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Understanding the axis modes

From: After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

Video: Understanding the axis modes

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.

Understanding the axis modes

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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This video is part of

Image for After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space
After Effects Apprentice 11: 3D Space

54 video lessons · 14192 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 
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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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