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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 previous movie we added a camera to our scene; before we learn how to animate it, I think it's important to learn how to use the Camera tools, both in the Active Camera View and in the orthographic views. The most important thing to remember about the Camera tools is that they operate differently depending on which view you're working in. If you use any of the Camera tools directly in the Active Camera View, you're actually changing the values for the Point of Interest and Position. In other words you're moving the actual camera.
When you use the Camera tools in one of the orthographic views, you're only changing the preview, not the actual camera. I'll show you why it's so useful to optimize your view in the next movie. For now, let's just focus on using the Camera tools in the Active Camera View. I'll select my Camera and these are the default settings for a 50 millimeter camera. If you've been playing with the camera, simply twirl it up and down again and click the Reset button; this will reset the parameters to the default settings, so you don't have to go and make a new camera.
Clicking Reset is also good anytime in this tutorial, but you want to just play around, make a mess, and then reset it and explore some of the other Camera tools. Instead of looking at all the parameters though, I'm going to press P to reveal Position and Shift+A to look at the Point of Interest. Remember that the Point of Interest is the point around which the camera orbits, and you'll only have a Point of Interest if your camera is a Two-Node Camera. So let's look at the Camera tools.
We have a Unified Camera tool introduced in CS4, and that allows you to use a three-button mouse to activate any of the individual tools. So starting with the Camera Z tool and working directly in the Active Camera View, notice when I use it in the Active Camera View, I'm changing the Z value for the Position of the camera. Now, it's important to point out that only the back of the camera is moving. Notice the Point of Interest is not moving.
That behavior is new in CS5.5. If you're using an earlier version, you'll see the Z value for Point of interest also change. If you don't want that behavior, remember you can also just scrub the value for Position and then only the back of the camera will change. Our next Camera tool is the Camera XY tool. If I use it in the Active Camera View, I can move the Camera and the Point of Interest, Left, Right, and Up and Down.
In the Timeline, notice the value for Z is not changing. Only the X value or the Y value is changing. Or you can move X and Y at the same time. Our last individual tool, the Orbit Camera tool, will actually orbit the camera around the Point of Interest. With the Two-Node Camera, you're always moving the back of the camera when you use the Orbit Camera tool. Notice in the Timeline, the value for Point of Interest is not changing.
Well, I mentioned that if you have a three-button mouse, you can instead use the Unified Camera tool, and that allows you to quickly use the Orbit Camera tool when you press the left-mouse button. When I press the right-mouse button, I'll get the Track Z tool and, again, the behavior is a little different than CS5.5, because it only changes the back of the camera. The middle mouse button will give me the Track XY tool. If you can't use the Unified Camera tool because you have a regular mouse, notice that the shortcut is C for the Camera tools.
So how this works is, if I have the Selection tool active and I press C, it will jump to the Unified Camera tool. If I press C again, I'll get the next tool, Orbit Camera, press C again for the Track XY tool, and press C again for the Track C tool. So once you learn what the different icons look like, you can pretty quickly press C to toggle among the different tools. To sum up, whenever you use the Camera tools directly in the Active Camera View, you're changing the values for the actual camera.
You can also of course just change the values by scrubbing them in the Timeline. In the next movie, I'll show you how to use the same Camera tools, but in the orthographic and custom views.
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