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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.
Now that you've defined your Vanishing Point Exchange surfaces inside Photoshop, you need to get this out of here and in After Effects. To get this out of Photoshop, you still need to be in the Vanishing Point dialog, open from underneath the Filter menu, and you go to this very innocuous little flyout menu, click on it, and there is a command for Export for After Effects (.vpe), Vanishing Point Exchange. You'll note that you can also make some very simple DXF or 3DS models as well, but I want to choose VPE. I'll select that.
I am going to create a New Folder, because this is going to create a lot of individual images, plus a Vanishing Point Exchange file to bring them together. I'm going to say AEA building, Create, and I'm going to name this BuildingTest.vpe of course you can name it whatever you like, and click Save. Once you've exported your VPE project, click OK in the Vanishing Point dialog and you still need to save the image itself.
When you save it, you'll save the Vanishing Point information along with it. So in my case, I'm going to do Save As, and give it a new name such as in progress. By saving the file you'd be able to come back and tweak the information later rather than start from scratch, by saving it underneath a new name, you'll keep the original file intact as well. I'll click Save. And I like Maximum Quality for images like this. Now let's switch back to After Effects and import our new file. As a result of this, it's going to create a composition. So I am going to select my Comps folder, then choose File>Import>Vanishing Point.vpe).
I will navigate to the folder I created, AEA building, and you'll notice it has a lot of individual .png files, that represent all the individual rectangles I defined, and a BuildingTest. vpe file. And I will Open. I have all my individual files now, and if I double-click, you'll see all these surfaces have been flattened out with the perspective removed. That little tidbit makes it very easy to go and later touch these up, by the way, with Paint or Clone tools, and finally a composition called BuildingTest.vpe.
Now in my composition I have a number of individual layers, again, representing each of those rectangles I define, and again I want to emphasize by double-clicking on one, they've had their perspective removed, they are now flat views on these model pieces. There are some of those edges, overhang, and then the larger surfaces of the wall. You'll notice that all of these have been Parented to one Null Object called Parent. I'll go back to my Composition.
That means if I press par for Rotation, I can rotate just that Null and move all of the model pieces as a whole, same for Shift +S, scaling them down and scaling them up, animating their Position, et cetera. Photoshop also creates a camera for us, already positioned and spaced around the scene. If I type C to bring up my unified Camera tool, right-click to bring up the Orbit tool, you can now see that I can drag this building around and look at it from a 3D perspective.
We can even tilt up on it and see the underside of that overhang. Now, this is pretty cool, and this works particularly well for interiors, where you've got some nice squared off hallways inside the building and for also nice office buildings from the outside. However, I am missing information, and I do have wrong information, such as around these roof edges. Again, you can go ahead and select any one of these pieces. So for this portion of the building use the Paint and Clone tools inside After Effects, or choose Edit>Edit Original, and open these individual pieces back in Photoshop, where you can use its tools, like Content-Aware Fill, the Clone Stamp tool, et cetera, to go ahead and extend out these pieces or repair problems, such as along the edge of this roof.
So that's the basics of Vanishing Point Exchange. I know a lot of people got excited about this, because they thought of it as a way of creating virtual sets. And that is true, but don't expect miracles, it's not perfect. It will work in a pinch, it will certainly work for low budget stuff, or visualization, or web sites, but I wouldn't rely on this for my next multimillion dollar blockbuster.
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