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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.
Let's add some variation to the Camera Rig we built in the previous movie. Remember that the camera is a Child of the Null Object, so the camera can have its own animation. For instance, if I animate the Z value for the camera, I can make the camera go closer and further away. So let's do that. We'll start off a little further away, turn on the stopwatch for Position, synchronize the keyframe for the Null Object, and let's bring the camera a little closer for the second keyframe, and we'll RAM Preview. Now, one of the advantages of working this way is that, although I do have a Motion Path for the Z Position value, it's a very simple Motion Path, it's going in a straight line.
So even though the camera is swinging around, because it's a Child, it doesn't actually realize that it's being rotated, so the Z value is a nice simple Motion Path. So what about making the camera tilt up higher in the scene? I'll press F11, and then C for the Camera tool, and let's optimize this view since we have a different camera Preset, and then press V to return to the Selection tool. So we already have the camera moving along the Z axis, but there is no reason why I couldn't also animate the Y axis.
Well, let's give you a few things to think about. If I animated by moving the Y axis in the Left or Right View, notice it also moves the Point of Interest, you can see that in the Timeline as well. I'll undo. If I hold the Command key down though, Command on Mac, Ctrl on Windows, I'll only move the back of the camera and not the Point of Interest, and that gives me a different look. And of course I could do that by simply scrubbing the Position value directly in the Timeline.
However, by animating the Y Position value for the camera, I've now tied together two movements on one keyframe. I have the Z movement and the Y movement. So right now at the beginning of the animation, the camera is a little pulled back in Z, and as it gets to the second keyframe, it gets closer to the objects and also gets a little higher on the Y axis, but that's just one way to raise the camera. If I wanted to have separate keyframes for the Y and Z in order to place the keyframes at different points in time, I could instead raise the camera by animating the X Rotation for the Null Object.
Let me give you one more solution. I'll undo. I'll change this value back to 0, so that the Y is 0 all the way through the animation. I'll now make another new Null Object. I'll call this one cam up/down, turn on the 3D switch for the Null Object, and then I'll Parent the first Null Object to the second Null Object, and this gives me a different look. As I scrub the value up and down in Y, it's moving the entire Camera Rig.
That might be very useful depending on what you're trying to do. So I'll just set a little animation maybe at the beginning, looking a little down on our scene, a little later in time. Let me just change the Y value, so it's a little bit more centered. And again, one of the advantages of working this way, and I'll just press F9, so we can ease in on that, is that we can offset them in time. Let's just say I want to get closer to the animation early on, and then I want to continue orbiting around, and maybe I want to finish my up and down movement, and that's the beauty of keeping all this separate.
Of course, the best reason you're building a Camera Rig is that you don't need to have Motion Paths with handle sticking out in all funny directions. Once you've done a few animations like this, you'll come to appreciate that building a Camera Rig, although it seems like a few more steps, will make animating the scene so much easier, because you'll have separate controls over moving the camera back closer and further away, orbiting the camera around the scene, and moving the Camera Rig up and down. Of course if you're new to animating a camera in After Effects, this might seem a little complicated, or maybe a little overwhelming, not to worry, just revisit this movie when you have a little bit more experience.
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