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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.
In the this sidebar movie I'd like to show you a few more tricks on how you can move 3D layers, lights and cameras in After Effects. You can just watch, but if you like to follow along. I'm going to open up Comps 06-Basic Lights starter; you might already have a light in there leftover from an earlier movie in this lesson. If you do, you can use that, if not, just add a layer>New>Light and choose a Point light to start, and in fact, I will change my light to point here. By now you're familiar coming with the Axis Arrows X, Y and Z. When I place my cursor over say the X axis arrow, and get the little letter X, as I drag, our movements are constrained to the X axis, and as I do so, you can see down in the Timeline panel that only the X value is changing, same for Y, and same for Z.
However, things change with a spotlight and to create a display I'm going to press P to get just the position, and Shift+A for the point of interest. Now this axis arrows for the back of the light, it's position, reflect how the light is pointed or how the light is oriented. Now the Z parameter is pointed at the point of interest, it's not pointed straight at or straight back, and indeed as I grab it and move it, you'll notice that all of three parameters, X, Y and Z are changing down in the Timeline panel, not just the Z position, the same will be true for X and for Y. Now why is that? That's because Axis Arrows typically are related to the layer itself.
This layer is pointing at its point of interest, so as far as it's concerned, it's Z, closer or further away is related to this point in space, not where you happen to be, not where the camera happens to be, not where other layers happen to be. If you want to change this behavior there are three little buttons on the top of toolbar you need to become familiar with. Local Axis mode is what we just described. Those axis arrows are local to how a layer is oriented. If I had another normal layer and rotated it, those axis arrows would be local to that layer and spin around as I rotate that layer.
If instead you want those axis arrows related to the World the normal X, Y, Z position accordance you're used to in the Timeline panel, you need to switch to World Axis mode. Watch what happens to the axis arrows, as soon as I select this mode. They now I snap around to the sort of orientation you might expect. Z now move things closer and further away, X moves left and right, and Y moves up and down, regardless of how the layers are oriented or how it is pointing.
And again, if you have been looking down the Timeline panel, you'll see that the parameters are changing as you would expect. The third mode is called View Axis mode, if you happen to be viewing things at an angle. For example, if I was just to switch to one of these custom views, when I switched to View Axis mode the axis arrows are relative to the view, not relative to the world, not relative to how a layer is oriented, but related to how you are viewing the scene, we see now again that the X arrow is pointing off to the right from this skewed perspective, and if you watch the Timeline panel, it's now moving more than one parameter, because it has to take that angling into account, same with Y.
The default in After Effects is to use Local Axis mode where those axis arrows do rotate around depending how the layer is oriented, but if you ever find that annoying or counterintuitive, now you know how to change it.
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