Skip to main content

Working in 3D

Lesson 17 from: Adobe After Effects CC Quick Start

Chad Perkins

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

17. Working in 3D

Next Lesson: Adding 3D Lights

Lesson Info

Working in 3D

Let's talk about 3D. So, when we, I want to use this mouse pad So when you bring in something like a layer, a video or whatever it is from Illustrator, it's just a flat thing. It's like a postcard. It's flat. It has no volume to it. So it exists in X, that's left and right, it exists in Y, up and down, but it doesn't exist in Z, which is the dimension of towards you and away from you. There's no depth to it, no thickness to it. So when you're in after effects, people are really disappointed to learn that, yeah, there really isn't any depth to things. This is gonna stay flat, but we can create a three dimensional environment, so the layers themselves are flat to the object, they're little postcards, but we can create a huge, full 3D environment for those things to exist in. By doing that, we add that thing that I was talking about with after effects, it's so important to make everything feel really organic. Where you have that kind of spacial sense of our objects, of these layers being ...

actually in the distance, or actually in the foreground. Things really take on a new life as we will see. So, let's talk about making a layered 3D. It couldn't be any easier. I'm gonna start with my hero, and this is the hero controller, and I'm gonna start by hitting P for position. I'm gonna hit shift S and shift R. I want to see position, scale, and rotation all at the same time. And then I'm going to make this 3D. The way you make a layer 3D, it basically just says, "You "can exist in a 3D environment." That's all that making it 3D layer does. It doesn't change the look of the layer or anything about the layer, it just says, "You, layer, "have been gifted the ability to exist "in a three dimensional space." That's all it's doing. So when we come down to this little cube here, this column, this is what makes things a 3D layer. When I check this, it's gonna be a 3D layer, but watch what happens to position, scale, and rotation. This is very interesting. Click this, boom. We now have a 3D layer, our cursor's gonna change, now we have this three dimensional thing. We have X on the red arrow here, Y on the green, and the blue is pointing towards us, so we can't really see it as an arrow, but it's pointing towards us, and that's a Z. You'll see this in every 3D application, well not every app, that's absolute about it, but pretty much every single 3D app. Red, green, blue equals X, Y, Z. So, X is always red. Green is always Y. Blue is always Z. So now, let's look at what happened here. A few things happened. Rotation just went away. Rotation just blew up into four things. So position, it's pretty easy to see. We have a X value. We have a Y value. And now we have a Z value. So now I can increase this, and all these things are linked to Stu and his awesomeness. So these things on this plane, these are all the same plane. I just put them on the same layer. As we move this in Z space, it's coming towards us or away from us. It's not scaling down, it's moving, and that's really important. Scale, same thing. It got a third dimension in Z, but it's really worthless and pointless. You can't scale anything in Z. I'm not sure why that's there, but for the longest time when I first learning after effects, I was just like this sad, helpless child. I was like, "Come on. "I'm trying so hard to make it thick." And it just doesn't get thick. It doesn't work. So, then, rotation is an interesting thing. It turned into four properties. It turned into X, Y, and Z rotation as separate properties. It also this thing called orientation. Orientation determines where the object exists in a three dimensional space. So the rotation values, they can be animated. We can animate the rotation values, and they work just fine. Orientation should not be animated. It should not be animated, so if I were at this position, and I spun all the way around, and I set another key frame for this position, then the rotation property would spin me all the way around. It would recognize that. But the orientation property is not meant to rotate. So if I did this, and then spun all the way around to the next one, the orientation property would be like, "Uh, that one's closest, "so then I would just spin this one." Rather than spinning all the way back around, like rotation would have me do, orientation's just like, "I'm just gonna go "to the closest thing." Don't animate orientation, set up the orientation of how this thing exists in 3D space, and then animate it with the X, Y, and Z rotation. This can be a little confusing, because when it's X rotation, it's talking about rotating around the X axis. The X axis is left and right, so as you rotate around the X axis, you're going forward, like you're going like a wheel, like a Ferris wheel. You're spinning around like that, and when you're rotating around the Y axis, you're kind of going around something. So this is the Y axis, right? This is up or down, so when you rotate around it, you're going like this. So then as we rotate around the Y axis, we do that. Now you can see these are just flat layers. It's totally flat layers, which doesn't look great, but we're gonna make this look really full of depth in just a second, so sit tight. So that's rotating on the Y axis, and the Z axis is coming towards you, so rotating along the Z axis when you're doing 3D stuff, is like the equivalent of just regular 2D rotation, because Z is like this, and then rotating around the Z axis is just kind of like this, so it's just clockwise and counter clockwise. Let's make things in 3D, guys. So what I want to do is I want to make all these layers in 3D, that guy, clouds, mountains, lightening, and this is really interesting. Let me show you this. One of these layers I'm not gonna make 3D, that was interesting everything just kind of disappeared. That happens sometimes, so that's a little unusual. Let me just talk about this really quick. So we have the mid bad guy, this guy. This guy's really in the foreground, and we know about layers, when we change the stacking order, that when they're not 2D, can kind of like change the stacking order. Oh, wait, that's not going to work here. Let me put that back here, make these back to 3D again. We know about the layer stacking order, when a layer's on top of another layer, it obscures the view of what's underneath it, right? And so if you change stacking order, that's gonna be the thing you see. But if you have two layers next to each other, that are both 3D, then all bets are off. You can actually make those layers go front, behind, and exchange positions. So I can take this hero and adjust his Z position, and go in front of the mid bad guy, even though the mid bad guy is in front of the layer stack. Which is kinda cool. So now what I want to do, is I want to make these layers 3D, and then space them out in Z space. This seems kind of time consuming, and it is. So I want to move him this way, I want to move him, this way, just bring him out a little bit, and then I have this left cloud, and I want to make this 3D, this 3D, okay. So then we can go through the position on all these things and kind of put them in back at Z space, or forward. The clouds we'll bring forward a little bit, right cloud not as much. Maybe the middle cloud we'll put it back actually, so there's some depth. So the key is to kind of separate these things, to create separation, and I realize this is the boring part, but stay with me. Then, a lot of times what happens is people are like, "Yeah, we're moving these layers "in Z space." And then when you see what you can do with it, they're like, "Oh my, how did you get that again?" So, just stay with me for a second, because what we're trying to do is we're tying to stagger these layers in depth, in Z space. And then what happens is we can do a lot of really cool stuff with that, as you will see. So, I'm gonna go and I have the middle mountains, and I'm gonna push that back, and then the left mountain, I'm gonna push that back. Now, one of the cool things about 3D, or maybe not cool, it can be a problem sometimes, but one of the interesting things to be aware of is that when you have a 2D layer, then 3D stuff doesn't apply. So in a second, we're gonna create camera, and we're gonna move around these layers. But I don't want my background layer to change. My background, I just want to be the background, and so I'm gonna keep this layer 2D, so it's not as influenced by that. So I can make these other layers three dimensional. Now I want to close up my layers, I get to this sometimes, things are really congested. A lot of layers have properties open. So I'm going to do two shortcuts. I'm gonna hit command A on the MAC or control A on the PC to select everything. That's kind of like a universal system shortcut for select everything, control A or command A. Then I'm going to press shift tilde key, and that just closes everything up.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

CL AE Course Exercise Files

Ratings and Reviews

Grace Duong

I really enjoyed this course! As a self-taught After Effects user, this was great if you want to cover the basics and understand the program even more. I also enjoyed Chad's obvious enthusiasm for After Effects and his energy. Definitely felt like I took away some useful tips for my workflow!

a Creativelive Student

If you want to get into learning AE. Watch this video first. I've watched many AE tutorials and I still had many 'why' questions. Chad is great and explaining things and even uses great analogies​ so you understand what is going on. I highly recommend it. Thank you.

Pauly Wright

I bought this over a year ago when it was over $50 and it was still worth every penny then. I'm a videographer that knows Adobe Premier Pro and I wanted to understand After Effects more to make information, figures, stats in videos more engaging. Chad is really enthusiastic, passionate about what he does and he doesn't waffle. After watching this i'm now confident to put this in practise. Highly recommended.

Student Work