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Turning 2D layers into 3D layers

From: After Effects CS5 Essential Training

Video: Turning 2D layers into 3D layers

Folks, this chapter represents almost like a transition of sorts in this training series. We're going to be going from kind of initiatory After Effects features to more significant, complex, and advanced ones, starting with, in this chapter, 3D. We're going to take this map of this olive farm, and we're going to bring this to life by making these elements 3D. This is a significantly more complex project that we've seen before. It's much more like a real- world After Effects project.

Turning 2D layers into 3D layers

Folks, this chapter represents almost like a transition of sorts in this training series. We're going to be going from kind of initiatory After Effects features to more significant, complex, and advanced ones, starting with, in this chapter, 3D. We're going to take this map of this olive farm, and we're going to bring this to life by making these elements 3D. This is a significantly more complex project that we've seen before. It's much more like a real- world After Effects project.

There are 42 visible layers in this. So, there is a lot to play with, and what we're going to do is we're going to take some of these layers - again, this is just from a flat Illustrator file, just a regular old run-of-the-mill graphics file - We are going to make this come alive by moving these pieces of this map in 3D space. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to select this Icon 2. Let's select. This is layer number 6. Go ahead and select that layer. What we're going to do is hit the letter P for Position.

We want to make sure that we're seeing the switches area, these little icons here. If not, you can go ahead and click on the Toggle Switches/modes button. If you look over here, there is a cube. This column indicates the ability to make a layer three-dimensional. Now, if you're familiar with like 'Shrek' and stuff like that, in other words, 3D objects, you might be a little bit confused by what's going on with After Effects. In After Effects, we don't really create 3-dimensional objects, typically. With the 3D in After Effects, usually what we mean is the 3D world, the 3D environment.

So, the object itself remains flat, like a piece of paper. But when we make a regular old 2D layer 3-dimensional, what that gives us is the power and ability to move that in 3D space. If you can move things in 3D space, then you could simulate three dimensions, which is very powerful. It sounds like very amateurish, just to move flat things in space, but if done correctly, the result is really powerful. So, we're going to go to this Cube check box on Icon 2, and we're going to check that.

Now, not very much seemed to happen - the layer looks the same - but really what has happened is that we now - if you see what happened with Position - it added a third dimension. We know about X, left and right. We know about Y, up and down. And now that the layer is 3D, we have Z. In other words, it is closer to us, and farther away from us. Now until you have multiple three- dimensional layers in your scene, then it's going to look like you're just scaling up and down an object.

When you move it along the Z axis, it is coming closer toward you and farther apart. It's basically just going to look like you're scaling it up and down. But if we combine that with other layers, let's say, for example, this tree right here, behind it. This tree is the tree frontmost layer, layer number 15. I'm going to go ahead and make this a three-dimensional layer by clicking its Cube icon, and hit P for position. Then we play with position here. Adjust that. Maybe bring that up closer to Icon 2.

What I'm going to do now is I'm going to change the view using this dropdown. It says Active Camera, by default. I'm going to change this to the top view. So, now we're seeing the top view of the layers. These views are only good for three-dimensional layers. So, we're only seeing two of the lines here, but we could see that we now have this relationship between these two layers. Just for a reference, let's go ahead and put Icon 3, 4 and 5 in three-dimensions as well. So, we see that they are aligned with the ground plane, the initial place where all objects are.

We've aligned Icon 2 and the tree layer, which we can adjust here. We could click and drag on these little arrows to adjust along this axis. But we could see that we have adjusted them in space now, so that the tree that we created in 3D is now in front of Icon 2. So, because this is the top view, think of the viewer as sitting right here, almost as if we were in a movie theater, and this is the movie screen, and the audience would be down here at the bottom of this screen.

So, this view is to help you kind of get situated in 3D space. If it's more helpful for you - I'm going to take this back to Active Camera - you can go to the dropdown to the right of that, and change this from 1 View to 4 Views. So, now you can see different views of the objects. So, now we are seeing our three-dimensional objects. We're seeing the icons. I could zoom in here and see the icons and the tree. Here we're seeing the right view. So, we have the regular icons, and then we have the tree, and then the main icon back here.

You could see also, if we zoom in here, that even though in the original design, the tree was behind the icon. Now because we've arranged them in 3D space, so that the icon is behind the tree, the tree is obscuring the view of the icon. So, we can grab this along the right edge, again, using our movie theater now, just almost like we're looking at the side of the movie theater where the right side is the movie screen point it to the left, and the audience would be here on the left watching the screens to the right. So, we can grab the arrow in Z space here, and move this in front of the tree.

You could see the difference in the front view of what that looks like. So, here is the icon in front. Move it behind the tree. You could see it in back. So, we're basically, again, staggering these layers in three dimensions. I'm going to take this back to 1 View here. A piece like this - and I separated this into tons of different layers. Every tree is its own layer. That's what will create the most 3D depth is that each of these trees are its own layer, and they move in three dimensions. It will add a lot to the realism. But the problem is, is we that when we have a layer this complex, or a project this complex, it is very time-consuming to arrange all of these objects in 3D space, but that is just what you need to do.

That is the name of the game. But once you have arranged these objects in 3D space, and then what we could do is create a camera, and move around this scene in a very realistic and lifelike way. One rule I want to point out before we get into talking about that in the next movie is that there are some rules with 2D and 3D layers, and one is that 2D layers don't play the 3D game. So, for example, I have this Frame layer at the top. I'll go ahead and take off the visibility, so you could see this outline of this frame.

If the Frame layer is 3D - and let's go down to the Choo Choo Tracks layer - it's like the railroad tracks. I called it Choo Choo Tracks. So, I'm going to make the Choo Choo Tracks layer 3D as well. So, the Frame is 3D, and the Choo Choo Tracks are 3D. I'm going to select Choo Choo Tracks and press P to reveal its position. If I adjust this in Z space, I can, at some point, bring this layer in front of the Frame layer.

In other words, the 3Dness allows layers to go in front of each other, even above. It, like, overrides the layer stacking order. So, as we saw with Icon 2 and the tree, even though the Icon 2 layer is on top, we're able to go back and forth, between those two layers, because they exist in 3D space. I'm going to go ahead and try to - let's actually go to a 4 View here, and we have our railroad track. If we were to move this around, at some point, the Choo Choo Tracks - for some reason, that's not working, because the stacking order is too high - but at some point, the railroad tracks can overlap the Frame.

They can go in front of this frame. So, if we wanted to make sure that the frame was always in front, then we would make it a two-dimensional layer. We'd make sure that it stayed 2D, same thing with the background. Usually, when you have a background like this - take this back to 1 View here - when you have a background like a solid color like this, you typically want to keep that in two-dimensions. So, that way nothing goes behind it. So, basically, if you have a 3D layer, then layer order doesn't matter. It will go in front of and back of whatever objects are in 3D space.

But if you have 2D layers, they cannot defy the layer order. So, what is in front will always remain in front, what is in back will always remain in back, if those layers are 2D layers. So, what I'm going to do between now and when I see you in the next movie, I'm going to arrange these objects in 3D space. I'm just going to go, let's say, for example, the Left Barn BIG. I'm going to hit P. I'm going to make this a 3D layer. I'm going to adjust this in Z space, and then I could go to the Left Barn SMALL layer, again, make this a 3D layer, adjust the Z space.

As you could see, they can override the layer order, because of the fact that they are both 3D layers. But I'm going to adjust everything staggered in three-dimensional space, so that we have, again, a series of layers in 3D. I'll show you what that looks like in the next movie. We'll also add some light and cameras to increase the realism and give some 3D movement to this scene.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS5 Essential Training
After Effects CS5 Essential Training

111 video lessons · 67493 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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