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Working in 3D

From: After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

Video: Working in 3D

I think way too many of us are spoiled by just how cool 3D space, lights, and cameras are in After Effects. And even though those features have been around for quite a while now, it seems like you can never have too much control when it comes to moving things around in 3D space. In this project, we're actually going to duplicate a bunch of these different paint stroke elements and reposition them in three-dimensional space. And when we do that, we're going to become very familiar with these two pulldown menus right here: the Select View layout and the Active Camera layout.

Working in 3D

I think way too many of us are spoiled by just how cool 3D space, lights, and cameras are in After Effects. And even though those features have been around for quite a while now, it seems like you can never have too much control when it comes to moving things around in 3D space. In this project, we're actually going to duplicate a bunch of these different paint stroke elements and reposition them in three-dimensional space. And when we do that, we're going to become very familiar with these two pulldown menus right here: the Select View layout and the Active Camera layout.

Now there are some keyboard shortcuts that you're actually going to probably want to use, and to show you those, let's go up to the View menu and go down to Switch 3D View. And you'll notice F10, F11, and F12 actually are keys that are tied to switching these individual 3D views. And if you look here, you can assign different shortcuts to switch between the views. Now if you're on a Mac, Apple has special keyboards that have multiple functions tied to these specific keys.

So in order to fix that issue, what you need to do is go up under the Apple menu and go to your System Preferences. The first place I want you to go is Expose & Spaces, because by default F10, F11, and F12 are set up to make changes in Expose. So go ahead and click on each pulldown that has an F key assigned to it and make sure that there is nothing selected, so you have these dashes, okay? And then go back to Show All and go under the Keyboard settings, and this will help with laptops as well.

Make sure to select Use all F1, F2, et cetera, keys as standard function keys. This way you won't have to use the Function key on your keyboard to actually initiate each one of these F keys. Now with those settings actually set, we can quit System Preferences. And now go ahead and make sure your Viewer is selected, and I just want you to press F10, and you should notice that the view switch to the front view, and if I press F11, it switches to custom view and F12, it switches to my active camera.

I find I use those key commands quite often. Sometimes you will want to actually have different views applied to different keys, so most of the time I leave F12 set to the active camera, and I leave F11 to this custom view because I like how I can actually see how these layers have a three-dimensional space from a slightly offset angle. But a lot of times I'll remap F10. So right now, it's set up for the front view. What I want to do is actually change this to the top view.

So if we go and change the pulldown to Top and go up under the View menu, we can go to Assign Shortcut to Top and see Replace Front. Now when we go ahead and select that, now if I press F11, we go to custom view, and when I press F10 it goes to the top view. I like the top view when I'm positioning elements in three-dimensional space because I can actually see where they are offset on the Z axis. But a lot of times just having one window in the viewer opened isn't quite enough. What you'll need to do is go over here and change to 2 Views.

Now I'm going to choose 2 Views - Horizontal, because I have more space horizontally than vertically. Sometimes you will want to use 2 Views - Vertical. Feel free to click around and see the different view options that you have. But with more than one view up, what you want to do is look for these yellow triangles in the corners of each one of these different views. That way you'll know exactly which view you have selected. So, for example, if I select the right view here and press F12, I can switch back to the active camera.

Now when I move my camera around the scene--here, let me use my scroll wheel to zoom out here a little bit, and I'll move till I get the Z axis there-- now as I move my camera around the scene, not only can I reposition it in three-dimensional space, but I can see exactly what's going on over here in real time as well. Another quick easy way to switch between these views is to actually just place your mouse over top of the pulldown menu and use your scroll wheel. If you use your scroll wheel, it will actually scroll between each of the different options as you scroll up and down.

So this is a nice, easy, fast way of switching between the views here. Now that we understand how to view objects in the scene, let's go ahead and position some objects in the scene. First thing, let's duplicate these paint stroke layers. So select layer 3, hold down Shift, and select layer 6, and press Command+D or Ctrl+D. Now, we've created a duplicate of all these layers. Since I want all these layers to be in a group, I'll just click on the topmost layer and just drag it up a little bit, till I get that black line that appears just above layer 3, and when you let go, that will snap all the layers together in one solid group.

Now, if you press R, it will open the Rotation property for all of the layers that you have selected. If we want to flip these so they're actually laying flat in the scene, all we have to do is click and drag on the X parameter for the orientation. And you notice now I'm flattening out these layers. And if we rotate around to 90 degrees here, all these layers are now facing the bottom of our scene. Now to reposition these layers, since they're all selected, all we have to do is just click on any one of the axis handles-- I'm going to click on the Z axis handle--and drag up to position these objects up in the scene.

Now, when the camera flies into the scene, I can rotate the camera up and then start flying through the layers that are up in the top of the scene. So that's one way of positioning elements in a three-dimensional scene. Just to show you exactly how this looks a little bit better, I'll go ahead and select the left side of my viewer here and switch my view to a Custom View 1 here, and you can see now I have the layers positioned directly over top of the previous layers. When you have multiple layers selected-- I'm just going to go ahead and reselect these layers here and open up my Rotation parameter again-- one of the things you may notice is the fact that each object rotates around its own orientation.

Sometimes you will want to actually just rotate all the objects as a group. I'll just press U to collapse all the parameters here. Now, the easiest way to do that is to actually parent all these layers to a null object. So go up under Layer and choose New > Null Object, and let's rename Null 1, Control Group, okay? And we'll duplicate this second group of paint strokes one more time, so Command+D or Ctrl+D, and we'll just move those up above the camera and then go ahead and click on the parent pick whip and choose Control Group.

Now when we go ahead and select the Control Group null object and open its Rotation parameter, notice all the objects are rotating as one solid object. Since I don't have this null object as a three-dimensional object, I'm not getting multiple options for rotation. So you might want to open that up there, and that way you can actually rotate on the X or the Y or what have you. I want to go ahead and rotate on the X again, and we'll just rotate this back around 270 degrees here. And just so the camera doesn't have extra depth here, let's go ahead and just move these objects up in the scene by clicking on the Z control axis, and just move them up out of the way of the camera.

This way when we fly our camera into the first group of layers, then we can fly it into the next group of layers and then back over into our last group of paint strokes. Let's go ahead and select the left view in the viewer and press the C key twice to grab the Orbit Around tool. Now as we click around, we can see exactly how the layers are oriented in three-dimensional space, and I think this is actually looking kind of cool. So I think we're pretty good, as far as positioning layers within the scene.

Now that the scene looks good, we can go ahead and just grab our Selection tool, save the project, and we're good to go. Even though we know some tips and tricks to navigating and positioning objects in 3D space, I hope you enjoy moving around in your new virtual world. Once you've got your bearings, working in 3D space can get much more exciting.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

60 video lessons · 22825 viewers

Ian Robinson
Author

 
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  1. 3m 37s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
    3. Defining motion graphics
      1m 32s
  2. 11m 11s
    1. Workflow for creating motion graphics
      5m 7s
    2. Organizing projects for motion graphics
      4m 25s
    3. Defining a motion graphics "package"
      1m 39s
  3. 12m 58s
    1. Collecting visual inspiration
      2m 14s
    2. Listening to imagine
      3m 20s
    3. Creating elements for inspiration
      7m 24s
  4. 33m 4s
    1. Essential theories of typography
      6m 34s
    2. Understanding shortcuts for setting type in AE
      7m 27s
    3. Converting type from Photoshop
      5m 51s
    4. Importing type from illustrator
      9m 44s
    5. Creating shapes from text
      3m 28s
  5. 36m 30s
    1. Understanding the role of timing in motion graphics
      8m 1s
    2. Creating and using markers
      7m 58s
    3. Creating animation with markers
      5m 16s
    4. Using audio to create animated graphics
      5m 47s
    5. Editing techniques for graphics and video
      9m 28s
  6. 49m 27s
    1. Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects
      15m 53s
    2. Using animators with type
      7m 59s
    3. Using type presets
      7m 35s
    4. Creating custom type presets
      4m 35s
    5. Animating paragraph type
      13m 25s
  7. 45m 51s
    1. Exploring the use of color in motion graphics
      10m 40s
    2. Creating and using color palettes
      13m 45s
    3. Exploring color correction tools in AE
      6m 46s
    4. Advanced correction with Color Finesse
      8m 30s
    5. Creating custom color presets
      6m 10s
  8. 59m 6s
    1. Exploring textures in motion graphics
      8m 30s
    2. Building an animated background texture
      16m 48s
    3. Creating textures for type
      10m 19s
    4. Animating seamless textures
      15m 1s
    5. Creating custom vignettes
      8m 28s
  9. 38m 25s
    1. Understanding lighting in After Effects
      12m 57s
    2. Intro to lighting techniques
      5m 17s
    3. Using material settings to enhance lighting
      7m 36s
    4. Adding polish to a light setup
      12m 35s
  10. 50m 32s
    1. Animating swoops and swooshes
      12m 37s
    2. Creating repeating light trails with the Vegas effect
      6m 28s
    3. Repeating patterns with shape layers
      8m 11s
    4. Exploring graphic transitions
      10m 37s
    5. Exploring video transitions
      5m 16s
    6. Adding dynamic elements to a video transition
      7m 23s
  11. 22m 23s
    1. Working in 3D
      8m 36s
    2. Rigging cameras for animation
      8m 45s
    3. Working with depth of field
      5m 2s
  12. 50m 54s
    1. Creating storyboards in After Effects
      10m 20s
    2. Creating an animatic
      18m 14s
    3. Polishing the animation and timing
      8m 45s
    4. Applying the final effects
      13m 35s
  13. 47m 53s
    1. Preparing a map for animation
      7m 59s
    2. Animating and styling a map
      8m 24s
    3. Designing a lower-third graphic
      8m 22s
    4. Adding animation to the lower-third graphic
      9m 10s
    5. Creating bumper animations
      13m 58s
  14. 14m 17s
    1. Defining the toolkit
      2m 2s
    2. Preparing templates
      7m 12s
    3. Creating a style guide
      5m 3s
  15. 1m 3s
    1. Next Steps
      1m 3s

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