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In this course,, visual effects guru Mark Christiansen covers the relevant new features of After Effects CS5.5, including the new Warp Stabilizer, 3D Stereoscopic workflow, and Lens Effects tools. The course also covers light falloff enhancements and workflow improvements in this release.
You might be wondering how the After Effects stereo workflow integrates existing 3D footage. Although setting up a scene with 3D footage is not quite as automatic as it is with a graphics only project, like the one we've been looking at, there are just a couple of extra steps involved to get your footage interactively into this pipeline. This time around I am beginning with a title animation I am going to place over some footage that says This Is STEREO. And I don't even have a camera in this comp, but that's okay.
The workflow will create one for me, if I just choose Layer > Camera > Create Stereo 3D Rig. So here we aren't seeing the title just yet because it hasn't come in yet. And to my eye that's going to be difficult to resolve without that far part. But the reason for that is the scene is not yet converged. Right now it's showing us the parallel output and so it will look better instantly if I just twirled on Convergence Options and enable Converge Cameras.
Okay, so that's a great starting point. Now let's bring in the footage. To do that, I am going to work one at a time of course. I have this great footage of a train and so I'll start with the Left channel, pop that in the Left Eye, and move the Right channel into the Right Eye. For the moment I am just leaving these as 2D and let's take a look at the result. Now I have the footage and the title together. Any changes I make to say the Z Offset, etc, right now only apply to the title.
In fact, the only changes that I can make that would apply to the footage are those in the 3D Glasses effect, which is really just for previewing. So I could change the overall scene convergence but that doesn't help me so much. I would like to make that train better resolved. Right now it looks way to separate in the background. Without affecting the title. And I would like to do it from right here where I can preview it. To do that, I need to wire up a new control and link to it with expressions. Now expressions make some people a little nervous.
But I am going to walk you through this one and it's pretty darn simple. I'll right click in the Effect Controls and under Expression Controls choose Slider Control. I am just going to rename this and I can leave it just as it is. I'll lock this panel so that when I go to the Left Eye comp to begin it's still forward. I'll make this layer 3D and you see a slight shift. Now I'll reveal the Position controls for that layer. I am going to make an expression that links to the slider from here. So first I'll separate its dimensions into three because I am only interested in affecting the X position.
To create a new expression, I'll Option+Click on the stopwatch-- that would be an Alt+Click on Windows-- and place my cursor right after the default expression. To the existing Position value of 640, following a plus sign to add, I'll use the pickwhip to link to the Slider control under Footage Convergence and that gives me all of this default text that I would never want to have to type. Then I am going to divide that by the width of the comp and multiply that by 100, and that just converts the value to percentage.
I'll copy this, but before I leave this particular comp there's one more slider I would like to set up. So actually I'll have to go back to this comp to do that. I'll create another Slider Control because I think I am going to want to be able to affect the scale of the footage as well just in case I have to move it around. This one I am going to set to 100 and then back here in the Left Eye I'll reveal Scale, set an expression for that on all three axes this time, and just pickwhip straight to that slider.
Right now nothing changes. It's still at 100 for all values. I am just going to propagate those same settings on the Right Eye with one difference. Under Position I will still want this to be 3D and I will still want it to be Separate Dimensions. I'll set the expression for X and remember I copied the other expression. I can just paste it right in here. The only difference is instead of adding I need to subtract the offset in this case to send it in the other direction.
And then of course I would like that same Scale expression as well, so I'll just pickwhip right up to that property again. All right, now I am ready to adjust the footage right here where I can preview it. So 3D glasses on, unless of course you find it just too difficult to work with UI with them on, as I sometimes do. And under the Stereo Controls let's first work with that Footage Convergence. So I would like the train to be basically converged. I think that's looking a lot better.
The first thing I would like the fix is those bands at the edge of frame and that's where this Scale slider comes in handy. I can just scale it up just enough to get rid of them. Great! Looking at this, it's looking pretty darn good and I will preview the whole thing in motion in a moment. The one thing that doesn't resolve are those red stripes on that gate. And that's simply because they're red and I am looking at them through red and blue glasses. Now remember I do have other views and they do resolve better in this monochrome Balance Red Blue LR view.
If all you've got are the red/blue glasses but you're actually outputting to something more sophisticated, this is a great way to just check the stereo, because it looks very good and I can really see what's going on now. If you're working in anaglyph, then you might need to change the red color of something so prominent as those stripes to something else. Let's take a look at the whole scene. (Music playing. Train horn blows.) So now we have a scene that's working pretty well through my 3D glasses.
Now of course, I can continue adding graphics to the source comp and continue making tweaks here in the master comp until I have what I consider a finished product. On the whole, although there aren't a lot of frills with this pipeline, After Effects can help preview and control a scene including those that integrate stereo 3D footage along with graphics.
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