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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
In the world of photography, whether you are talking about stills or video, the key element is focus. And if you have a wide enough aperture, if your aperture is opened big enough to allow enough light to enter the camera usually with like some pretty nice lenses or a great sensor on your camera, then you can achieve a very shallow focus, a very shallow depth of field as we call it. And this is just a phenomenal look. It's one of the things that everyone is coveting all these cameras for. They want to be able to have this shallow depth of field, which we can actually recreate in After Effects here with an After Effects camera.
This is phenomenal. So, go ahead and open up the Camera Options and what we are going to do is we are going to turn on Depth of Field. So, you open up the Camera Options, and we are going to turn on Depth of Field. You can go ahead and do that. Before I do that, I want to change my view here. You might notice that I took this 2 icon, and I brought it very close to the viewer. I adjusted in Z space, so it is very close to the camera. So, I am going to go to the Top view and zoom out a little bit and actually this is the number 2 icon.
So, if we click the camera layer to see the camera-- Actually let me back up a little bit. Here's all the other layers, and then here is the number 2 layer. So, it's actually not scaled up or made any larger. It was just brought much closer to the camera. Now I want you to watch the camera. Look at this area right here. This is like triangle that shows us the camera's range of view. So, watch that when I turn Depth of Field on. Boom! Okay, so nothing happened because the Depth of Field is right here. What I am going to do is change Focus Distance. I am going to drag this down.
Now you can see what was added. So, if we turn off Depth of Field, that goes away. We turn it back on. It comes back on. So, what we can do is use this visual indicator as a reference for what we want to be in focus. So, I am going to change my focus distance, drag it back down so that what's in focus is the number 2, which would make everything else behind it out of focus. So, I am going to change this back to Active Camera and zoom in so we could see what's going on now. And now you could see we have the number 2 in focus and everything else behind it out of focus.
Now just as in real life, if you want to make the Depth of Field even more shallow, you increase the Aperture. So, if you wanted to increase the Aperture, it would make the background even more blurry. Now the Focus Distance is about 500 pixels we'll say. If we go back to the Top view, and then zoom out a little bit and adjust the Focus Distance to where it is in the middle of all the other layers. It's about 1100 we will say, just to round-up. We will say it's 1100. There we go.
Then we go back to the Active Camera view and you could see the difference. Even though this 2 is right next to the camera, that's not where our eye goes. Our eyes goes to what is in focus. And so that's why cinematographer's greatest tool is focus. The ability to control what viewers are looking at and Depth of Field does that. So, we could create what's called a rack focus effect where we start at 500, where the 2 icon is in focus, and move out on time maybe about 15 frames.
Click the stopwatch for Focus Distance at 500. Move out in time to about 1 second and 15 frames and then take this to 1100. And we will change the rack focus. So, we could animate this, so we again create this rack focus effect where this 2 icon is in sharp focus, and then it's almost like we shift the focus on the camera and that goes out of focus and what is behind it becomes in focus. So, as you could see Depth of Field takes a little while to render, but once we do-- Actually I'll just go ahead and hit B here and N here to create a work area, and you could see there is our Depth of Field.
Again, the rack focus effect because we have two depth planes and we shift the focus from one to the other. Actually, we could even expand this a little bit out so we can get a better sense of where it comes from and where it goes. Ah! It's amazing, Ah! I love that effect. So, we can do that with motion graphics here in After Effects with Depth of Field, which is just amazing. To be able to take real-world things like shadows and lights and fall-off and depth of field, you will to apply them to Illustrator files like 2D graphics. It's just amazing what you can come up with in After Effects because of that.
You will love it.
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