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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.
For the next several movies, you don't need any particular project file. I have just a brand-new project here. I am going to start with Composition > New Composition. I am going to make a comp that's NTSC D1 Widescreen Square Pixel just because I know it will fit on my screen at a 100%, and I want you to see what's going on at 100% resolution. I am going to create a brand-new text layer. Virtually everything I am going to show you in the next several movies applies to shape layers as well. I'll double-click, center my paragraph text, and type in something like raytrace.
Enter. Scrub this a bit bigger so I can see what's going on. I am going to bevel and extrude this type. Now, a general tip to keep in mind is that beveling adds to the size of your type. So it's a good idea to start with a thinner type like this, perhaps something like a Myriad light font. As soon as you start using things like bold fonts, small areas like inside A's or where characters are close to each other-- I will go ahead and kern that out a little bit-- will start to close in and touch.
Just one thing to keep in mind when we are extruding: start with a thinner font. I will start with Regular. You can have a stroke for your type or your shape layers if you want to, and that stroke will automatically appear as the bevel color. But I am going to start without a stroke, just to show you some of the flexibility in extruding and beveling your type. I am going to enable the 3D layer switch for this text layer. And as soon as I do so, you will see a new item appear in the upper-right corner of the Comp panel. This is not a pop-up menu but actually a button that will take you straight into the Composition Settings and the Advance tab, where now you have two 3D renderers to choose from.
What used to be called the Advanced 3D Renderer is now called the Classic 3D Renderer. This is what some of us refer to as a 2.5D renderer. Objects had no thickness using this renderer. The nice thing about Classic 3D is that you had available to you all of the normal tricks you are used in After Effects: you can fix the layers, you can mask them, you could use blending modes, you could use track mattes, even though they were in 3D space. The alternative is to switch to the brand-new ray-traced 3D renderer.
This allows true depth. It allows extrusions, it allows reflections, and it allows transparency, all things that Classic 3D can't do. However, when you select Ray-traced 3D and click OK, you are going to get a warning dialog. Even though these things are enabled--extruded, refractions, environment maps, curving footage layers, I'll show that later as well-- there's a bunch of features that you may not use for 3D layers when you're using ray-traced 3D renderer. You can't use blending modes; you can't use track mattes; you can't use layer styles; you can't use masks and effects in many cases, such as text and shape layers--the very layers you want to extrude; and you cannot use the little T switch, Preserve Underlying Transparency--it's another way of creating a matte, basically.
So you really need to think ahead of time what do you need. Do you need extrusion, thickness, depth, transparency reflections, or do you need blending modes, masks, effects, layer styles, track mattes; that will guide which renderer you choose. But we are going to move ahead with the ray-trace 3D renderer because that's what's new in this version. I will click OK. Nothing immediately seems to change. Let's go ahead and change our Camera view to the custom view, and I will press C to bring up the Unified Camera tool, right-click and drag to zoom in, so we can see what's going on here.
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