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Placing the background

From: After Effects Apprentice 16: Creating a Medical Opening Title

Video: Placing the background

If you're jumping straight into this movie and you have access to the exercise files, you can go ahead and pick up the action from Intermediate Comps, O3 Camera Move. This has the music are already spotted, has our Placeholder layers already set up in place and has a Camera Move already created for you. However, I am going to continue with our final comp composition that we've already been building. Before I start replacing these Placeholders with the actual content, I think I'd like to have a background in this composition just to have something more interesting to look at and I can see my layers in context.

Placing the background

If you're jumping straight into this movie and you have access to the exercise files, you can go ahead and pick up the action from Intermediate Comps, O3 Camera Move. This has the music are already spotted, has our Placeholder layers already set up in place and has a Camera Move already created for you. However, I am going to continue with our final comp composition that we've already been building. Before I start replacing these Placeholders with the actual content, I think I'd like to have a background in this composition just to have something more interesting to look at and I can see my layers in context.

When working in 3D environments like this, you can either put a 2D background behind your 3D layers that way it will always stay in the same position and always fill the frame, or you can place a very large image far back in space so that it moves along with the rest of your layers in your Camera Move. For projects such as this, I prefer things that have some animation and some color and some motion in the background, but I don't want to be too interesting. I don't want it to distract from my foreground action. We've included such a file in your Sources Folder. I'll twirl up an Intermediate Comps, just to clean things up and go into Sources, Movies, and we have this file Liquid Abstract.

I actually created this using a very old DV Camera, shooting ripples of water. I shot it very out focus and then used various effects and plug-ins in After Effects to colorize it and to further blur it. So it's a nice, amorphous, interesting but not too interesting background. I'm going to go ahead and drag it below all of our other layers in our composition and now it will always fill the active camera frame regardless of where the camera is. When something is pretty abstract and out of focus, you may not notice that it's not moving along with the Camera Move.

But it doesn't take all that much to go ahead and put in the 3D Space and place it back there in your world. I'm going to enable this 3D layer Switch. As soon as I do so, you'll see that it jumps to the same position that our hero shot was at, basically centered in the composition right where that end Camera Move is. What I need to do next is make it large enough to fill up my background throughout the entire Camera Move. And the details of the following instructions may change based on your own arrangement of layers and your personal taste. Well I'll just show you what I go through when I do this.

First I want to type P to reveal its position and place it far back in Z space. I want it to be a part of my world, but to act like something on a distant horizon. So I have some of multi-planing movement but it won't be distracting. It won't move as much as the foreground layers. I'm going to hold Shift while I'm scrubbing to push it back faster. And I have got it somewhere back here in space and see how that layer moves relative to my other layers during the Camera Move. And you'll see it's moving a lot more slowly. So I think I like something about that far back of my composition.

Again you can change this to your taste. Personally, I think I'd like a little bit less of motion so I'm going to push it even further back so it has less movement as my camera moves. My next problem is that it doesn't fill the frame. Well that's okay, I can go ahead and scale it up. I'm going to hold the Shift key and Press "S" to add it, the Scale Parameter, to my timeline and start scrubbing it up until it fills the frame. Now what I need to do is make sure that it fills the frame throughout the entire Camera Move.

I see it early on here that it's not filling the left side of the frame. So I'll drag it over to fill that part of the frame. And it looks it works there, let's see if it does at the end of the move. [00:03:413 Oh looks like I don't have quite enough to fill the right side of the frame during the end of the Camera Move. So I'll scale up a little bit larger, move it over a little bit and see how that does throughout my move.

Okay, that looks like it's going to be plenty big enough. As a matter of fact, I can probably even make it a little bit smaller, so I don't want to blow up those pixels too much and lose too much resolution. Scoot it over, that works for the right edge, and that works for the left edge. So now I have a 2D layer that I have placed far back in 3D Space to act as my background for this entire world that I'm creating. I am probably blowing it up a bit at the end of the day, so I didn't need to make it large enough to fill this entire frame throughout the Camera Move.

But since it's already a nice, soft, amorphous background on the first place, I don't think image degradation is going to be all that much of a problem. Let's cue up quick RAM preview to see it in context. It still renders pretty fast, since they are just simple solids from my placeholders. And try that. (misic playing) Okay, that's nice and dreamlike. We'll go with that.

Okay, it's time to turn our attention to replacing these placeholders with actual content.

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