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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 have already cleaned up my display by selecting Close All, and let's go ahead and open up the Comp 03-3D Animation*starter. You'll note that the 3D layer switch has already been turned on for all of the layers in this composition. I'll type Command+A or Ctrl+A to Select All and then P for Position. And we'll see that there's been some slight separation in Z space, between the text, which is pulled towards us, -10 units in Z, and the slabs, which have been moved push back a little bit, +10 units in Z. And as you now know from the previous chapter, if I change my View to something such as Custom View 3, you can see the slight separation between the layers, particularly if I go to Top View.
Here my text layer is in front and there is my slab layers behind. I'll go back to Active Camera for now. Let's say I want to animate these two text layers slamming down into this final resting position. Now, whenever you already have your layers arranged the way that you want, a great time saving tip is to go to the point in time where you want them to be in that position, such as maybe 1 second, and enable keyframing for them at that time. You can click at the Position stopwatch to turn it on, or if you're really into keyboard shortcuts, if you hold down Option on Mac or Alt on Windows and press P for Position, that will also enable keyframing.
And if you had Position hidden, it would also reveal the Position parameter in your Timeline panel. So there is my at rest position. Now let's go back to the start, press Home just to go there automatically, and decide where we want these layers to start from. I'll start with this Under layer, let's say I want it to fly in from this upper left corner. Drag it up in this Position. When I drag in this manner, I am only moving in the X, Y axis, and if you look at the Timeline panel values, you can see those are the only ones changing. Since I want this to just slam down rather than slide in sideways, I also need to pull it towards me in Z space.
I'm going to pull this layer down a little bit so I can see it, pull it forward, or if you find this all to be very fussy, remember you can always just scrub values in the Timeline panel. So let's start say there. I drag my Current Time Indicator, and that's my beginning animation. Now, rather then just go down straight, let's say that I want to have a nice little arc to it, so it seems to have a little bit of a flight path to it as it comes down. Well, just as with 2D layers, you have handles for your Bezier Motion Paths, they are these slightly larger dots.
If you're having trouble seeing these animation paths, by the way, the layer Label Color also affects the color of the Motion Path and these dots that show you where it is at each frame. I might change this layer to something like None, which means white. It now gives me a little bit more contrast to see what's going on. Select a keyframe, and I will see now the Auto Bezier handle coming out for that keyframe. I can either click that handle and drag it out. Or if I'm having trouble seeing the dot, remember you can hold Command+Option on Mac or Ctrl+Alt on Windows, get this Change Direction tool, click on the Position keyframe, then start dragging, and you'll get your handle that way.
So now, here is my fly down from near me in space arching into Position. And I might pull this a little bit further forward so it flies in from above me in the frame. And I think this arc was a bit exaggerated, so I'm going to pull that down, drag the Time Indicator. All right, That's the beginning of my animation. Let's just do the other thing with Pressure very quickly as well. I have already enabled Position keyframe support. I'll drag it down here for starters.
I'll change its Label Color to None or white, so I can see the path much more easily. I can drag it towards me in space, or I can scrub its value. Now that it's gone below me where I can't see it anymore, it's kind of hard to grab. That's no problem, I can just go ahead and scrub its Y value up to where I can see it again, and then drag out its handles to also move it. And again, if you have trouble seeing layers that are off the pasteboard, you can go ahead and resize your Comp panel, or press the spacebar to temporarily get the Hand tool and move the entire view around.
There is my other keyframe. Now, I'll pull in that direction, Shift+/ will re-center your display and maximize its scale. So now I've got my two layers coming down into Position, and then I'll move a little bit later in time, press N to add my Work Area, and press 0 on the numeric keypad for RAM Preview. All right, that's an okay animation. It's frankly not as exciting as I was thinking it was going to be.
And just like you would benefit from having additional perspectives to see how your layers are arranged, having these perspectives will also help you see what's really going on in your Motion Path, and it may not be completely what you expect. So in the next movie, we're going to use these alternate views to help us refine our 3D Motion Paths.
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