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2 D

Animating still photos in After Effects By Stephen Schleicher
A trend that is appearing more in more commercials and other video productions is taking a traditional photograph and giving it depth creating a 2 D image. In this Adobe After Effects tutorial, Ill outline the process and show you how you can do it as well.

Begin with a traditional photograph. For this exercise, you can use a panoramic image I took at Castle Rock, Kansas last summer. The image was stitched together using RealViz Stitcher 3.5.

Click for super-sized image to use in this exercise.

Well be breaking the image into three separate layers and animating each. The first layer will be the background/cloud layer, the second will be the cliff face, and the last layer will be some foreground grass.

Obviously well be using masks to separate the layers. Create a new composition and place the panoramic image in the composition.

Double click the layer to open the layer window. Use the Pen Tool to create a mask that loosely follows the shape of the cliffs. Invert this mask so as only to leave the cloud layer. Name this layer cloud.

Duplicate the cloud layer and turn off the mask inversion. This leaves a rough outline of the cliffs. Name this layer Cliff Fill. Well use this layer in a moment.

Duplicate the Cliff Fill layer and name it Cliffs. The mask only creates a loose outline of the cliffs. If you wanted to spend a great deal of time masking the cliff to follow every nook and crevas then you are free to do so. However in this example, getting a solid outline of the cliffs is much easier with a keying tool.

To the Cliffs layer apply the Linear Key. Linear keying allows you to select a key color and then add other colors to it. In the Effects Control Panel use the eyedropper to make a selection of the blue sky.

Once your primary key color is selected, use the Eyedropper Plus to selected other regions of the sky (including the clouds). Adjust the Tolerance levels until nearly the entire sky is keyed out. You will probably have a few stray clouds around after the key. These can easily be removed with additional masks.

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