Articles by: Topher Welsh
I am sure that all of you at one time or another have experimented in After Effects’ 3D world, and for beginners it can be quite the concept to wrap your head around. Along with being able to animate in 2D space, you can actually manipulate, move and place objects in Z space as well as the X and Y plane. Z space is measured by distance to and from the camera, so if you were to move something back in Z space it would appear further away than something further up on the Z plane.
Using this placement, you can rotate and place flat layers to create shapes and objects such as stages, streets, and even houses, given you know how to position correctly and efficiently. This is by no means a 3D modeling technique, just a little trick of the trade to spice up camera movements, and give your animations a sense of depth by placing objects in 3D space, and moving past them—like you would if you were to actually create the camera movement in real life.
Taking from this lesson in the 3D world of After Effects, I hope that you can delve deeper into the depths and create some amazing 2.5D animations on your own. Anything is really possible, and if you were able to utilize After Effects CS4’s new Photoshop Live 3D features you could add some 3D objects as well into your scenes to make them seem even more realistic such as cars parked on the street, 3D trees or even basketball hoops.
This was really created to be a primer to introduce you into the basics of After Effect’s 3D system, and to show you just how easy it is once you know the basics of how it works. If you liked this tutorial—or would like to see similar tutorials—please leave a comment, as well as if you have created anything using this technique! I would love to see what you have learned!
1. Video Copilot
Everyone who works within After Effects has heard of Andrew Kramer, so it is no surprise that he is at the top of this list. Andrew is a god when it comes to cutting edge tutorials in motion graphics and visual effects. His Sure Target preset has revolutionized the way you work with 3D cameras and the Demon Face and Car Hit tutorials have swept away novice After Effects artists and spun them into a frenzy of wanting to make cool videos. The Video Copilot blog and forums are a huge hit, and the products the website and team provide continue to be groundbreaking. Make sure you take a peak if you haven’t already. Get updates via twitter on VCP stuff by following @videocopilot.
Nick Campbell aka “The Gorilla” runs GreyScaleGorilla.com, a blog focusing on Nick’s life as a Motion Designer at Digital Kitchen in Chicago. Nick tries to get a GSGcast (what he calls his video blogs) out every day… and this guy couldn’t be more full of useful information. Expelling knowledge of After Effects and Cinema 4D, he has videos on “How to be Creative and Get Paid” to tutorials, to just random stories and projects he has done in the past. His new 5 Second Weekly Projects have become a huge hit in the mograph community prompting everyone to get out there and “make cool shit!” as Nick puts it. This is another everyday stop for me, as it should be for you. You can follow Nick’s twitter @nickvegas.
3. AE Tuts
AEtuts+ launched a couple of months ago, but it is already gaining steam very fast. With over 40 tutorials already published, they are becoming a very popular site with lots of great information. Part of the Envato Network and a sister site to the ever popular PSDtuts+, Nettuts+, Vectortuts+ and Audiotuts+, you know things are gonna be great. They have articles, tutorials, presets, freebies and a bunch of other stuff as well. Best thing about this site, is it is community-based, so you can write articles or publish a tutorial yourself! Run by Lloyd Alvarez of AEscripts.com (further down) you can follow their twitter @AEtuts.
4. Video Hive
The Hive is the official blog of VideoHive.net, the online marketplace for motion design elements, .AEP projects and stock footage. The Hive is run by Michael Capitelli, and it is full of tons of techniques for making better work. When I say that, I mean that whether you shoot still photography, video, work only in After Effects as a motion designer, or composite as a VFX artist, there is something on this blog for you. Make sure you follow their twitter @VideoHive.
5. AE Portal News
AE Portal News is your best bet to find the most updated news in the After Effects world, hand down. Run by Rich Young, this blog has daily updates of sales on plugins, when AE tutorials are posted, and extensive insights to all kinds of different aspects of After Effects, not to mention there is a gigantic humungo link list to anything and everything After Effects in the sidebar. With over 4 years of information all archived, there is usually an answer to a question posted somewhere in the depths of this blog.
Mograph.net is a great community for asking questions, posting work, and just hanging out with fellow mographers. Attracting the professional community from around the world, you can always count on getting a professional answer or insight to something that you post. Most of the people on the board are industry professionals, and know their stuff. I highly recommend this site if you have questions, looking for feedback on a work in progress, or just want to have an intelligent converstion.
Stu Maschwitz, owner of the late VFX compay, The Orphanage, has worked on a ton of movies including The Spirit, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Sin City, as well as many others. Well known by many in the mograph/vfx community, Stu aka @5tu on twitter, and his blog ProLost has become a great resource for production tips, photography insight, and lately he has taken a lot of interest to the HD video aspects of the new DSLR cameras. Even though his blog isn’t updated daily, I highly recommend following @5tu on twitter for his daily endeavors and awesome tweets on production tips and the like.
8. The Hypa Blog
The Hypa Blog, run by Tim Clapham, Cinema 4D professor at FXphd.com and the upcoming host of the new Making It Look Great 6 training dvd has a great blog about Cinema 4D and its uses with motion graphics design. Cinema 4D and After Effects go so well together, and this is a great blog for tips and tricks within Cinema 4D. With over 11 years design experience, Tim and Hypa.tv have a lot to bring to the table. You can follow Tim on twitter @hypatim.
9. Motion Works
Speaking of Making It Look Great, the man behind the series, John Dickinson has a killer site as well, with a fresh redesign a couple months ago. Motionworks, is one of those sites I have followed since I started in motion graphics, and he continues to impress me with what he puts out. Working as a motion designer at Foxtel Box Office in Australia, JD demonstrates techniques, tips and tutorials that we all can benefit from. John’s work is great, and is always getting better. His niche of work is mostly of what a lot people are looking to learn from… motion design for advertising and television. JD’s is a must bookmark site, you can also follow him on twitter @John_Dickinson.
10. AE Scripts
Llyody Alvarez, as I mentioned before is the editor for AEtuts+, but before that was even thought of, he created AEscripts.com. His site, a renowned location to find cutting edge scripts for After Effects such as Magnum the Edit Detector or the amazing BG Renderer, has become one of the first places you think of… hence the name, AEscripts.com. You can also find links to other AE and scripts site, as well as possibly buy Lloyd a beer if you are feeling generous! You can follow Lloyd and AEscripts.com on twitter @aescripts.
11. Motion Script
If you haven’t messed around with scripts in your workflow, you are really missing out. They are a huge timesaver. Here is a another site called Motionscript.com, run by Dan Ebberts, which provides scripts and expressions as well as lots of documentation on how to create your own. Scripting is hard work, but there is some amazing stuff that you can make. This is a must-see site if you are looking to get into expressions and scripting.
Alright, bear with me, this is the last scripting resource! I know a lot of people shy away from them, but they really are a great add-in to After Effects. The AEnhancers site is in forum-form, and has library, discussions, requests, and tutorials on how to use and how to make scripts. This site also has an expressions library as well so make sure you check that out as well.
Harry Frank is a pro with Trapcode Particular, and his site, Graymachine, really displays that. Recently featured in the User Gallery for Trapcode Particular, Harry’s site continues to be a great resource for downloads for Trapcode Form, Particular, and useful articles on working in the business. Undergoing its third redesign, and Harry relocating to Los Angelas to work for Truxton Pictures, we can expect some great things from him in the coming months. You can follow Harry on twitter @graymachine.
Base80 is a pretty cool blog with a nice table of contents. Its almost like a never ending book of techniques for Cinema 4D. There are a ton of quick tricks and tips for working faster, smarter, and more efficiently within Cinema 4D and Xpresso. You can follow Base80.com on twitter @base80.
15. Creative Cow
Did you really think that the Creative COW wouldn’t make this list? It is possibly one of the biggest sources of information on the internet to deal with any motion graphics, graphic design or video platform. If you are one of the few that haven’t wandered the COW, they have a multitude of tutorials on any program you could want along with 11 podcasts, a magazine (online and print), training DVDs, and a good 100 or so forums crawling with professionals. This is one community to bookmark, because if you can’t find an answer to a question anywhere else, this is where to come to speak to the gods.
When I first saw MaxAfter.com, I thought… oh a Video Copilot copycat, but holy cow was I wrong. Shaoib Khan produces some very cool looking animations like the earth from the movie “Knowing” and the bullet from the movie “Wanted“. Shaoib uses mostly After effects and 3Ds Max (see where he got the name?) to create most of his tutorials, but mainly After Effects.
Maltaannon aka Jerzy Drozda Jr. has a ton of great tutorials on his site as well as what he likes to call CE’s or CustomEffects. They are like plugins, but coded differently. Anyways, he just came out with CETextRamp, which creates color ramps at the top and bottom of your text, no matter if you resize or whatever. Point is, Maltaannon is full of cool techniques, tools, and some cool information. He has just started another site called fineCG.com that deals in Motion Design/Visual Effects. You can follow Maltaannon on twitter @maltaannon.
18. Ninja Crayon
Ko Maruyama, who also runs Mac Animation Pro, is Ninja Crayon. This is a daily/weekly update in the world of motion graphics and visual effects. What plugins are on sale, what things are being given away in Cinema 4D land… that kind of thing. Ko also has a huge collection of 300+ After Effects tutorials he has created over the years, and that list is ever growing. He is well versed in the ways of the C4D as well, and he has some good tutorials over at his Vimeo channel. You can follow Ko Maruyama on twitter @ninjacrayon.
Possibly one of the best sites to look to for inspirational videos, Motionographer has daily updates of insanely spectacular works of video art. I like to check here every day to see what the popular post houses are cooking up, and what I can expect to see on the television when I watch my primetime. Motionographer also has articles, jobs, and forums for you to join in the discussion. To get the latest updates from Motionographer, follow them on twitter @motionographer.
20. Pro Video Coalition
I like Pro Video Coalition a lot. You know why? Because they have a sub-channel for everyone. 3D, Post Production, Motion Graphics, VFX, Audio, Cameras… the list goes on. Each channel has a seperate set of blog posts that get updated, but on the PVC mainpage, those posts are reflected throughout the entire site. PVC is community based being contributed by some of the top names in the industry.
21. The Mograph Blog
I found The Mograph Blog from a tweet about the post on Mastering The Render Queue. From there looking through the posts, I realized I had just hit a goldmine of awesome tips. Run by Chris Kelley, The Mograph Blog dabbles in and out of After Effects and Cinema 4D, with a few tutorials here and there. You can follow The Mograph Blog on twitter @themographblog.
22. Red Giant Software
If you are a mograph artist, you have probably encounted Trapcode Particular a few times or the rest of the Trapcode Arsenal… or perhaps you are more partial to Primatte Keyer Pro? Either way you roll, they are owned by Red Giant Software, and the Red Room Blog is where its at. News on Trapcode Particualr v2.0, new tutorials, and news about whats going on with the company and the plugins they develop. This is a good site to frequent every few days to see what is new or what is up and coming. You can follow Red Giant Software on twitter @redgianttweet.
23. Studio Daily
Studio Daily is a one stop shop for finding job boards, mini-sites, inspiration, tutorials, training, and lots more. They are a very up to date news resource posting reviews on software, behind the scenes reports on movies and commercials and give you a great look into the going ons of the mograph/vfx world. You can find Studio Daily on twitter @studiodaily.
24. AE Freemart
One of the best places to find free tutorials, presets, plugins or anything else you might want for After Effects is Toolfarm’s AE Freemart. The site has been around for a while, and it has accumulated a ton of free stuff over the years. You can find links to tutorials or presets on outside sites complete with descriptions on what it is. Things like Nahuel’s AutoTitles Preset or brand new video tutorials by Rob Birnholz are just a few of the many lovely gifts the AEFreemart comes bearing. You can get updates from Toolfarm as well as AEFreemart on twitter by following @toolfarm.
25. Adobe TV
If you want to go to heart of where some of the best training can be found, you are going to want to check out Adobe TV. With libraries of training on every Adobe product available, and constantly updated every day, this is one resource you will never grow old of. Online seminars that are held monthly are recorded and put up for later viewing on Adobe TV as well, as lectures and demonstrations given at live seminars. You can follow Adobe TV on twitter @AdobeTV.
26. General Specialist
Even though Jonas Hummelstrand doesn’t update his blog much, when he does, you always remember why you bookmarked him. A swedish mograph/visual effects artist, Jonas works within the full Adobe Creative Suite, as well as Cinema 4D, 3Ds Max and Maya. His blog, aptly named “General Specialist” provides a look into the mind of a person who knows his stuff in this business. He has some great posts about RED cameras, building custom camera jibs, and lots more. You can follow Jonas on twitter @hummelstrand.
27. Digital Tutors
Most people have heard of Digital Tutors’ training DVDs, but a lot of people aren’t aware of theyir library of 500+ free tutorials available online. The Daily Dose isn’t really a blog, but is updated daily with a free tutorial, technique, or tip in one of 19 software categories, plucked directly from their training DVDs. Lately they have been getting an After Effects tutorial or two in each week, and the rest are usually based on a 3D program. But we all love free, so we can’t complain!
Alright, I know this may seem like a shameless plug on my part, but even if this wasn’t my site, I think it should be on this list. VisualFXtuts.com is run by me, Topher, and is a site that collects all the tutorials in the mograph and visual effects blogosphere and posts them to one direct location. Checking around 200 sites, almost daily, you can just bookmark here, and link directly to where the tutorials are located. Also posted are presets, free stock footage, .AEP and 3D project files, textures, and pretty much anything else you could want. You can follow VisualFXtuts.com on twitter @visualfxtuts.