15 Replies Latest reply on Apr 3, 2013 8:05 AM by Matt Dubuque

    CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS

    Matt Dubuque Level 1

      My apologies, but I'm kind of a left brained guy and sometimes it's hard to wrap my mind around right brain spatial problems that others find laughably easy.

       

      I'm interested in creating this simple box with four walls through which one could view a video at the far end.  I don't need all the little videos on the side, I am just unsure how to create that simple box.

       

      Would I extrude that in 3d somehow?  Can I construct it all at once rather than aligning one wall at a time?  I'm not too good with parallax and vanishing points yet.

       

      What basic workflows do I need to master to create this simple box in 3D?

       

      Thanks so much!  Rocket science to me right now.

       

      Here is the underlying video from which it was derived; it was constructed in another program, but I'm certain this is very straightforward in AE.

       

       

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvP6mFokVCETh

       

       

      Thanks!   Matt Dubuque

       

       

      Screen shot 2013-03-15 at 7.43.03 PM.png

        • 1. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
          Todd_Kopriva Level 8

          Make an open cube out of 5 3D layers (leaving off the sixth side, the one in front). The back layer is the one playing your movie. Move your camera backward out of the cube.

           

          Since you seem to be struggling with the basics, and you've said that you don't like to read, I very strongly recommend that you get one of the comprehensive video training courses for After Effects and watch it all the way through. Spending a few days doing that will really help you.

           

          I give several recommendations here:

          http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2011/12/video-training-providers-for-after-effects.htm l

           

          I especially recommend Chris & Trish Meyer's Apprentice training on Lynda.com and the Learn By Video training on video2brain, in that order.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
            Matt Dubuque Level 1

            Hi Todd,

             

            Thanks, I appreciate that.

             

            I didn't say I don't like to read.  I'm a voracious reader, which is why law school was a good fit.

             

            To clarify my comments on that area as far as online help manuals ago, I find that online help screens are much slower than books I hold in my hand,

             

            This is because the architecture of a book is much more conducive to rapid search retrieval.

             

            The architecture of a book contains both a table of contents and an index and, between those two contrasting ways of summarizing very large data sets, one can quickly navigate between them to obtain the desired result.

             

            Online help manuals typically do not have this two dimensional search architecture but instead only have a table of contents. Typically the very fast searching mechanism of an index is not present and that slows down the search process.   I rely very heavily on a good index. 

             

            It's different than a good table of contents.

             

            Chris and Trish Meyer's Apprentice video training is astonishingly good.  I am doing a little bit each day, in conjunction with their companion book.  No finer way to learn AE in my view and it is time very well spent.

             

            I clearly know much more than on March 1, when I was pretty terrified of the complexity of the program and not knowing what was absolutely critical to keep in mind on every workflow and what was trivial 99% of the time.

             

            I do have problems with spatial thinking, being much more of a linear guy.  For example, I can make a cube, but the idea of constructing a 5 sided cube involves thinking, literally, just a little bit "outside the box" not covered in the courses.

             

            Also, I think I will somehow need to use the transform tool to transform the sides of the wall of my screen shot to get that sense of perspective.  But I probably would be well served to learn more about vanishing points and perspective to make that look as good as the screen shot? 

             

            I don't know.

             

            It is nice and enjoyable how in two short weeks my fear has turned more to fascination.

             

            Thanks for your help, as always,

             

            Matt Dubuque

            • 3. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
              Todd_Kopriva Level 8

              > Also, I think I will somehow need to use the transform tool to transform the sides of the wall of my screen shot to get that sense of perspective.

              You only need to do things like that if you're faking 3D with 2D effects and transformations. If you actually build a 3D box and move a camera, perspective comes for free. That's the point of working in 3D.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Try this.

                1. Create 5 different colored solids in a new HD composition in AE.
                2. Make solid 1 through 3 1600 X 800 pixels, make solid 4 and 5 1600 X 1600 pixels.
                3. Make all solid layers 3D.
                4. Ctrl/Cmnd + A to select all layers
                5. Press A to reveal the anchor point.
                6. Set the z value of the anchor point for Layers 1 - 3 to -800 pixels
                7. Set the z value of the anchor point for Layers 4 & 5 to -400 pixels
                8. Rotate layer 2 90º on the Y axis
                9. Rotate layer 3 270º on the Y axis
                10. Rotate layer 4 90º on the X axis
                11. Rotate layer 5 270º on the X axis
                12. Add a two node camera to your scene with a 35 mm lens
                13. Select Layer>Camera>Create Orbit Null
                14. Add another null to the scene, make it 3D and name it CubeController
                15. Select all of the layers that form your cube and make the CubeController the Parent
                16. Adjust the perspective you want in your 'theater' by changing the Z value of the camera
                17. Adjust the angle of the camera by rotating the Camera Controller null
                18. Add some lights to the scene to emphasize the perspective

                 

                There you go. Five minutes and you've got your 'theater' and you're ready to start replacing the walls with footage or artwork. The best way to do that is to build each wall as separate composition the same size as the solids, add the elements you are going to use for the walls, and then return to the main comp and select a wall and it's replacement pre-comp in the Project Panel and Alt/Option drag from the Project Panel to the Timeline to replace the 'wall' (layer) with the pre-comp.

                 

                It should look something like this:

                Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.34.07 AM.png

                (Did you catch the math used in setting up the box? AE's 3D space is very easy to use once you've done it a time or two.

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                  Matt Dubuque Level 1

                  Yay, thanks so much Rick!

                   

                  I'm one happy camper.

                   

                  I know I can do that.

                   

                  I really need to learn to "think" in 3d.  I am so darn flat right now!

                   

                  Whew.

                   

                  One final question.

                   

                  I'd like to "screen" 1920 x 1080 videos through this little "projector".

                   

                  Will that change the dimensions of any of the walls?

                   

                  That's probably an easy question, but again, wrapping my mind around thinking in 3d is rocket science for me, but the payoffs are enormous.

                   

                  By the way, my self education track to learn AE is simply careful study of Chris and Trish Meyer's Apprentice videos and accompanying book, coupled with Mark Christiansen's great book on compositing and then the experts here.

                   

                  Then I just try to create projects on my own.

                   

                  But in the time I've spent in this group, Rick your workflows and screenshots are some of the most shockingly cogent, quick, concise and lucid tutorials around.  If you ever consider publishing some of these sample work flows you so graciously post free of charge, I'd buy those suckers in a minute.

                   

                  I don't know if you're interested in such a project, but you'd have more than one enthusiastic evangelist.... just like I trumpet the value of both the Meyers' work and Mark's as well.

                   

                  First rate and thanks again!   I'm going to put you and Todd in the credits to my film, which is not guaranteed to fail.

                   

                  I've got a good story and a good marketing plan.   Matt Dubuque

                  • 6. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                    Matt Dubuque Level 1

                    OK, I think I answered my own question but that generated just one more that I would like to know before I start, because I'm a cautious guy.

                     

                    1.  I should not have to adjust any dimensions of the construct that Rick has described because I can just scale down my 1920 x 1080 video to fit perfectly within the projector area.

                     

                    This does lead to one other question.

                     

                    Is it ok to create this construct inside a 1920 x 1080 composition?  It seems like it, but I'd like to be positive so I can spend my time wisely.

                     

                    My goal is to become a well-rounded beginner in AE by April 8, except for compositing and green screens, which I will learn after my film is finished.

                     

                    Thanks again.  Matt

                    • 7. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                      Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      If you use solids to create a box you just have to pay attention to the sizes They can be anything. They could be comp size but the math isn't as easy to do in your head. I chose 1600 X 1600 and 1600 X 800 so that the offset in Z for the anchor point would be a nice even number. You use half the horizontal width of the solid for the Z value for horizontal walls and half the vertical height for floor and ceiling. That way, when you rotate them the edges perfectly match. It's just simple arithmetic.

                       

                      As far as placing a video on the projection screen you can scale the video to any size you want, but for the layer replacement to work the pre-comp must be the same size as the solids you used to model your theater. I'd probably lay the video on a solid and either crop or scale it to fit so there was a little border.

                       

                      This is pretty basic stuff if you just think How would I build what I want out of a deck of cards.

                      1 person found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                        Matt Dubuque Level 1

                        Got it.  Time to start building!

                         

                        Matt

                        • 9. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                          Matt Dubuque Level 1

                          Hi Rick, thanks so much for your help on this!

                           

                          After a little thinking and fooling around and trying as hard as I could to follow your directions exactly, I think I came pretty close to your end product, which feels great.

                           

                          I do have a few thoughts and questions.

                           

                          1.  How did you know right away to adjust the anchor points on your various layers?  For me, the manipulation of anchor points is really an area of AE where a project can become incredibly cool or go horribly astray.   Anchor points are something that still stump me conceptually (I know the dictionary definition, but not much more...) and I'm curious how you knew to manipulate your anchor points so early in the process.

                           

                          What was your thought process like?

                           

                          2.  It seems like I've read so much and watched so many videos in the last month that my head is spinning.  I seem to have an issue in the top active camera view where I want the red bounding box composed of eight dots to be centered better rather than being "anchored" to the blue dot in the upper left hand corner.   I know it's a quick and easy fix to remedy that but I just can't recall the terminology to describe it and then search for an answer.  Can you assist?

                           

                          3.  My wife says, "Matt, if you don't try to do things perfectly, you will never do anything important," so I must point out that even though most people might never notice, my end product is not exactly like yours.  This is demonstrated by comparing my four corners to the four corners of your theatre.  The four corners of your project all feature a perfect intersection of two colors, whereas all mine show an offset.

                           

                          I tried manipulating both the position and scale of the cube controller in tandem to eliminate this, but when my corners finally looked like yours, my entire theatre was surrounded by a thin black border because it was slightly smaller than my 1920 x 1080 comp.  And of course when I tried to scale it up to fit, the problem recurred.  Additionally, repositioning the camera within the domain did not seem to fix the problem.

                           

                          Any thoughts on this?  I sure appreciate your help.

                           

                          Sincerely,   Matt Dubuque

                           

                          Screen shot 2013-04-01 at 5.47.42 PM.png

                          • 10. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                            Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            Position the anchor points is purely mathematical. Think of a cube with all of the anchor points for each layer exactly in the center of the cube. If the sides were 400 pixels by 400 pixels then 1/2 of the width or height would be 200. Offset the anchor point by 200 pixels in Z and you've moved all of the layers back by 1/2 the width of the layer. Since rotation always happens around the anchor point when you rotate the in increments of 90º they will always end up with aligned edges.

                             

                            Now to the problem of your edge seams. First of all, work with even pixel values for the size of your layers. 200 X 200 works, 205 X 205 or 300 X 145 won't work as well. This is because AE does sub pixel positioning and the edges at half pixel values will be interpreted with different values than edges at whole pixel values.

                             

                            The second problem is that any time there's any angle to a line or edge the edge must be interpreted to fix aliasing (jaggy edges) that are caused when you try to draw a diagonal line on a checkerboard. It is called anti-aliasing. This gives you different pixel values at the edge with the image is at an angle. After Effects makes it's transparency calculations using straight alphas. In most cases this is by far the best option. When it comes to matching up edges of these 3D planes it isn't the best. It would be better to add the alpha values together rather than use a straight calculation which combines the values.

                             

                            Fortunately AE has a blend mode called Alpha Add. It only effects the alpha channels are calculated.  Changing the blend mode to Alpha Add eliminates the problem until you start adding lights to your scene.

                             

                            As soon as you start adding lights to the scene you run into additional problems calculating alpha edge values. There are some workarounds to eliminate light leaks in these situations that involve scaling the layers slightly that are nearest the camera so that the problem is hidden. In spite of what your wife says trying to be perfect in every frame isn't a very good way to make a living in the visual effects business. You have to be able to make your scene look right with the least amount of effort so you can move on the the next of the thousands of frames it takes to complete a project. That is the biggest challenge faced by anyone working with AE.

                             

                            Unfortunately, unless you use ray traced rendering to extrude a box in AE you cannot fix the problem completely, but by carefully designing your animation to hide these problems you can make things look perfect without being so. Take these two cubes with a point light set in the center. The one on the left is perfect but looks wrong, the one on the left has the back left wall moved 1 pixel to the right and the right front wall is scaled 101% in X to hide the seams. If I needed to spin the cube and add motion blur I would need to pre-compose the spinning cube and add CC Force Motion blur to the scene to hide the seams. It's prety easy to see which version of the spinning cube works better.

                             

                            lightLeaks.jpg

                            I hope this long winded explanation helps. Take a look at his image. It shows two solids separated by 2 pixels in the center. The Alpha levels of the pixels that are going to match up are shown. The panel on the left shows the edges matching with the blend mode set to Alpha Add. The image on the right shows the blend mode set to normal. The differing shades of blue are caused by combining rather than adding the alpha values of those pixels.

                             

                            alphaAdd.jpg

                            • 11. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                              Matt Dubuque Level 1

                              Hi Rick,

                               

                              Thanks so much for helping.  I had a good day today in AE.

                               

                              After reading your post, I concluded that really what I had was an issue of aligning things in 3D and I decided to finally view a superb workshop on using vanishing points and parallax to position things properly in composites and that helped as well, so I'm good to go in this regard now.

                               

                              http://www.video2brain.com/en/courses/creating-perspective-in-photoshop

                               

                              One thing I will be doing, which seems implicit from an earlier post you made, is to put a border around each of the sides, which also masks these small issues that arise.

                               

                              My question about anchor points was more of a conceptual one, seeking kind of a view from 1000 feet.

                               

                              I was wondering how you can tell whether any problem in After Effects is likely to require manipulation of the anchor point in its workflow......

                               

                              thanks for your help and have a great evening!

                              • 12. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                                Rick Gerard Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                Matt Dubuque wrote:

                                 

                                One thing I will be doing, which seems implicit from an earlier post you made, is to put a border around each of the sides, which also masks these small issues that arise.

                                 

                                My question about anchor points was more of a conceptual one, seeking kind of a view from 1000 feet.

                                 

                                I was wondering how you can tell whether any problem in After Effects is likely to require manipulation of the anchor point in its workflow......

                                Putting a border around a file does not help with the anti-aliasing issue very much because a diagonal line, whether or not it is a border is still a diagonal line. Also, when adding lights you may be able to help a bit but the shift and scale options I described work much better and you can animate them to keep the sides toward the camera looking perfect.

                                 

                                Manipulation of anchor points is required when you want to change the center of rotation, the center of scale, or easily line up layers in 3D space. The anchor point is also a great tool in 2D when doing things like slide shows. You'll find that it's easier to animate scale and anchor point to do a move on a still in 2D than it is to manipulate scale and position. There's not enough time to go into it here, but before 3D in AE everyone who knew what they were doing changed the anchor point (which changes the relative position, and adjusted the scale to move in or out of a photograph.

                                 

                                The whole key to understanding AE's 3D space is to look at the problems like you were building a house of cards. What is the easiest way to line things up. Unless I'm building cubes or walls nearly all of my layers have the anchor point set to 0 Z space but the anchor points are set to my desired center of rotation, center of scale.

                                 

                                I hope this helps.

                                • 13. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                                  Pierre Devereux Level 2

                                  Hi,

                                   

                                  Off topic, but what resources do you have for compositing and green screening? I can make a few suggestions. I started on AE roughly a year ago, and have built a nice library. I have a few titles for greenscreening and compositing. I can list them if you are interrested. Keeping in mind - they are what I have found helpfull, there would probably be better resources out there (or here in the forum of course!), but it might save you a little researching time.

                                   

                                  Pierre

                                  • 14. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                                    Matt Dubuque Level 1

                                    Thanks Rick, that's very helpful.  Key point you made on the aliasing!

                                     

                                    A summary that is not horrific and a good start might be any time I have a centering issue or want to do a Ken Burns effect, consider moving my anchor point.  Very nice.

                                     

                                    I'm starting to get that house of cards thing, by having four views open of a 3D space, manipulating one of the faces with an x, y, or z handles and watching how the cards line up in all four views.

                                    • 15. Re: CREATING A RECEDING RECTANGLE IN AFTER EFFECTS
                                      Matt Dubuque Level 1

                                      Thanks for the offer Pierre, much appreciated!

                                       

                                      My goal was to be a well rounded AE beginner in six weeks (ending April 15), except for green screens and compositing which I really am not using much for my film, completion of which is the main objective here.


                                      That said, this video on vanishing point and parallax really helped me conceptualize various issues in AE 3D and has obvious implications in improving so much of the ghastly compositing out there.

                                       

                                      http://www.video2brain.com/en/courses/creating-perspective-in-photoshop


                                      I do have some nice resources on compositing and green screen, namely Mark Christiansen's book (superb) and the Chris Meyer materials.

                                       

                                      HOWEVER, if you have some cool videos on planar tracking, I think that is important for me to master at this stage to help me think more like Cezanne when I approach a 3d scene.

                                       

                                      Thanks for the offer and may fine art grace your day.    matt