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After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
Illustration by John Hersey

OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier


From:

After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier

3D is more processor and render- intensive in After Effects than 2D is. Fortunately, you can tap the power of your video card to help speed that up. However, it is a dual-edged sword. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to open up the comp 08-OpenGL*starter. If you've already been playing around with this composition in other movies, delete any lights you may have already added to the scene. I already have a section of layers and I have a 3D camera in the scene. I am going to select the Orbit Camera tool and drag it around my composition, and you can see how smooth and response of After Effects is. That's great, However, things slow down when I add more render-intensive things, such as 3D lights.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      2m 47s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 15m 12s
    1. Comparing 2D and 3D
      5m 30s
    2. Rotation in 3D
      4m 47s
    3. Keyframing in 3D
      4m 55s
  3. 15m 9s
    1. Multi-planing workaround in 2D
      3m 21s
    2. Using 3D views
      6m 45s
    3. Natural multi-planing in 3D
      5m 3s
  4. 13m 9s
    1. Keyframing a fly-in
      5m 24s
    2. Editing 3D motion paths
      5m 43s
    3. Auto-orienting a layer along its path
      2m 2s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Adding a camera to a composition
      9m 0s
    2. Comparing camera presets
      2m 48s
    3. Using the camera tools with the active camera
      4m 48s
    4. Using the camera tools in the alternate views
      4m 50s
    5. 3D view options
      1m 58s
    6. Animating a 3D camera
      6m 20s
    7. Creating an orbit camera rig
      5m 42s
    8. Extending your camera rig
      4m 31s
    9. Auto-orientation with 3D cameras
      7m 33s
    10. Depth of field blur in CS5.5 and later
      5m 47s
    11. Controlling the focal plane in CS5.5 and later
      5m 12s
    12. Iris properties in CS5.5 and later
      6m 16s
  6. 29m 15s
    1. Creating a 3D light
      6m 35s
    2. Working with Point lights
      3m 20s
    3. Working with Spot lights
      3m 48s
    4. Creating shadows
      10m 13s
    5. The Light Falloff feature in After Effects CS5.5 and later
      5m 19s
  7. 48m 6s
    1. Enabling ray-traced 3D in CS6
      3m 26s
    2. Extrusions in CS6
      3m 39s
    3. Bevels in CS6
      5m 39s
    4. Bending layers in CS6
      5m 35s
    5. Transparency in CS6
      4m 20s
    6. Refraction in CS6
      4m 6s
    7. Targeting Surfaces in CS6
      3m 23s
    8. Reflections in CS6
      7m 35s
    9. Environment layers in CS6
      5m 40s
    10. Quality vs. speed in CS6
      4m 43s
  8. 11m 33s
    1. Quizzler challenge for CS6
      1m 42s
    2. Quizzler solution for CS6
      9m 51s
  9. 41m 6s
    1. Vanishing Point Exchange in Photoshop Extended
      9m 18s
    2. Vanishing Point Exchange in After Effects
      4m 38s
    3. Importing a 3D model into Photoshop Extended in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 7s
    4. Creating 3D objects using Repoussé in CS5.5 and earlier
      9m 46s
    5. Live Photoshop 3D inside After Effects in CS5.5 and earlier
      8m 17s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Introduction to dimensional stills
      3m 41s
    2. Cutting up the source image
      2m 25s
    3. Repairing the layers in Photoshop
      8m 26s
    4. Animating the resulting layers in After Effects
      6m 26s
  11. 25m 27s
    1. Rotation vs. orientation
      3m 15s
    2. Understanding the axis modes
      4m 4s
    3. Scaling issues in 3D
      4m 57s
    4. OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier
      6m 23s
    5. Fast previews in CS6 and later
      6m 48s

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After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
4h 49m Intermediate Oct 19, 2011 Updated Dec 06, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Keyframing motion paths in 3D
  • Managing multiple 3D views
  • Auto-orienting cameras along a path
  • Creating shadows
  • Understanding Vanishing Point Exchange
  • Importing a 3D model into Photoshop Extended
  • Scaling in 3D
  • OpenGL acceleration
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

OpenGL acceleration in CS5 and earlier

3D is more processor and render- intensive in After Effects than 2D is. Fortunately, you can tap the power of your video card to help speed that up. However, it is a dual-edged sword. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to open up the comp 08-OpenGL*starter. If you've already been playing around with this composition in other movies, delete any lights you may have already added to the scene. I already have a section of layers and I have a 3D camera in the scene. I am going to select the Orbit Camera tool and drag it around my composition, and you can see how smooth and response of After Effects is. That's great, However, things slow down when I add more render-intensive things, such as 3D lights.

I'll go to layer>New>Light. I am going to use a Spot light, set the Intensity to 100, fairly generous Cone, a little bit of Feather to it, Falloff is introduced in After Effects CS5.5; I will leave it off for now. But importantly, I am going to turn Casts Shadows on. Shadows are one of the more render intensive features inside After Effects, particularly if I add a little bit of Shadow Diffusion; this really kills your render times. I'll click OK. I have some nice lighting, but the light is too close to the scene.

So I am going to press V to return to my selection tool and drag the light further away. You can already see as I drag, the comp is very slow to update. So this is a bit little annoying. However, I really notice a problem, when I press C, to go back to my Camera tool and try to orbit the camera out of scene. You will see it's nowhere near as fluid now as it was before. It's taking a long time to go ahead and update my scene. But let's look at ways to improve that.

Down here along the bottom of the Composition panel is a button called Fast Previews. In the comps that we've given you with this project, we've set fast previews to Off. That shows you all of the layers at their highest-quality and does not take advantage of the video card inside your computer. Let's drop down to Fast Previews Preferences and make sure that we've turned on Enable OpenGL. That says go ahead and take advantage of an OpenGL compatible video card that might exist in your computer or laptop.

If you want to see just what your video card is capable of, go ahead and click on OpenGL Info, it would show you what card is installed, how much Texture Memory your card has. By the way, more is better. Texture Memory is basically how many layers After Effects can load into your video card and keep them there. If you can keep all the layers in your video card, performance is really good. Half of a gig, to a couple of gigs of Texture Memories is far better than this basic card that I am using. Also of interest is this list of features that your card supports.

Mine happens to support Blending modes, Adjustments layers, Track Mattes, it can Accelerate Effects, Antialiasing, Motion Blur, even lights and shadows. But just because it says supported, it doesn't means it's always at the highest quality, and I will show you what I mean. I'll click OK. I am going to temporarily make sure Enable Adaptive Resolution with OpenGL is turned off. Adaptive Resolution is an old alternative, but After Effects would not calculate all of the pixels just to speed things up, and we'll click OK. Next, I am going to set Fast Previews to OpenGL-Interactive.

In other words, use the OpenGL engine on your video card to make After Effects snappier, more interactive. Now when I drag the Orbit Camera tool, you'll see things happen very quickly and very fluidly, just like when I did not have light or shadows, and that's just fantastic. I really like this. However, there is no free lunch. Carefully look at the outlines of the shadows in this layer, particularly in the upper left in the areas that I am circling now, see how crunchy they look? Well, as soon as I release the mouse, they'll rerender and be smooth again.

That is what OpenGL-Interactive means. It says only use the OpenGL engine when I have the mouse button down and I'm editing a parameter, camera position, light position, et cetera, but as soon as I release the mouse, switch back to the normal high quality software renderer. If you want to know when OpenGL is engaged or not, keep an eye on this button. It turns yellow when OpenGL is engaged. I'll make sure I'm in OpenGL- Interactive mode, click, and now you will see it turns yellow as I drag around.

I'll pause here, notice the crunchy shadows, Fast Preview is still yellow, I'll release the mouse, Fast Preview has turned back to its normal color. and then the scene renders sharp again. So that is the trade-off. If you have a client looking over your shoulder and they're very image-conscious, you might want to leave this off while they're there, so things always look good. However, if you're by yourself and you're arranging layers in a 3D scene or creating a camera or light animation where you need After Effects to be very snappy, you can turn OpenGL On.

Always On means to stay in that mode all the time, no switching back and forth. But you can see, here are things like the shadows are crunchy again. A good trade-off is OpenGL-Interactive. If you have a particularly slow computer, there is one more button you can press, but warning: it's a dangerous one and it causes people many headaches down the road. Along the top of your Timeline panel is a button called Draft 3D. What Draft 3D does is turn off the most render-intensive things in your scene.

In this case shadows and lights. Well, it does make the scene very, very fast, but it's nowhere near how things should look when they finally render. A lot of people click this button not knowing what it means, they leave it on, and they go, why aren't my lights working, why aren't my shadows working? It's because you've turned on Draft 3D. So this is when it's time to follow Trish's golden rule. If you ever turn on a button and you don't know what it did, turn it back off immediately, otherwise, it might sting you later on.

In our case we leave Draft 3D off all the time.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space.


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Q: This course was updated on 12/06/2012. What changed?
A: This was a more extensive update than the other After Effects Apprentice courses. We added three new movies to Chapter 4 that cover 3D camera features in versions CS5.5 and later, such as depth of field blur. We added a new chapter on the 3D ray-traced renderer in CS6, and another chapter featuring a Quizzler challenge for CS6. Lastly, we added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, and added new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6.
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