DAY 009 – Sure Target 2.5D?

With immense frustration, I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around what I thought was true 3D space in After Effects. The moment I want to rotate the camera around any scene that has a Pre-Comp or a specific effect in it, it ends up transforming into a flat plane that only APPEARS to be in 3D space. I’m hoping that there’s something I’m missing (I am wide open to someone far more skilled than me enlightening me on this). But, every time I create a 3D image in something like Trapcode Particular, it gets squashed into 2D space as soon as I make it into a Pre-Comp.

Thanks, once again, though, to Video Copilot’s Sure Target 2 plugin (and tutorial) which brought glimmers of enlightenment and frustration at the same time. As I was discussing this frustration with one of the only motion graphics artists I know at the moment, he told me that After Effects is really a “2.5D” program, not really meant for true 3D modeling and animation. He also informed me that After Effects is just one tool in a workflow to get me where I want to be. I don’t know if I like the sound of that.

In my world of audio, I’ve always had Pro Tools HD, all in once nice, tidy package. I never need to leave it to make anything I want to have happen in relation to audio for any record I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. Synths, samplers, time stretching, 3-dimensional audio space…it’s all handled within Pro Tools or with plugins that work inside of it. With much initial resistance on my part, the drill became recording to my MCI JH-24 analog 2″ machine, then transferring to Pro Tools and never looking back to analog.

But with video production and After Effects, I’m already realizing that much of what I’m really trying to accomplish may require several, if not MANY different pieces of software: I need Photoshop to do my “PreViz” stuff. If I want vector images, I need Adobe Illustrator. If I want to extrude my text to make a 3D image I can move a camera around, I need a program called 3DS Max, Maya, or Cinema 4D. In the meantime, I downloaded a demo of BorisFX that does 3D text with After Effects, but despite my ultra-basic skills this far, it seems a bit quirky.

Either way, this was the best I could do for the day. It’s already late on the West Coast, and if I don’t post what I’ve done shortly, I miss my self-imposed deadline of midnight East Coast time. I plan to explore this 2.5D vs 3D with the rest of today and tomorrow to see if I can find a solution or a tutorial that will allow me to create the kind of motion graphics I want just within After Effects.

Something that’s becoming extremely obvious though, is that so many of the tutorials I’m finding seem to be WAY more complicated than they have to be. If I follow a tutorial, I then spend the next few hours dissecting it and making it happen with far less trouble and work. That’s part of why I’m SO determined to get BlackBox Tuts off the ground; to provide the shortest path from Point A to Point B with any of the projects I post here. I know I’ve spent 18 hours already when it’s something that could have been accomplished in under an hour (or even less), so I’m hoping that with BlackBox Tuts, I may be able to save others some of that frustration.

See you in 24.

Duration: 15

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