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Well the subject basically says it, but I'll explain this question in depth as clearly as I can.
The question is simply this.... Can After Effects use a Z-depth pass from a 3-d scene in order to composite objects one in front of the other correctly EVEN IF THEY'RE ON SEPARATE LAYERS!?!?
You might ask, "why would you need to do this? Why not just render it in one pass?" Well here's the reason.
The product is being rendered from a complex AE scene with a mess of 3-d elements, and 2-d elements, and crazy particle systems. And edits need to be made quickly for the client... So, say the client looks at the work, and loves it except for one thing... They want the leaves to blow around faster in the scene...Well here's the problem with that.... . Changing the speed of these leave is going to be hard because they're ON A SIGNLE LAYER.... and blowing in front of, and behind elements on other layers!!! I can't rely on the timing to match up perfectly for each of these elements anymore, unless I re-render every 3-d element that's on its own layer all over again with the edited change....What a head ache.....
Which brings me to my question. Can I just take a Z depth pass, and use that as true Z information somehow inside of after effects?? Because then I don't have to re-render anything at all!!!! I could just stay inside of After Effects and speed up that layer with the leaves!! The Z depth pass could tell after effects how far each leave is from the camera..... And how far every other object is from the camera.... So after effects will know "hey I need to put this leave behind this object and that leave in front of that object."
This would be far better then going back into my 3-d application and re-animating the leaves, and then re-rendering them and every other object.
Well that's my question. I certainly hope after effects has this capability. It would certainly make things faaarr easier for me. And thanks in advance for the answers!!