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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.
A lot of times when I'm working with 3D motion graphics, which is this scene right here we have layered in 3D space, it's often kind of difficult to use a camera. It's unwieldy. It's a little bit challenging. It often doesn't get me the results I'm looking for. So, what I do instead is I like to create something like a null object that is the parent of the 3D layers. I find oftentimes that that is much easier to control. So, here is what we're going to do. We're going to create a null object to be the parent of these 3D layers.
So, I'm going to right-click in this blank area here in the Timeline to get this New menu. I'm going to create a new null object. A null object, as the name implies, the word null means nothing. So a null object is really a nothing object. There is nothing here, just a blank layer. This little red square is the null object, but it won't render. It's just is this little like red box for preview purposes only. We can still use the Null if we take off its visibility by clicking the eye icon, but again it will not render.
So, this dummy layer we can use as a controller to control these other layers. I'm going to select layer 3, the Rock Logo. I'm going to scroll down and Shift+Click layer 16. That will select all of our 3D layers. Then what we're going to do is parent all of these layers to the null object. We could do that by using the pick whip, or we could use the dropdown, which we didn't talk about in the last movie. But if you use the dropdown, we'll see all of our layers. We could just go to the top and make the Null one the parent. Because all of these layers are selected, they will all become the children of the null object we've created.
Now I need to make the null object three- dimensional, so I can move it in 3D space. I'm going to press R for rotation. When we make a layer 3D, it's no longer just Rotation. We have Orientation and then X, Y, Z Rotation as all separate properties. I want to adjust Y Rotation and watch this. Because all of these layers are parented to the Null object, as we rotate the Null object, all of these other layers rotate as well. So, we could then adjust X Rotation or Z Rotation if we wanted to.
All these layers are following the Null object. Again, it doesn't have the power and flexibility of a camera, but sometimes a camera can be a little bit unmanageable. It's just too much going on. It's not as easy to pilot and control especially for simple projects like this. So, a lot of times, again, I'll prefer to use a Null object for that.
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