Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a rack focus, part of Motion Control 3D: Bringing Photos to Life in Three Dimensions with After Effects and Photoshop CC.
- If you'd like to add a rack focus to a shot you could do it a couple of ways. You could apply a filter or you could actually keyframe camera controls to be more precise. Let's set the view here and see a bit more of the shot. I'll pull this over as well so I have a bit more real estate. If I'd like to do this globally one way to do that is to add a new adjustment layer. On that adjustment layer, you can apply from the blur category the camera lens blur.
The camera lens blur makes it pretty easy to tweak things. For example, I can just adjust the overall blur of the shot. This would work well if I wanted to just do a simple global change by keyframing blur radius you could simply go from out of focus to in focus. While you're there as well you see that that smoothly transitions between the two values.
You can also lower things so that the threshold is much lower. This'll cause bright areas to start to bloom as you see here. As the keyframing changes for this camera lens blur it goes from a bloomed, blown out shot and then begins to sharpen up and reveal. This is useful if you want to use a heavy blur as a transition or make it seem like the focus was soft and then the picture became clear.
You'll note here that this effect here is pretty intense as you built it but it does produce very photorealistic results. Once the filter is done, the rest of the camera movement will render much more quickly. You may wanna keyframe, though, the highlight controls so the other areas don't bloom once the shot goes back to focused. But still, it's pretty good results there.
And that would work quite effectively if I was going to do a dissolve transition into this shot and I wanted it to be a bit soft at the beginning of the shot. Let's delete that adjustment layer for now and try it with the camera controls. Earlier you learned about using focus distance. In this particular case, I can tweak things a bit. Let's pan it so that the point of interest is a bit more over to the left on the tent. And I'd like to start by having the tent be in focus and our subject be out of focus.
So, I'll adjust the focus distance so it sits on the tent. And you see our subject falls off a bit. Remember, by double clicking on the camera you can lower the F stop if needed and bump up the blur level. This'll make that exaggeration in what's in focus and what's not in focus more pronounced. In this case, I set it to a very shallow depth of field with an aperture of 1.0 and I artificially boosted the blur.
Now, we start with the tent in focus. Then as the camera begins to move back I'll quickly pull focus so that it lands back on our subjects. That works quite well. Additionally, you can keyframe aperture as well. There we go.
Let's double click on the camera and I'll set this to 2. In the real world, if you changed aperture the amount of light coming into the camera would be affected. But in this case, because I haven't added any 3D lights into the scene, and I'm not working with that type of fall off the controls of the camera just use aperture for really a shallow depth of field. You can actually go in and keyframe this so the depth of field can increase or decrease like any other keyframe property or you can animate the position of that focus distance.
Or if you'd like combine both as I did here. Now, let's preview this. You'll see that it starts with the tent in focus and very shallow depth of field. I'll press U for user added keyframes. Then as it pulls back the aperture of the camera gets smaller, increasing the depth of field. Plus the focus distance lands right on our subjects and then continues to follow for the rest of the scene.
If we preview that, I've created a rack focus from a background object to a foreground object and After Effects does a great job or smoothly interpolating or tweening between the two values. That looks pretty good. I just need to do a subtle refinement. Notice I have a slight overshoot on the left-hand edge here and that's why we always do previews. So, I'll just tweak my point of interest, frame that up a little bit better, reinvoke the RAM preview, and the shot will rebuild and show me my results.
- Understanding parallax
- Choosing the best photos
- Identifying planes
- Timing the move
- Using Quick Selection, Quick Mask, and Refine Edge to create layers
- Cleaning up the composite with the healing tools
- Adding a 3D camera to your scene
- Setting the depth and size of your composition
- Animating the camera
- Adding depth of field and bokeh blur
- Setting ambient and directional light
- Adding depth with particles
- Mixing in video footage
- Creating perspective with Vanishing Point