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T354 - Week 9 - Spring 2015


  • Review homework
  • 3D layers and cameras

Will cover simulated perspective, 3D space and cameras. After spring break will get into lights.


AE 3D Space

(Meyer chapters 13 & 14)

Think of three-dimensional space in terms of X, Y & Z:

X= left to right
Y= up and down
Z= towards the camera

In the AE timeline, you can give almost any layer 3D characteristics by turning on the 3D switch. (It’s the little box icon)

Remember that layers are really still flat- we’re just looking at them and can manipulate them in 3D space.


Active camera is the perspective view from the primary camera

Orthographic views don’t show perspective. They are as seen from the 6 sides of a box. These include:

  • front
  • left
  • right
  • top
  • back
  • bottom

Use the camera view to move these views around. This doesn’t create keyframes or disturb your composition in any way.

The "Orbit Camera" (keyboard shortcut = C) is useful for moving your view around so you can see various parts of your 3D space. It does not affect your comp- just what you see,

This is a useful tool for moving the image around, just so you can see it.

Custom views show perspective

Demonstrate moving a 3D layer in space


Cameras in AE only interact with 3D layers. They see regular layers- but they simply don’t have any 3D characteristics.

The Meyer book makes a good point: It’s fine to have cameras, which are stationary along with moving layers. It’s also fine to have stationary 3D layers and move the camera between them. But if you move both camera and layer, you are asking for trouble. This is best left up to the very experienced motion graphic artist who is looking for a specific “look.”

One note about Precomps: You need to have the “Collapse Transformations” box checked on pre-comps in order for cameras to see them.

AE has a default camera, which uses what might be considered a 50mm lens

You can add any number of cameras above this one. The camera highest in the layer stack will be active. And you can cut from camera to camera.

Let’s add a camera and explore the settings

Before getting into 3D layers, it's good to understand a few layer tricks you can do to simulate depth and perspective.

Perspective can be simulated by creating multiple layers, which move similarly to each other but at different speeds. Varying sizes can also get across the feeling of depth.

Krista Detor CD Chocolate Paper Suites open

2-part in class exercise (simulated and real 3D):

Build a 1280 x 720 HD comp that has at least three layers that simulate depth using a tracking or dolly shot. For example you could have:

Play with simply animating each layers left-right position values. Over a 10-second  period, move the rear layer a very small amount. Move the middle layer a bit more. Move the top (closest) layer an even greater amount.

Make an H.264 movie called 2d.mov and place it into your Week9 folder.

Now take all three layers and turn them into 3D layers.

Reposition the layers in 3D space (depth)

Instead of animating their position, make a camera and animate a move to get a similar effect.

Make a square pixel H.264 movie called 3D and place it into your week9 folder.


AE Tip: You can replace footage in a comp by first, selecting the layer and then option-dragging your replacement footage over the layer's name field.

Presidential Portraits

In-class 3D "Rotating Postcard" Exercise

The purpose of this exercise is to give you practice working in 3D space and to make sure students understand how to copy layers and keyframes and how to replace footage.

  • Find 4 images that are roughly the same size and aspect ratio (E.g. 4 portraits)
  • Start out with a 1280 x 720 comp
  • Import one of the images into the composition and make it a 3D layer
  • Using 3D Position keyframes, make it cycle through 4 different positions
  • Duplicate the layer 3 times (so you have 4 of these rotating 3D layers)
  • Stagger the layers uniformly in time (Hint: try aligning the layer's starting time to coincide with some of the 3D position keyframes).
  • Can you figure a way to replace the existing layers with different images?
  • Make sure the layers don't overlap when they cross.
  • Render out a full-size, H.264 called "postcard" and place it in your week 9 folder.


  • Read Meyer, chapter 15 (lights)
  • Make a widescreen, 15-second promo or opening for a fictitious TV show, cause, or event. Please use a topic or theme you have never used before. It must have:
    • A sense of depth (brownie points if you can set up a tasteful rack focus)
    • at least 2 3D layers
    • Use at least 1 camera move
    • Turn in a full-size H.264 square pixel version
    • Be sure to turn in an accompanying critique form that states how you achieved depth, used the 3D layers, and animated the camera move.

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