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...Open the Door

Creating a 3D Door in After Effects : PART 1 By Ko Maruyama
After Effects has had a 3D environment since version 5.  A 3D camera has been able to look at the layers (albeit 2D planes) that exist in this 3D space ever since.  In earlier versions, irregular box shapes involved calculating the position for each side, and placing them precisely to avoid over-hanging pixels.  Doors and other boxy shapes are now easier than ever in After Effects.  In version 6, Digital Anarchy provided users with Box Creator Lite.  In addition to creating simple cubic shapes, Box Creator Lite opens doors to other After Effects potential.  In this tutorial, I'll demonstrate how to use Box Creator to make a 3D door, and set it on its hinges.

While a 3D door may not be something you'd want to create in After Effects if you have access to a true 3D application, like MAXON's Cinema 4D, a scene with a door demonstrates many facets of After Effects' 3D potential.




Create the elements of the door.

While you can certainly create your door from solids within After Effects, I've found it easier to create the separate layers in Photoshop, then import the .PSD as a composite into After Effects.

In a Photoshop document, create a front and back side of a door.  Make sure to keep track of your pixel dimensions of the elements.  The file is 400x850 px.    Also create one edge for the top, and another for the side.  The side element is 20 x 800 px.  The top element is 400 x 20.  You can create custom sides if you like, but I'll keep it simple with 4 layers.  Name the layers and save the Photoshop document.


Import PSD into AE.

Import this as a composition into After Effects  (File - Import - Import File - As Composition (or just drag the icon to AE) and open the resulting composition.

The resulting timeline will look something like this:


Of course, you'll need 6 layers to make all sides of the cube.   Duplicate the side layer and the top-bottom layer by selecting them (shift click) and duplicating them (cmd-d).

Box Creator Lite has a preferred layer order which corresponds to the faces of the resulting box shape.  The order is "Front", "Right", "Back", "Left", "Top", "Bottom".

First, make sure all of your layers are 3D Layers, by enabling the 3D Layer switch, then create the order of faces from Layer 1 (front) to Layer 6 (bottom).

If you've duplicated the face of the door, and find your result asymmetrical, you can change the scale of "Door Back" to (-100, 100, 100) in order to flip it.




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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:After Effects, 3D, Box Creator Lite, Digital Anarchy

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