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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.
I am going to return my 3D View pop-up to Active Camera, because that's what we'll ultimately render from After Effects, and Preview my animation again. And I did want a nice arcing slam down, but this is just lacking excitement. I am going to need to look at this from multiple views and refine that Motion Path to get it the way that I like. And, by the way, you'll learn this about 3D, we joke that it's called 3D because it takes three times as long to do anything, and that's particularly true when it comes to tweaking these Motion Paths.
I'll select my Under layer, I'll work with that one first, and look at it from the side, such as the Left View. And now I see part of my problem. I wanted this layer to slam down this way, but now that I look at it from Left View, I see it's actually arcing up here and sliding down into place. It doesn't have quite the drama of a slam that I was really hoping for. Now, I could start moving between these different views; Left, Top, Active Camera, Custom, et cetera. We could even use these View shortcuts that we've discussed in a previous movie, but let's just go ahead and look at multiple views all at once.
In this case, I'm going to go ahead and change to 4 Views. This gives me multiple perspectives of my scene all at the same time. Now, as I mentioned, I always like to keep one at Active Camera, and that's what it's set to, but otherwise I'll set this up in a classic 3D arrangement. I'm going to choose this Top Left and make it my Top View, which it already is. I'll pick this Top Right and change it to be a Front View, so I can see things head on without perspective distortion. I select that Under layer, there is that path, and then I'm going to select this lower Left View and verify that it's indeed set to Left.
Now I can see my paths from several different angles and I can much more easily refine my actual Motion Path. Now, I mentioned one of the things I wanted to do was to slam down straight into that layer. From the Top View, I'm doing it the way that I want, but from my Left View I am not. So let's go to my Left View, select a keyframe, and start dragging out my path to give me that straight slam down drama that I was hoping for. Let's slide over to the start, then come down into Position. I'm going to look at my Top View and verify that the same thing is happening up there as well.
So both my Left and Top Views are showing me that indeed I am sliding in, then going straight back to my destination, which is cool. Now I'm going to look finally at my Front View and see what sort of path I am going through space here. Ideally, I might want something like a straight path, but I also don't mind a little bit of an arc to it. So I'll go ahead and play around with this Bezier handles to get what I want. Now, again, it may be hard for you to go ahead and grab these Bezier handles; you can grab that from an alternate view and move them around, or again, if you hold down Command+Option on Mac, Ctrl+ Alt on Windows, you'll get the Change Direction tool, and you can just drag out your handle.
This is not quite giving me the desired result here. Let's go ahead and make sure I am coming straight in like that. Look at my three Views, they all look good. Let's RAM Preview. Now my under animation is going straight back into the layer, and that's a little bit more of the slam animation I was personally hoping for than for this arcing sliding end that the Pressure layer was doing. Now that I've set that up, I might even set it up for even more drama to where I start further way in Z space, so it moves faster, it's traveling a greater distance.
But it doesn't come into the frame for a while. So I think I am going to need to do a little bit of tweaking here to my initial keyframe, so that it's a little bit closer to entering the frame, like right around there. Here is another advantage of multiple views, it was easy to grab and drag in the Front View. Okay. Now I've got a fairly straight slide in from the Top Left corner, but I am arcing through space and slamming straight down into my Destination layer. And now that I can see from all this views, it's easier to set the Pressure layer to do the same thing.
Come straight in, slide, then go over, verify the Top is okay, fairly straight path here. Go back to the starting time, make sure I'm out of the frame, maybe even pull it further forward for more speed, and drag it up so just it's entering the frame early in the animation. Drag it off to the corner here, down a little bit. Once you know what you're doing, it goes much faster.
And there is my slam down into Position. And if I want to see this at full frame, I'll switch back to 1 View. Make sure that I'm looking at the Active Camera View, because that's what's going to render, and now I'll RAM Preview. And I have a much better view of my final render and I was able to control that animation path to do exactly what I intended. So that's the secret to working in 3D, is you need to look at things from multiple perspectives, both to arrange your layers in space, for example, from this Top View I may decide that I want to have a slight separation between my slabs.
I'll grab the other one, move back a little bit, just again, to have a bit more perspective distortion, and even more importantly, to understand what my Motion Paths are doing in multiple dimensions.
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