DAY 010 – Trying for True 3D



Determined to make true 3D happen in After Effects while using plugins, I started Day 009’s “Sure Target 2.5D” project from scratch. My goal was to remain in true 3D space, start to finish. After I spent so much time getting my “perfect” look for the frozen-in-time amoeba-thing (using CC Particle World which is included with After Effects CS5), I wanted to have the camera move through that 3-dimensional image as the 3D image it was, and not the flattened down plane that happened in Day 009 when I used Pre-Comps with Sure Target 2. It seems that as soon as I “Pre-Comp” something, I lose my true 3D and the scene moves into a flat 2D plane, so I decided I needed to alter my approach and workflow right now.

My goal was to see if I could make everything happen in a single comp.

After lots of research, it seems that much of what I’m trying to do in After Effects, typically happens in a dedicated 3D program such as Maya, 3DS Max, or Cinema 4D. Just when I thought I was on my way…it turns out that After Effects may be just one piece of a much larger picture. I know Photoshop inside and out from my years of web programming and graphics for bands and my studio work, as well as as some Illustrator…but I’m not sure I’m interested in trying to tackle 3DS Max, Maya, or Cinema 4D.

Time for more research to see what 3D software might make the most sense for me.

So, thanks to Trapcode Particular again, I created the amoeba thingy and preserved it’s 3D space. I then used a few 2D tricks I was shown for the text, using the “Bevel Alpha” and the “Drop Shadow” preset effects. It does a great job of making text appear 3D even when the camera is rotating (within reason) around the scene, especially when it’s mixed with other 3D elements. You be the judge.

I also found a great plugin called “Quaker Shaker” that makes it simple to simulate camera shake. The only time I actually made a PreComp was to throw the Quaker Shaker plugin onto the Comp. I used it at the very beginning of this clip instead of the end like the clip from the day before. I love the effect…it’s so easy to use, that like the Red Giant stuff, it not only inspires me, but frees me up to spend more time working on other details of a project.

I grow more and more convinced that if I actually possessed a reasonable skill set, that the many hours I’ve spent on each of these projects can be greatly reduced. Don’t get me wrong; I know it’s part of the learning process, and I am having the time of my life working with motion graphics, but it would be quite a dream come true to be able to make these mini pieces of “art” happen in less time than 6-18 hours of intense effort every day.

Anyway, enough of that. Today was a good effort for me in terms of learning some capabilities and limits of 2D as well as 3D in After Effects. I can’t wait to apply this to some of the 2D images we need to convert to 3D for the documentary, but in due time. I have the patience. I’m my own worst critic, but it has always pushed me to do more than I thought I could. This attempt at learning motion graphics in 100 days is no different.

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