tutorials for After Effects and 3D by Dave Scotland
Dave Scotland provides a lot of great information about After Effects on his CG Swot website. He is especially keen on integrating 3D applications with After Effects and doing 3D compositing and animation in After Effects. His primary 3D application appears to be 3ds Max (3D Studio MAX), but a lot of what he shows is applicable to whatever 3D application you’re using. He also uses and demonstrates Trapcode plug-ins such as Particular, Starglow, and Shine.
One of the things that I like about Dave’s tutorials is that he uses 3D in just about every composition, showing that adding lights and shadows and camera moves to animations can, well, add a lot of depth and a whole new dimension to any animation.
Dave uses the Fractal Noise effect a lot, whether to create star fields, brushed metal, or other organic textures. The one thing that I’d recommend is to consider using the Turbulent Noise effect, instead. Turbulent Noise was new in After Effects CS4, and it was added to provide almost identical features but with higher performance and more natural dynamic animation.
Here is a list of a few of the tutorials that I liked and what I found especially useful in each:
- “Layer Styles Logo”: This tutorial shows how to use layer styles within After Effects to create a metallic logo with a brushed metal texture and rivets.
- “Underwater Scene in After Effects”: This tutorial shows how to use parenting to rig a simple animated fish character. This tutorial uses Particular to create a school of fish from a single fish, but you can use other particle effects to do the same thing. Dave also shows how to use the Turbulent Displace effect to simulate a wavy ocean surface.
- “Map Morph Transition”: This tutorial shows how to use the Fractal Noise effect in a very clever way to create a transition between various still images.
- “The UFO Hoax”: Dave uses the built-in After Effects motion tracking system to stabilize shaky footage. This might be better accomplished with mocha-AE now that After Effects comes with this motion-tracking application, but this tutorial does a great job of showing how to use the built-in motion tracking system to stabilize a shot. After stabilizing the shot, he uses a basic motion path and auto-orients a UFO along this path. As a crucial finishing touch, he adds some grain to the movie to make the composite look like it all fits together—as well as to feel like the canonical grainy UFO shot.
- “Fix Tiny Z-Depth Numbers”: This tutorial shows how to use the Depth Of Field effect, even with a 3D file that has been rendered without optimal depth settings.
- “Designing and Compositing a HUD”: This epic five-part tutorial goes through all the details of designing, implementing, and compositing a HUD (heads-up display), including placing targeting crosshairs in a motion-tracked scene, animating text layers, and using expressions. It’s long, but it’s full of techniques and workflow tips that are very valuable for motion graphics and compositing work.
- “Power of the RPF”: In this tutorial, Dave demonstrates how to create RPF files in a 3D application and how to use RPF files in After Effects. The first part explains the RPF format and how to create RPF files in 3ds Max (3D Studio MAX). The second part shows how to use the Object ID and Z depth information in an RPF file within After Effects, using several of the 3D Channel effects: ID Matte, Depth of Field, Depth Matte, and Fog 3D effects.
- “The Classic Star Wars Crawl”: Dave shows not only how to create the perspective text crawl with a text layer in 3D—he completely recreates the title sequence using the CC Sphere effect and Fractal noise to create the planets, moons, and star field behind the text.
- “Puppet Animation in After Effects”: This tutorial demonstrates how to create a looping animation using the Puppet tools and putting a character in a 3D scene with a light to create shadows and depth.