Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Using 3D cameras with storyboards, part of Motion Graphics for Video Editors: Working with Storyboards.
- Alright, I am gonna show you something in After Effects that's really quite useful. Now, maybe as a child, you made a diorama in a shoe box. Remember the idea of have a box with some depth, and then you put in different layers at different depths. Maybe you pasted a photo in the background, and then you put a few cutouts in front of it. Well, this depth creates the effect of parallax when you add movement. Here at Lynda.com, we have a course called Motion Control 3D and we bring photos to life. Well, it's a similar technique.
By spacing things out in three dimensions, we create some actual depth, creating essentially a realistic scene. Now the objects in the scene don't have true depth, but they do have distance between them. This makes it easy to create relatively complex movement. I'm gonna show you a pretty straight forward example, but I want you to remember that if you are completely new to After Effects, don't worry about it. Just watch and put this in the back of your brain as something that's possible, but if you're comfortable in After Effects, you might not have ever thought of using a bunch of 3D camera moves on a flat layered file, but you could really do some very cool things.
Let's take a look at a pretty simple scene, but make it a but more elaborate. You'll remember earlier we cut things out into separate layers. I'm gonna take the text here and connect that to the sign. Remember, if you bring in a Photoshop layered file, and you have the font loaded, you could choose layer, convert to editable text if you want to keep that text live and able to be modified inside of After Effects. I'll connect that with the parent to the sign, but what I want to do is rebuild this scene a little bit.
To start, let's make a new background layer. I'll turn on just this background and choose Layer, New, Solid, and we'll select that blue sky and click OK. That'll be our sky layer. And then we need a grass layer. So there it is, Layer, New, Solid, and we'll select the grass and click OK and press Grass.
What I'm gonna do now is split these up into 3D space a bit. So from the Switches column, I'm gonna click the cube icon here, and make all of these 3D layers. Now, we can start to move things around a bit. To start, let's select the sky and push that further back, p for position, and you'll note once the cube icon is selected, you get the ability to move things along the z axis closer or further away from the camera. I'll push that back a bit and then scale this up so it fills the frame.
Now I've got that grass layer and what I'm gonna do here is rotate this, so r for rotation and we'll adjust the initial orientation. You see, we can rotate it there on the y-axis or on the x-axis. In this case, flipping it down so we actually get a floor, and I'll just grab that and pull it down to the bottom and press s for scale. Well, what we've done is we've actually created a bit of an environment, and if you take a look at the sign that seems to be floating in there, we've built an actual little scene.
So now, if I choose to add a 3D camera, Layer, New, Camera, that camera can move. You'll note that you'll find several presets that match traditional sensors and lenses. So let's set this to a 28mm lens, so it's a bit of a wider angle, click OK, and you might need to tweak the size of some of those background layers. That looks pretty good there. And now with my camera selected, I can animate it. You'll note that the camera has its own transform properties including Position and Point of Interest.
So, I can rotate this so that the camera swings a little bit to the left and pan a little bit over. So we start at the left edge of the frame here, there we go, and then move forward and have the camera swing to the right and pan backwards. Now you'll note as you do these sorts of movements, this might be easier to see if you take a look at 2 Views.
Now, on the left here, I'm seeing from above. Let's zoom in a little bit and you see your camera. There's the camera movement moving through the scene, across the front of that sign, giving us a sense of panning or camera dollying. This case, it's doing an active move, so the camera would physically be tracking to the right. That looks pretty good. I'm just gonna swing that a little bit more over, and adjust the Point of Interest of where it's looking.
That looks pretty good. And remember, those background layers, like the grass and the sky, if needed, can easily be scaled up and moved around just by grabbing the handles. That looks pretty good there. We'll just make the sky a little bigger, good. If you need to nudge the grass, use its anchor point, and you can nudge it to the side. So, there's our starting point, not to bad.
S for scale, and I'm just gonna scale the grass up a little bit more. Get a little bigger. Note, you can ungang the chain if you just want to scale along one axis. So there, I'm scaling the x and y-axis independently, making it a little wider. And let's have a look. Cool, we've simulated a 3D camera movement to give the director of photography as well as the client a better idea of the type of camera move.
You'll note that you can see that camera move when you choose the 2 Views and we're looking down. Besides looking from the top, you might find it useful to look at Custom View 1, which gives you sort of a three quarter view, gives you a good idea of the movement of the camera and you can see it there as we look down on the scene. Remember that camera control is pretty versatile, so if you take a look at the camera control, let's just twirl this down and see the key frames, you'll note that besides Position and Point of Interest, under Camera Options, you also have Zoom, so I could start wide, move to the next key frame up there.
Let's just go right there to the previous key frame. And punch in a little bit to zoom in on the words. Preview that, and you get a good idea of what the movement looks like. So, pretty cool. Using that 3D camera can really be useful as you try to finesse your shots and work out your timing. Feel free to explore the options of tweaking where those key frames fall. In this case, I slowed down the zoom a little bit, so the camera completes its move, but then continues to push in on the sign itself.
This will give you all sorts of flexibility to visualize the type of camera movement you want to use in the final production.
- Creating storyboards
- Scanning sketches
- Drawing with tablets
- Coloring and cleaning up storyboards
- Creating animatic shots in After Effects
- Using 3D cameras with storyboards
- Editing an animatic assembly
- Exporting an animatic for client review