VFX Lesson 05 -3D Space

Before jumping into our logo animations Peter wanted to solidify our understanding of using the 3D space in After Effects. The end goal was to create a box from solid objects in AE, centering the pivot and adding a light. It feels a little amusing to go through a tutorial on this whereas if I was in Maya this would be create new cube, create new spotlight, done! Granted different programs for different purposes.

To begin we set our usual new composition settings and brought a new solid object onto the stage, a square set to 500×500 pixels. We enabled 3D on the layer and then set our camera to ‘Custom View 1’. This granted us something we’d never seen in AE so far, a perspective view with an X,Y,Z translation tool. Ahh, familiar territory!


This layer was then duplicated and renamed three times, using the snap tool these were arranged edge to edge and all the colours changed to make them unique.


To manipulate the box as a whole more easily we would yet again use our old friend the ‘Null Object’ to create a parent/child hierarchy. On this Null we used a new tool ‘Pan Behind (Anchor Point)’ to set the anchor to the centre of the box moving it back 250px in Z axis.

Pan Behind (Anchor Point) tool highlighted in blue.

The last thing to do on the box was create a second Null parented to the first Null. This allowed us to manipulate the entire object without worrying about accidently changing the pivot point.

Finally we used the Object > Create menu to add two spotlights into the scene with default settings. Mainly to demonstrate their existence and illustrate that After Effects still has familiar concepts to ground we’ve already covered in other modules. This did make me feel a little more comfortable with the interface as up until now we’d been trying to manage 3D movement from a single plane of view, if in future I’m ever a little confused as to how my composition is looking I can just switch between cameras.


Later in the lesson we did begin to look at some of the particle simulation systems built into the software. However I’ll post about this later as I’d quite like to record or capture to gif some of the effects to demonstrate them on here.

There was also further discussion on the direction my logo animation will take, after some tips from Peter my source artwork is now being prepped to work in AE. We created a reference image to be used as a background layer which will let us know where the animation will end. The fonts used on my logo were expanded at home as the college computers didn’t have the same fonts installed and next week I’m being shown how to break down the expanded typeface into individual letters so they can be animated individually.



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