After Effects | Animating Scene

Today in Sara’s tutorial we created an animated scene using Z Space. In preparation for today’s tutorial we were asked to create a scene on Illustrator. We were also instructed to bring a range of textures which can be applied to our shapes. It didn’t matter what was in the scene as long as it used 6-8 layers of shape/imagery. It was important to keep them separate so that they are dimensional. As well as separate layers, we were instructed to use separate colours. This makes it easy to identify each shape. I decided to create a sunset desert scene including scenery such as a mountain and cactus’s.

Firstly we needed to set up our After Effects document. It was important that the canvas was the same size as that in Illustrator so that the imagery extended off the page. With this done, we then imported the Illustrator file into After Effects along with all the separate layers. By adding the layers into the timeline, we began by creating a null object. This allows you to attach your layers to the bull object using the parent feature. Null objects are just marker with a position, rotation and scale that you can place in your scene either as a 2D or 3D layers.

Next we had to prep our layers for 3D. This used the quality switch, which causes After Effects to rasterize vector layers for each frame and improve image quality. As well as this, it increases the time required for previewing and rendering- which is something to bear in mind. The line button, also changes the quality of the image. We then looked at the view option. By default, it is on active camera – view 1. You can view 3D layers from any angle and distance using camera layers, this is good for composition. We changed the camera to a two node and set it to 50mm- standard setting. Cameras only affect 3D layers and 2D layers with an effect have a comp camera attribute. This is useful for when importing work from other software such as Photoshop.

At this stage, my imagery had changed in scale and the layers were not working together very well. Sara advised to not alter anything just yet, and instead move onto creating the animation so that scale and position can be tweaked afterwards. To change the position of the camera we used the z dimension, this was useful for when wanting to zoom in. I arranged it so that the beginning of my animation would be zoomed in and gradually zoom out. Our layers had to be positioned so that the camera touches the furthest object on the key frame and the front on the last. We were advised to spread the layers out from the view of the camera so it looks more 3D.

With the camera added and the basic animation complete, we scaled and adjusted our layers so that they were best viewed. I had to ensure my layers were stretched out otherwise it would show the black background. It was difficult to scale each layer and still maintain the correct viewing from different timescales as the camera is animated to zoom in. However, after some time I managed to get to a stage where I was happy. The next part of the tutorial was to incorporate textures. I had already gather images therefore was easily imported. The textures were added to the layers by precomposing. I decided not to texture every layer because it looked a little overwhelming.

For the final touch, Sara showed us how to add a page turn effect. By doing this, it allows certain layers to fold up and appear onto the screen- adding another element of animation to the scene. I decided that my scene wouldn’t benefit from too much of the page turn effect; therefore I simply applied it to one layer which was my largest cactus image. I found this tutorial quite challenging because it is something I have never done before, and After Effects doesn’t come easy to me. However I am quite happy with what I managed to achieve in the session.

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