Join Alan Demafiles for an in-depth discussion in this video Cameras and lights, part of After Effects CC 2018 Essential Training: Motion Graphics.
- [Instructor] In addition to having 3D layers enabled in a composition, After Effects also gives us the ability to add cameras and lights to our 3D space. When added into a scene that has 3D layers, cameras can frame up the elements in the scene from a much different view, much like the real world. Likewise, lights can illuminate some layers while obscuring others in darkness. Here in this movie, we'll take a look at how adding cameras and lights can bring a new level of depth to our compositions. So here in this composition I've got all 3D layers, and I'm going to create a brand new camera. Let's go down here in this empty space and right click and say New, Camera.
Alternately, you could come up here to Layer, and go to New, Camera as well. Under the Camera Settings we have a couple different options here. The first one of which is the two-node or one-node camera. I'm going to leave it at two-node. The two-node camera creates a camera and a second node called the point of interest, and that acts as a target for the camera to look at. We'll leave everything else as default here and say OK. And so now I want to help myself out here by viewing this scene from a different angle. So let's go ahead and go to two views horizontal here.
You'll see in the right hand view we have Active Camera, and over here in the left we have Front. If you don't have that, go ahead and click in this left hand side and now you can come down here and select Front. Let's go ahead and twirl down the Camera Transforms. And here you see we have point of interest and position. Let's go ahead and click on point of interest and move this up in space. So we'll move it in the Y-direction, and you can see over here, our Active Camera is moving and we have this other little icon here for the point of interest and that's our target.
So let's click and move this around. You can see that our camera is rotating to kind of follow along with that. If we move our position, we can move the camera itself and keep the point of interest stationary. And so this is also showing us that we can get a little bit of a parallax effect just by moving the camera. Let's go ahead and introduce some lights into this scene. Come up here to Layer, go to New, Light.
Under the Light Settings we see that we have the options to select either Parallel, Spot, Point, or Ambient light. I'm going to leave it at Spot for right now, and let's choose a dark blue color, somewhere in here maybe. The intensity I'll leave at 100% and because this is a spot light we have Cone Angle and Cone Feather available to us. Let's go ahead and dial this in at 90 degrees, and the Cone Feather we'll leave at 50. I'm not going to touch Falloff for right now, but what I will do is when I say OK, we can see that the light itself, under the Transforms, it also has a point of interest.
Let's go ahead and click that and move it around. And you can see, just by adding the light, we're already creating a different kind of mood, a different kind of feel into our scene. Let's go ahead and move the position of the light itself out a little bit, so it's not so dark. And you can see that because these layers are all 3D, if we have this position of the light move a little too close or closer to these other 3D layers, you'll see that, alright, we're not getting anything whatsoever. We're getting just a little sliver of light cast onto our 3D layers.
So just by moving and positioning these lights and cameras we can really accentuate or bring out a different kind of feel to our scene. Let's go ahead and set some key frames for our camera. I'm going to come down here to Transform, and at frame zero, let's go ahead and key frame point of interest and position. I'm going to come down to five seconds later, and let's move the position of the X, so that way we're kind of cruising to the right of the screen here. And then let's also move it up in space.
Let's take our point of interest and move it down so we can actually see everything framed up. Let's keep our sun there. And then, under our Light, let's go ahead and take the color, the Light Options, to something a little lighter. I think we overshot that just a tad. There we go. Alright, let's switch this from two view to one view, and we're automatically set to view through the Active Camera, and let's rewind and take a look at what kind of movement we have.
Alright, so that's looking pretty cool. All we've done was added a light and a camera and already we've altered the scene from our default, 2D state. So let's go ahead and take a look at what this looked like before by turning off the light and our camera. And so this is bright and sunny versus when we turn this on, now we're getting a little gloomier. Last thing I wanted to touch on was the types of light that you can create inside of After Effects. So here I have a layer that's my grid paper, and it's serving as a wall in this instance.
And the Point Light, let's go ahead and turn on a Point Light, you can see that it almost acts and behaves like a lone Christmas tree light. When it's close to the layer, it's just one point in space. And so we can actually move this closer and away from our grid paper here and you can see that as we do move away from it, we're getting more and more even light. And as we get closer to it, we're actually concentrating and limiting the pool of light just to that one point.
Another type of light, as we saw before, was the Spot Light. And I just wanted to show you this. As we're close to the source origin of the light, the cone here is much more visible and it's sharper, and just like in the real world, the farther away you get, the softer that cone becomes. We can click and move our point of interest here and make that much more apparent. You can see there that the cone of light is real sharp down here and feathers off into the distance, and it tapers off with the brightness as well.
The Parallel Light is almost like sunlight. You're going to get this even rays of beams, but this is all directional. You can actually move this and move our point of interest around, and you can see that we have kind of this even gradation along our graph paper here. The ambient light is something that is a little bit like our default light. The only different being that we can increase or decrease the intensity and change out the color. If we were to move this back to white and, say, the ambient light at 100, this is almost like our default light.
So here in this movie we saw that by adding a 3D camera, we were able to open up new ways to view our compositions and can also set new tonal moods through the use of lights.
- Working with shape layers and paths
- Animating compositions
- Animating type
- Animating 3D layers
- Creating 3D text and geometry
- Rendering your motion graphics
- Following an effective motion graphic workflow