Join Chris Meyer for an in-depth discussion in this video Per-character 3D overview, part of After Effects Apprentice 06: Type and Music.
In this movie, I'll cover the concept of working with Per-character 3D. This allows text animators to work in three dimensions: X, Y, and Z. Now, up to now, we've been working only in 2D space. In this earlier example, characters dropped down into position because we offset the position Y value. We could have also offset its X value. Once we start working in 3D space, we'll have a third value called Z, and that would allow us to move characters forwards and backwards.
Now we also added rotation to this example, but we can only animate rotation along one axis. This is actually the Z axis. But once the characters are animating in 3D space, they'll be able to tumble and spin in all directions. If you have the exercise files, go ahead and open example 06-3D Position_final. If you don't have the exercise files, don't worry. We'll be creating this example from scratch in the next movie. Now, when I RAM preview, it might look like characters are scaling, but that's only because we're looking at the text from the front view.
The only way you can appreciate that these characters are moving in 3D space is to look at it from the side. I'll change my view from Active Camera to Custom View 1, and that gives me a bird's-eye view of how the text looks from the top, and from the left. Now, I know we have them covered using a camera and 3D views and so on--we'll be doing that later in the series--but I will encourage you to use a custom view and then to pick the Camera tool and either the Unified Camera tool if you have a three-button mouse, or you can use one of the individual tools.
For instance, Orbit Camera tool will spin the text around to its orbit, a lot of fun. The next tool down, Track XY, does exactly what it says. It tracks the camera left/right, as well as up and down. The final tool, Track Z Camera tool, will zoom the camera closer and further away, and you can cycle through all these tools by pressing C. If you do have a three-button mouse, the Unified Camera tool is very convenient.
Click and drag to use the Orbit Camera tool, right-click to zoom in and out, and middle-click will move left, right, up, and down. If that's all that you learn about 3D in this lesson, that's fine. So now that we're looking at the text from the side, you can see that the characters are moving from the foreground to the background. To help you understand what's going on under the hood, try to think of text as sitting on a plane. We often refer to this as a postcard in space.
It might help you visualize this a little better if I make a solid. Maybe I'll make a solid. Any color will do. That size should be fine, so I'll click OK. And the next thing I'll do is I'll turn on the 3D switch, so it'll now sit in 3D space. I'll move it behind the type. I'll press P for Position. The first two values are X and Y, but now we have a third value--the Z value. By scrubbing the Z value, I can scrub this plane in front of the title or behind the title.
If I select my Text layer and press P for Position, if I scrub its regular transformations, I'm moving the entire layer forwards and backwards. So again, the text is sitting on a plane, but when you enable Per-character 3D for the text animator, the characters are allowed to jump off the plane, and that's the beauty of Per-character 3D. Now, all of the techniques you've learned for text animators up to now--such as the typing on recipe that you see here, the cascading recipe that you also learned, as well as text on a path--can be applied to text that has Per-character 3D enabled.
So in the next movie, we'll build that animation from scratch and we'll follow that with animating rotation in 3D. As before, you can't always appreciate what's going on when you're viewing the animation from the front, so I'll change the Active Camera view to Custom View 1. I still have the Unified Camera tool enabled, so I'll use my middle-button to center and my right-button to zoom in a little. Now, there is a lot of motion blur on here so let me turn off Enable Motion Blur. So once I enable Per-character 3D, I'll be able to rotate text around the X, Y, or Z axis, or a combination of all three.
Now finally, I'll open another movie, 07xtra. In this animation, characters are animating on in a random order. They have a lot of 3D rotation going on. There is an animated camera moving around our scene, and there is a light that's casting a shadow on the colorful background. Now, all of those concepts--animating a camera, adding a light, turning on shadows, and so on--we'll be covering those later in this series when we get to the 3D animation chapter. But I want you to remember that all the tricks you'll be learning in this chapter you'll be able to incorporate into a full 3D world.
Also, the text animation you're seeing here is an animation preset that comes bundled with the program. Later in this installment, I'll show you how to apply text animation presets as well as save presets of your own favorite animations.
The After Effects Apprentice series was created by Trish and Chris Meyer. The tutorials are designed to be used independently and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice.
- The core text animation recipes
- Animating text along a path
- Working with text animation presets
- Timing animation to audio
- Per-character 3D type
- Rendering with an alpha channel
- Making Photoshop type editable in After Effects
- Professional typesetting tips
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 11/20/2012. What changed?
A: We have added four new movies to the end of Chapter 8, "Working With Audio." All four of these movies (Spotting dialog, Timing dialog to music, Mixing audio, and Refinements) apply to all versions covered by the course. In addition, there are new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6 and a companion movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files.