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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 this movie, I'll show you how to use the Camera tools in the orthographic and custom views, and I think you'll find it very useful for optimizing your views. Before we get started, I'll twirl up the camera, twirl it down again, and then reset the values. Again, I'll press P for Position and Shift+A for Point of Interest, and now let's see how the Camera tools work when we use them in an orthographic view. I'll press the spacebar and use the hand to bring the entire comp into view. And I'll also set this view to Fit up to 100%.
But this is all from the view that you end up seeing. And if you want to see the camera, you either have to use the Hand tool to pan down, or you have to change your Magnification to something quite small. But notice the size of the camera when we're at a large view compared to the size of the camera and the size of the axis arrows when we switch to a very small view, let's say 25%. When I go to 25%, I can see the entire camera, all of the layers, and maybe any other layers that are out in the pasteboard, but notice how small the back of the camera is.
And if I switch back to the Selection tool, the individual axis arrows are very hard to select, and even the back of the camera can be very hard to select, simply because it's so small. And you'll often find that even at 50% we can't see everything in the view. So here's how I work around this problem. I always leave the Magnifications set to Fit up to 100%. We'll press C for Camera, and I'll press the right-mouse button to get my Track Z tool. Now as I use the Track Z tool, I can fit everything very easily into the view, without changing the size of the back of the camera and the arrows.
By the way, it might look like I'm moving the layers, but notice none of the values in the Timeline are changing as I do that. Again, the middle mouse button, Track XY, the right-mouse button is Track Z, and the regular mouse button won't do anything. That's because I'm trying to use the Orbit Camera tool in an orthographic view, but in order to use the Orbit Camera tool, I need to actually have perspectives, which I don't have in the Top View. But since I also like to use the Left View a lot, let's practice this again in a different view.
You might prefer to use the Right view, either one is fine. I can press the middle button for the Track XY tool and then zoom down with the Track Z tool so that it fits nicely. Remember that all this panning and zooming is strictly for preview purposes. My goal is to keep the size of the axis arrows for the layers as well as the cameras and lights nice and large so that they're easy to edit. And the key is to not reduce the Magnification, but to leave it at Fit up to 100%.
Again, I won't be able to use the Orbit Camera tool in the Left View, because I can't change perspective. The last view we look at is the Custom View 1. In this case, I can use the Orbit Camera tool, because some views are very handy for looping at your stage from different angles. And if I use the Camera tools to zoom in and out or to move the X and Y, again, I'm not moving the actual camera. If I want to move the camera itself, I can press V for the Selection tool and drag one of the axis arrows or drag the back of the camera.
I could also move the Point of Interest. So when you're learning how to use the Camera tools, I highly recommend that you reveal the point of Interest and the Position values in the Timeline and to keep an eye on whether or not these values are changing. Also, if the values are changing, the view in the Active Camera View will also change, and that's another heads-up that you're actually changing the camera itself. And one more thing to keep an eye on, notice that as I drag an axis arrow, the Point of Interest is also changing, and that goes for the X, Y, and Z arrows.
So here is a little tip. I'll undo, and this time I'll press the Command key on Mac, Ctrl key on Windows, and notice as I drag the Y arrow, only the back of the camera is changing, and only the value for Position is changing. Same thing goes for the Z; I'm moving it closer and further away without changing the Point of Interest. Using the Camera tools do take a little bit of practice, so explore these before we start making an animation.
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