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Have you looked at a photo and wished you were there, or wondered what the scene looked like to the photographer? Now you can bring your photos to life by adding motion and depth to your images. Author Rich Harrington reveals how you can transport your photos into a three-dimensional world using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. The course shows you how to select the right images and resolutions; how to use masks and layers to build the composition in Photoshop; and how to animate the camera and light the scene in After Effects.
As you begin to animate the After Effects camera, it's important to know how to navigate through the views and the user interface to properly frame things. I've opened up the two pieces we worked with, and I've brought in another new project, just to help illustrate a few points. Now normally, you only have a single view, and remember, the comma key pulls it out, and the period key zooms in. This makes it easier to see what you're doing. I am going to go ahead and animate this camera here and just make sure that everything is set up correctly.
Check my composition settings for size, as well as the total duration for the clip itself. Now, in this case, I've got these clouds, and I want to play with their position. I am going to push them backwards. So it's quite a large layer. But what I want to do is actually rotate those in space. Let's start by framing the camera here. You see that I'm not seeing enough of the view. So, with the transform controls, the camera, I am going to start to pull it back.
But you see that gets kind of confusing. Well, where is it? I can play with all these sliders. Well, if I just change my view here and go to two views, and I'll set this one to Custom View 1, watch how easy this becomes. You want to move your camera just select it, and you can come right here and grab it. Notice you can actually see the handles here. I will zoom in really tight. There is the Y, the X, and the Z axis.
So, I can just pull that right back on the Z axis to frame my shot. That makes it much easier to move the camera when you're literally just grabbing the camera and moving it. Now, I've got that positioned, and what I want to do now is adjust these clouds. I am going to go ahead and take the orientation here and adjust this a little bit on the Y axis to match the angle and on the X axis, so they look like they're coming overhead a bit.
Now, this is pretty cool, because you'll notice that we could animate those clouds moving forward towards us, or from side to side. That's going to allow us to create a pretty cool sense of motion within this individual photo. All right! I've got the camera basically positioned for that one. Let's check our other two shots. There is our camera. We are going to start in a bit and adjust it.
I also have the ability within the camera controls to zoom. Notice adjusting the playback quality here makes a big difference. And even though we've zoomed in, this is really holding up pretty well. I could adjust the zoom there to frame the shot, and grabbing the handles of the camera make it very easy to reframe. That works pretty well.
So we've done a good basic framing position there to start. Let's do our last one for final practice. I'll grab the camera there. We are really zoomed in because of the lens length. I am going to twirl that down and take a look at some of my options. Let's pull the zoom out a little bit. There we go! And adjust the framing of the camera. I want to start on this group of guys here. Remember, sometimes you need to zoom in to make it easier to see what you're doing, so you can grab those camera handles and frame it up.
That looks pretty good! So, we've set a good starting position for every one of these, and we are going to animate the cameras in just a moment. Now, this particular image is a bit unique. I don't have three layers like I was talking about for parallax, but I do have these cool layer of clouds here that I can animate. It's a really large photo of clouds. I am going to turn on the keyframe here for position, and I'll just go to the beginning and the end and adjust that a bit.
We're going to have those clouds coming over the top of the mountain like they're blowing towards us. There we go! That looks pretty good. This is going to have a feeling of a bit like a time lapse shot. I'll zoom in here to frame that up, and let's just do a quick RAM preview just about right. There is a little bit of a problem on that first frame there, a little bit of seam. So we will just adjust that. Oh! That's interesting there.
Notice the intersection. What's happening is because this is an angled layer, the 3D layers are colliding. That wasn't an accident, this is to help you understand that when you start to rotate layers, they can intersect. Let's take a look at the camera view here, and we'll see it. Here is my Layers, and you can see that they've actually crossed the intersection point there. If we view this from the side, you might see it as well. So, there is the quarter-angle view, here is the left-hand view, and let's just zoom out a bit, and you see there is a definite intersection.
So, what's necessary is to move these backwards until it no longer crosses the plane. Let's check this here as well. It looks good. So, there is the clouds moving through the frame with no intersection. Notice, having multiple views really comes in handy as you're trying to understand the relationship.
You can go ahead and switch those views between different angles, and it makes it easier to see what's happening as you drag. That looks good! Let's just do a quick RAM preview, and we have the time lapse effect of the clouds going over the frame. Let's adjust our camera position for a little more headroom, and in this case, we are going to adjust it separately. Instead of grabbing the handle, which moves both the position and point of interest at the same time, I'm just going to drop the position value, and it tilts up.
Notice, you could independently frame the shot. This is helping me create the same sense of perspective of the camera being lower angle, and shooting up into the rocks. That looks good! And now with all three shots properly framed for the starting positions, we are ready to animate our cameras.
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