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Applying 3D Channel Effects

Adding fog to your 3D scenes By Stephen Schleicher

The Professional version of Adobe After Effects provides tools to integrate 3D scenes into 2D composites and to make changes to those 3D scenes. In this tutorial, well look at how you add Fog to your 3D render.

You can import 3D channel image files saved in RLA, RPF, Softimage PIC/ZPIC, and Electric Image EI/EIZ formats. For PIC and EI files, the 3D channel information is in the ZPIC or EIZ files, respectively. You dont actually import ZPIC and EIZ files, but as long as theyre in the same folder with the PIC and EI files, you have access to their 3D channels using the 3D channel effects. The 3D channel effects dont affect other types of files.

The 3D Channel Effects read and manipulate the additional channels of information, including z-depth, surface normals, object ID, texture coordinates, background color, unclamped RGB, and material ID. You can layer 3D elements along a Z axis, insert other elements in a 3D scene, blur areas in a 3D scene, isolate 3D elements, apply a foggy effect with depth, and extract 3D channel information for use as parameters in other effects.

Note: You can only apply 3D channel effects to 2D layers that have the auxiliary information. If you convert a layer to 3D and view it from anywhere but the front and center, it doesnt appear as expected. 

Step 1:  Start by launching After Effects and creating a New Composition by pressing Command+N on the Mac or Control+N on the PC.

In the Composition Settings dialog box, type 3D Channels in the Composition Name field.  From the Preset drop down menu, select NTSC D1. This will automatically set the Width, Height, Pixel Aspect Ratio, and Frame Rate for the composition.  In the Duration field, type 10. (period) to specify 10 seconds, then click OK. 

In this exercise Ill be using a simple warehouse set created in NewTeks LightWave 3D.  You can download this project file at the end of the tutorial.

Step 2:  Choose File > Import > File.  Navigate to the folder where your 3D plate is located, and click Open.

A dialog box will open and ask how you want After Effects to handle the embedded alpha channel. Select Strait Unmatted, and then click OK.

 Step 3:  Make sure the current-time marker is at the beginning of the Timeline by pressing the Home key, then select boxes0001.rpf and drag it into the Timeline to automatically center it in the Composition window.

Applying the Fog 3D effect
Now lets make some fog using one of the 3D channel effect.

Step 4:  With the Boxes layer selected in the Timeline, choose Effect > 3D Channel > Fog 3D. The Fog 3D effect applies fog along the Z-axis, so the distant areas of the 3D scene look hazier and become more obscured by the fog.

Because After Effects is reading the Z-depth information in the file, you need to adjust the Start and End Depth settings to gradually increase the murkiness of the fog over distance.


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Related Keywords:after effects, professional, 3d render, 3d channel effects, tutorial, schleicher, adobe after effects


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