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

Scaling issues in 3D


From:

After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Scaling issues in 3D

We mentioned very early in this lesson that a parent size of a layer in After Effects is controlled not just by its Scale parameter, but also by its Position. How close or how far away it is from the camera or the viewer. Now you might have heard that with 2D layers it's very important not to scale past 100%. Because at that point you're blowing up pixels, After Effects is having to make up new image pixels from scratch and you reduce in quality. But how do you tell when you're losing image quality in 3D? Let me solo these layers, I am going to look at it in isolation.
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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

Scaling issues in 3D

We mentioned very early in this lesson that a parent size of a layer in After Effects is controlled not just by its Scale parameter, but also by its Position. How close or how far away it is from the camera or the viewer. Now you might have heard that with 2D layers it's very important not to scale past 100%. Because at that point you're blowing up pixels, After Effects is having to make up new image pixels from scratch and you reduce in quality. But how do you tell when you're losing image quality in 3D? Let me solo these layers, I am going to look at it in isolation.

Now when I increase a layer beyond 100 %, you can see what starts to happen. The image gets very aliased looking and starts to fall apart. However, if I was to bring this layer very close to you, I would get the same effect. Even though the scale is still 100%, which is perfect image quality in 2D, you will see that this 3D layer looks pretty darn ugly. What's going on is the act of bringing a layer close to the viewer, is causing After Effects to have to scale it up underneath the hood.

So even though you don't see it in the scale parameter, the layer is indeed being scaled and for 3D layers, it's a combination of position relative to the viewer and scale which determines the final treatment of that layer. For example, I can go ahead and scale this layer back down and the layer becomes sharp again. So how can you tell when you are losing image quality for a 3D layer, particularly since you cannot rely just on the Scale value anymore. Well, here is how. Take the layer you are worried about, duplicate it, turn off it's 3D layer switch, so it becomes a 2D layer again.

Type S to reveal Scale, and set the Scale to 100%. This is the maximum size that layer can appear and not lose image quality. If you are positioned and scaled, 3D layer is smaller than your reference 2D layer at 100%, you are fine; you are not losing any image quality. However, if your scaled and positioned 3D layer is bigger than your reference 2D layer, you have got problems.

And just to check and go ahead and turn on just my 2D layer, I will take a snapshot of it, just for reference, then look at my 3D layer, and compare the snapshot of my 2D layer, to the size of my 3D layer. Now I can see that now my 3D layer has been scaled up compared to my 2D layer, therefore, I am potentially losing image quality. So how do you get around this? Well, if you know you are going to be looking at layers very close up in 3D, it's good to start with layers that have more pixels.

I am going to right-click on this layer, Reveal the layer Source in my Project, and look at its number of pixels. If this is an image been given to me by a client or perhaps a photograph or an image that I am scanning, I'll want this to have more pixels and higher resolution so that I can get closer to it without losing image quality. However, you are not always working with pixel based layers. In these earlier compositions, for example, we are working with After Effects text layers. The nice thing about text layers is that they are always continuously rasterized; that means no matter how much you scale them up or how close you get to them in 3D they will always be sharp.

For example, if I take this layer, and bring it really close to us, you will see it's still sharp. So that's an advantage of Text layers in After Effects, and also an advantage of the Shape layers, a subject we will cover in a future lesson. If you also have images that were created in a program like Illustrator and they are vector based, again, you have the option to continuously rasterize those layers and keep them sharp. For example, if I pick this house, turnoff its continuous Rasterization button, you can already see it's soft and fuzzy and aliased.

It's too close to me. However, by continuously rasterizing this layer, it will now become sharp, and that's an advantage of vector-based artwork. So just Illustrator files, vector based artwork in PDF et cetera. Now you don't want to make your sources needlessly large. Don't bring in a 5000 pixel photo, if you are never going to get that close to it. But if you do intend to get close to layers, for example, bring this house really close, make sure you have a lot of pixels or use vector based artwork like text layers, shape layers or illustrate artwork, and turn on its continuously rasterize switch.

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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