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Using Depth Effects in After Effects

Adding rack focus and depth of field to a 3D layer By Stephen Schleicher

Even though render speeds in 3D applications have gotten faster, adding depth of field during the first pass really adds to the render time.  And even if you do render a shallow depth of field, what happens if you need to tweak it?  With the 3D Channel effects in Adobe After Effects 7.0, you can render a single pass and then add enhancements in post.  In this tutorial, Ill walk you through creating your own rack focus in post.

The Depth of Field effect simulates a camera thats focusing in on one area in a 3D scene (along the z axis), while allowing other areas to blur. It works with 8-bit-per-channel color images.

For this tutorial, Ill be using the same render from the last tutorial, so if you havent read and downloaded it, do so now .

Step 1:  Import your 3D image file or sequence into AfterEffects.

Step 2:  You can easily create a new composition that is the same aspect ratio and duration of the file you import, by dragging the file to the Create New Composition icon.

Step 3:  With the boxes layer selected in the Timeline, choose Effect > 3D Channel > Depth of Field.

In the Effect Controls panel, change the Focal Plane (the distance you want to focus on) and the Maximum Radius (the amount of blur) both to 5, and set the Focal Plane Thickness (the area that is in relatively sharp focus) to 10.

Step 4:  Click the stopwatch icon for the Focal Plane to set an initial keyframe.

Step 5:  Press the End key to go to the end of the Timeline.

Step 6:  Change the Focal Plane amount to -50.

Step 7:  Make a RAM Preview and marvel at your rack focus effect.

This looks pretty cool, but what if you wanted to insert other elements into this scene?  What if you wanted words to run between the aisle or a green screen actor to interact between the world?  You can do that too with the Depth Matte effect.

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Related Keywords:adobe after effects, depth matte, rack focus, depth of field, 3d, z-depth, schleicher, tutorial, after effects tutorial

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