After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques
Illustration by John Hersey

Depth-of-field utilities


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After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques

with Chris Meyer

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Video: Depth-of-field utilities

After Effects CS5.5 has also gained a nice new utility to make it easier to work with cameras in After Effects. If you have Creating Motion Graphics for CS5, I am still in the example project for Chapter 14 on cameras and I open up the project Ex.01_final. It has a little flyaround some objects on stage. I want to go ahead and switch out to 2 Views - Horizontal, so I can see the Top view and my Active Camera side by side. It's kind of hard to see all my objects here in this Top view, so I am going to go ahead and select it and go to View > Look at All Layers.
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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques
1h 58m Intermediate May 02, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This course highlights some of the most exciting features in the latest release. These include enhanced 3D lights, cameras, and effects; the Warp Stabilizer; new stereoscopic tools; and the simplified audio workflow between Audition and After Effects. The course also includes bonus tips, "Tweaks for Geeks," on working more efficiently in After Effects, including searching, sorting, saving, and more.

After Effects CS5.5 New Creative Techniques was created and produced by Trish and Chris Meyer. We are honored to host their material in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Adjusting the parameters in Warp Stabilizer
  • Creating orbiting camera rigs
  • Using the Camera Lens Blur effect
  • Understanding focus and convergence
  • Processing audio dynamically
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Chris Meyer

Depth-of-field utilities

After Effects CS5.5 has also gained a nice new utility to make it easier to work with cameras in After Effects. If you have Creating Motion Graphics for CS5, I am still in the example project for Chapter 14 on cameras and I open up the project Ex.01_final. It has a little flyaround some objects on stage. I want to go ahead and switch out to 2 Views - Horizontal, so I can see the Top view and my Active Camera side by side. It's kind of hard to see all my objects here in this Top view, so I am going to go ahead and select it and go to View > Look at All Layers.

This will zoom back a little bit and allow me see my camera in addition to all of these different layers I have in my world. I want to go a little bit later in time to where I have a nice angle on all my layers such as around here. And I am going to take my camera, type AA, enable the Depth of Field blur, and crank up the Aperture so I have got some nice depth of field going on. Now, you saw before that I could scrub the Focus Distance to set who is in focus. I will go ahead and drag out to where the text layer is.

You will see it becomes in focus. Scrub it back to where now this foreground gear is in focus. Keep going until this gear off to the left is in focus. Or push it back toward the video wall is in focus as well. This takes a bit of scrubbing and frankly a bit a guesswork. Well, After Effects CS5.5 has some ways to make this easier. I am going to set this to a nicer Iris Shape for now and just get a nicer look. Let's say that I indeed want this gear to be in focus.

I will select that gear then Command or Ctrl+Click on the Camera so that both my camera and my target layer are selected at the same time. Then I will go to the menu item for Layer, down to Camera, and say Set Focus Distance to Layer and immediately that layer snaps into focus. It automatically calculates that right distance for me, for this center to be in focus. AndI'll go ahead and change and say let's make this text layer our focus.

I will pick the text layer, Command on Mac, Ctrl on Windows, click on Camera. So, both of my target layer and the camera are selected, very important. Go to Camera, set Focus Distance to that layer, and now the text is in focus. Now that particular menu command is a one shot deal. It sets the focus to since once. As my camera animates around the scene, things may fall in or out of focus. Let's say that I always want a particular item to be in focus.

I have a couple of choices there. I will go ahead and pick that item, such as say this gear right here. Select that, Command or Ctrl+Click the camera as well, go to Layer > Camera > Link Focus Distance to Layer, rather than Set. That says create an expression that will constantly recalculate how far away that layer is. I will set the focal-plane to make sure that layer is in focus. So, as I am at far way, it's in focus.

As I am very close, it's in focus and through the entire panning shot that layer stays in focus, as automatically updated by this expression. Very nice! I will undo. Let's say that I have already set my point of interest to be at the item that I want to be in focus. Another option is to set the camera just by itself and choose Layer > Camera > Link Focus Distance to Point of Interest. When I do that, it automatically rights the expression to follow that point of interest even if it's animating.

So, that's another option to make it easier to decide who gets to stay in focus during an animation and I will undo to disable that.

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