focus Distance, and that's what I'll discuss in the next movie.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space.


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Q: This course was updated on 12/06/2012. What changed?
A: This was a more extensive update than the other After Effects Apprentice courses. We added three new movies to Chapter 4 that cover 3D camera features in versions CS5.5 and later, such as depth of field blur. We added a new chapter on the 3D ray-traced renderer in CS6, and another chapter featuring a Quizzler challenge for CS6. Lastly, we added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, and added new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6.
 
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