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Fine-tuning a stereo 3D scene

From: After Effects CS5.5 New Features

Video: Fine-tuning a stereo 3D scene

Now let's take a look at some of the adjustments that are possible with the Stereo 3D setup and a few of its limitations to give you a better idea of what would work best for this feature set. So right off the bat, the scene as it is currently isn't looking so hot, especially when you compare it to the original. There are some things missing. One of them is easy to correct. To get the motion blur that was appearing as the camera flies across, I can simply toggle it on in this master comp. So it is there and you just need to preview it.

Fine-tuning a stereo 3D scene

Now let's take a look at some of the adjustments that are possible with the Stereo 3D setup and a few of its limitations to give you a better idea of what would work best for this feature set. So right off the bat, the scene as it is currently isn't looking so hot, especially when you compare it to the original. There are some things missing. One of them is easy to correct. To get the motion blur that was appearing as the camera flies across, I can simply toggle it on in this master comp. So it is there and you just need to preview it.

It's passed through from the previous comps. More difficult to pass through is the lighting, and that's pretty crucial in this case. One way to get the lights into the final is simply to copy them and actually paste them into each eye. Now they'll retain their 3D position so they're not incorrect but you lose the interactivity of working with them in the source comp. You'll see however that they do show up in this final comp. Now looking at this in Anaglyph view, my eyes are having trouble resolving it with red and blue glasses.

I like the paper glasses in that they're so convenient and cheap, but I am better able to see the depth in this particular scene by switching to more monochrome Balanced Red Blue LR view. Other adjustments I make in the source scene do pass through. So for example, I'll just reveal the keyframes for the camera animation with the U key and go to that end keyframe. And if I pull the camera back, you'll see that it changed like that.

It does appear in the final. However, if I wanted the camera to go to the other direction to keep going, something very strange happens. The reason that it flipped and looked backwards toward the near title is that it is a 2 node camera, and that's how they behave. When they cross the Z-axis, they flip over. That would be a perfect case to instead use a 1 node camera, except that those are not permitted in this pipeline. Having gotten a few of those caveats out the way, let's take a look at some of the strengths of this toolset and the things that we can adjust.

First, the Stereo 3D Controls. These are the ones that actually move the cameras around in the sub comps if you adjust them. So Stereo Scene Depth by default is set to 3%. Now the After Effects team did a smart thing here by making this a percentage setting because that way it doesn't really matter the size of your output versus any sub comps or places you preview it. Proportionally, it will remain the same. And 3% is roughly equivalent to what human vision usually resolves to.

So I can actually set this to 0 and eliminate all 3D from the scene, or I can of course wind it out and make it impossible for your eyes to resolve the scene at all. The control that you'll usually want to adjust right away is Convergence and the first thing you'll probably want to do is enable it. Most rendered 3D scenes are converged, and what that means is that instead of being parallel to one another, the camera views actually crisscross and they meet at the point where you want the depth to focus.

So in this case this entire target is actually converged. Well, that's another flaw. We should be actually seeing convergence right in the center and some more separation toward the edges. And unfortunately, I saw that flaw elsewhere. I'll enable this Light and Particles element that's appeared in previous movies. Now looking at this in the final comp, we do see stereo separation but the Convergence settings don't affect it. So I am able to Offset Convergence. So for example, I can get the word near there to be the point that is converged by moving it back in Z space to about there.

Well, notice that the Convergence on this element didn't change at all and that's because it is pre comps. With the Convergence set at the front there, that back element is pretty difficult to resolve. But I do start to get some separation happening on the target element more like a light, so I might go with something somewhere in between. Now, of course, this depends on whether you want elements more to pop out, in which case you would set the Convergence further back, or whether you want them to receive more into the scene, in which case you would set it further forward.

Everything that I've been adjusting in Stereo 3D Controls has actually been affecting the individual views. Let me give an extreme example of that. I'll pull the Convergence way, way forward. And we'll take a look at the Left and I'll take a snapshot and compare that with the Right. So you can see that that extreme separation ripples through to these others. Just undo that. Now by contrast if I just Scene Convergence under 3D Glasses, this is just moving the frames wholesale and comparing those, they're still the same as they were.

3D Glasses, again, is previewing only and in fact most of the controls in here are just to fix things that might break. So in addition to this gross Convergence adjustment, you have a Vertical Alignment adjustment in case you're cameras were actually out of whack when it was shot. There's a Swap Left and Right in case the entire thing is backward. You do have the option of using Pixels instead of % of Source, even I already said why percentage is probably better in most cases. We've seen the various 3D Views that you have available. And finally, the Balance control just allows you to soften the effect of separation a little bit if it helps the scene read better.

So these stereo features are designed predominantly to allow you to adjust the scene depth and convergence and preview the scene directly in After Effects.

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After Effects CS5.5 New Features

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