Your workflow makes no sense, I'm afraid. There's no reason to go batty over high-res trees and placing them geometrically exact. you would simply build multiple comps and stack them together, including cross-fading between different resolution versions. After all, you can use collapser transformations, can you not? If that's still not working for you, then it may simply be too complex and you may have to use a genuine 3D program.
I needed the high res tree because it starts off showing just one apple on the tree in close-up before pulling back to reveal it's part of an apple tree, which is part of an apple farm, and that there are lots and lots of apple farms. If I started off with a low res tree (for the main tree) there the apple close-up looked really bad (in the 1080p video). I have done pre-composing (but I'm not totally sure how best to do it to get it looking reasonably correct with the camera moves). I don't know right know how I'd do it in a genuine 3d program like Blender - and I need to do it quite quickly and for that I'm sure After Effects will be best. Just placing them (groups of them with a null) seemed like a reasonable-ish way to do it and the scale and everything would be accurate with the camera moves.
I don't know why After Effects isn't letting me look further into the Z (eg. to place additional objects), I mean the sky image is placed further back (edit: I've just reloaded the comp and it's showing the sky plane where it didn't before as shown in the screenshot - but it still doesn't let me zoom/move back as described). I suppose I could place additional trees/groups of trees in the main view and just enter manual values instead of using the top view (but that's going to be harder to ensure they're positioned accurately). It seems like the limitation is in the top view (probably some of the other views too). If there was some setting that could be edited to say "allow zooms of <1.5%" or moving further back than whatever it currently is that would be good.
edit: Yes I probably could do it with fading/dissolving from each view - but I thought it would look much better if all done in one camera move, without fades.
edit2: I've added what should hopefully be enough trees in the distance (at various distances) so hopefully he will be happy with that. I might see see if I can add a bit of fog in the background over the distant trees to it looks like there's a lot and you don't really see to clearly the actual number.
I added them using the camera view but it would have been a lot easier/faster to pick up and place groups of them using the top view. It's got to be some sort of bug if the top view won't let me see all objects that are in the composition. Thanks for your help though. I'll probably try to use a better way than mine in future (and if I had to properly show pans over many different farms I'd have to do some sort of fade/dissolve to a different comp for that).
You need multiple images of the trees, not one gigantic one that you push into so that you have a pixel perfect apple. It's like doing an earth zoom. You start with a 2X comp size image of the earth from space, match that to a 2X image of part of the earth, match that to a 2X image from 40,000 feet, match that to a 2X image from google earth showing a state, then an image of a city, then an image of a house, then an image of a kid on a bicycle shot from above. You need a bunch of layers. None of them should be much bigger than 2 or 3 x the with of your composition and none of them should be closer to the camera than the zoom value or scaled to more than about 100%. You just need to hide or carefully match the transitions between layers to pull this off.
The problem you were trying to solve required a better understanding of how compositing and pixels work. Success lies in design and the proper preparation of the assets you need to use. It would serve you well to study up on visual effects techniques. There are lots of good books on the subject. Knowing the software (AE) is really the least important part of the process.
You need multiple images of the trees, not one gigantic one that you push into so that you have a pixel perfect apple.
Only the tree that the camera pulls back from it's apple close-up is full res (8000 x 12,037 pixels), the rest are lower with the groups quite near to the camera at 1276x1920 per tree and the ones in the vast distance (practically on the horizon) at 532x800 (now partially obscured by fog - to try to hide their numbers a bit but still make it look like there's lots).
Thanks for your post and I get what you are saying (I did scale down some of the furthest trees to make it seem like they are further away than they are (instead of just increasing the z further - and enlarging the sky even more) - even though that won't be quite correct in terms of the perspective and the camera move - just a quick way to give the impression of distant trees).
I'll take what you said into account for when I do more stuff like that in future (but still I don't see why AE limits certain views so you can't see all your objects - it to me is a sort of bug. I mean the "world" it allows is larger than it will allow you to see in the (top) view.)
There are lots of good books on the subject.
I have got various books on similar subjects (which I should read more) but sometimes creating it in a way that's a shortcut type way (instead of correct perspective/3d-wise) can be seen in the final video (eg. if the distant objects are too low res or say they're a low res lower scale object that isn't really placed further away in Z - the camera move (or maybe other elements) could give it away that it's not correct (but on the other hand it's only a short shot so taking shortcuts would probably have been better).
You can use the camera tool to pull back on any of the views. It just won't move the comp camera.
I think your biggest problem is that you are trying to see the entire shot rather than cut things together. When I do this kind of thing my layers move, not the camera and they start out about two or three times the zone value away from the camera. When I get to where I need to be I drop in another layer.
Did you ever find a solution for your composition? Did our experts' advice help you? Give us an update on the project and if you still need assistance.
The project was completed some time ago thanks. Thanks for everyone's help. I still didn't manage to get any camera in the top view to pull back further. If I was doing that particular segment again I'd definitely do things differently (not just for ease of creation of the composition(s) but to make things clearer for the viewer).
I'd still like the AE program to be changed (the version I'm using) to be able to pull back (zoom out) further in the top view though and/or move further forward in that view. I'm sure I could have done what I did much faster if it did, I could have easily duplicated and placed multiple trees further back much faster & easier. Even though for that particular project that probably wasn't the best/clearest to the viewer, it would still be useful for other projects (doing it entirely in the main composition/camera view (front) was much more time consuming. Perhaps there was a way to do it with another camera but the main views should do it automatically. I should be able to see all the objects AE has stored in that compositions 3D world in all the views, including the top view.)
Though I accept the advice given about different ways of doing achieving shots like that (but which would likely need transitions instead of being one continuous shot - whereas I'd prefer the ability to do it without having to have transitions such as dissolves - even though they could be used), I'd still like the issue with the top view fixed in After Effects (the version I'm using) - to be able to zoom out to see the entire comp.