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In this chapter we are going to cover the features that have been made possible by the introduction of the Ray- traced 3D renderer in After Effects CS6. If you have access to the Exercise Files, make sure you're in the CS6 version and that you open the project file that's ends in RT, which stands for Ray-traced. I'll double-click that. Now something I want to warn you about up front, is that the Ray-traced 3D renderer can be very slow in After Effects, unless you have a specific family of video cards. Go to After Effects > Preferences > Previews, then in the Fast Previews section, click on GPU Information. As of After Effects CS6, you need to have a video card from NVIDIA that includes CUDA acceleration in order to really accelerate Ray-traced rendering. Otherwise, you're going to find all the functions in this chapter to be exceedingly slow.
In the movies on Ray-traced image quality, and also on the new Fast Preview options in CS6, we'll discuss ways of balancing off quality and performance, but your best bet is to either get a laptop or a workstation that has an NVIDIA CUDA accelerated GPU in it. Also make sure you download the very latest drivers for CUDA, because this is one thing that After Effects is proven to be very sensitive to. Old drivers may cause you issues. First, we're going to discuss Beveling and Extruding. I am going to open up my Comp RT-1.
In After Effects CS6 only two types of layers may be extruded and beveled, Text layers, which were discussed in an earlier lesson, and Shape layers, which are discussed in a later lesson. Additionally, you need to choose the correct rendering engine to extrude these layers. For example, this Text layer already has its 3D layer switch enabled. If I twirl down, you'll see I have my normal Text properties, my normal layer Transform properties, and Material Options, those options which are specific to 3D layers.
These are the options you see with the previous generation renderer. It used to be called the Advance 3D renderer, it's now called the Classic 3D renderer. To change the rendering engine used, you can go into Composition settings underneath the Advanced tab, or just click on this renderer button in the top right corner of the Comp Panel. You'll now see a pop-up with two choices, Classic 3D and Ray-traced 3D. You need to select the Ray-traced 3D renderer in order to get beveling, extrusion, and other features we'll be discussing in other movies, such as bending layers, transparency, reflections, et cetera.
The first time you do so, you're going to get a warning dialog, and it's worth reading this Alert. Whereas a 3D rendering engine does give you lots of capabilities, it also takes away several capabilities. Ray-traced 3D layers cannot use blending modes, track mattes, layer styles, masks, effects, or the Preserve Underlying Transparency switch. You choose only one rendering engine per composition, although each composition can have a different rendering engine. So you might find yourself splitting up work between different types of Comps or 2D and 3D layers.
I'll click OK.
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