Streamline Your Workflow with Adobe's New 3D Tools in After Effects
Ae 3d Tools Feature.jpg

Often times, you will find that updates to After Effects bring hyped and unnecessary new features. This is certainly not the case with the latest update. Adobe recently revamped AE's 3D workspace and introduced new tools that can be used to optimize workflows. These new features make life easier for advanced users and beginners to learn 3D more easily than ever.

Let's take a closer look at that.

Control levels with the new gizmo

To enter the wonderful world of 3D in After Effects, you must first set your layers to 3D. It's as simple as activating the 3D switch on a layer in the sequence. If you can't see the switch, press the button Toggle switches / modes Button at the bottom of the control panel. Once a layer is activated, you'll notice a fancy new layer control tool in the composition. This is called this Gizmo.

Start by setting your layers to 3D.

This nifty new gizmo puts you in complete control of your level right in the comp area. Fast change rotation, position, and frame Parameters by manipulating the various forms of the gizmos. Each axis has its own color: Z. is blue, Y. is green, and X. is red. The arrows change their position, the circles change their rotation, and the squares change their scale.

Edit layers Change rotation, position, and scale by changing the shapes of the gizmo.

If you do most of your work in a particular parameter, you can customize the gizmo to show only that parameter. If you're doing detailed work and need your layers in specific areas of your composition, check out the new tooltips. When editing the gizmos of a layer, these tooltips show pixel spacing, coordinates, and other important information.

Now that you know how to edit layers, let's look at how to move through 3D space.

Navigate in 3D space (without camera plane)

Once a layer's switch is set to 3D, you will find that three new navigation tools are available in the toolbar. These include orbit, pan, and Dolly Tools, each of which has variations. These tools can react in relation to the cursor, the composition, or the point of interest of a camera.

Navigation tools Three new navigation tools are available in the toolbar: Orbit, Pan and Dolly.

Use the keyboard Keyboard shortcuts 1, 2, and 3 to quickly jump between these three tools. Or simply switch with the C key. As you find your way around 3D space, I find it helpful to change the composition to show two angles. Go to View> Change view layout> 2 views. Indicate each camera angle above View> Switch 3D view.

3D tools Switch the composition so that two angles are displayed.

The coolest thing about these new navigation tools is that you don't have to create a camera layer to use them. After Effects allows users to fly through space with the standard camera. When you've found an angle you like and you're ready to animate, go to View> Create camera from 3D view.

Camera view Go to View> Create camera from 3D view start the animation.

Animate a camera

With my new camera, I'm ready to animate a movement. With the new navigation tools, I can quickly isolate layers and place the camera exactly where I want it.

In this scene, for example, an airplane flies over a map. The plane is almost 700 pixels closer to the camera in Z-space. I can easily jump between focusing on the camera or the card by using the Orbit around the cursor, Pan under cursor, and Dolly to the cursor Tools. Too fast choose the planeI just place those Cursor over this level. Or to zoom in to a specific point of mapI will place that Cursor over this area and use Dolly to the cursor.

orientation Isolate layers and put the camera exactly where you want it.

In addition to controlling the camera's angle of view, I can also control the camera using my layer's new gizmo controls. I grab this Z rotation my camera layer to quickly add one Dutch angular movement to my animation. This is especially easy if you are looking at your composition from two angles.

Work fast

Adobe added a few final touches to make the 3D experience extra smooth.

activate 3D design Mode to harness the power of the Real-time rendering engine to speed things up. After activation, you can activate the function 3D ground plane. You have probably seen this in other popular apps like Blender and Cinema 4D. If you're working on a particularly complicated project, this can help avoid losing a plane in a Z-axis wormhole.

3D design Turn on Draft 3D to speed up your work.

These new tools make it incredibly easy to get up and running in an After Effects 3D environment. So what are you waiting for? Animate something!

Would you like to hear the music that was used to create this tutorial? Listen!

For more animation tips, tricks, and advice, see the following articles:


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