Multi-Planing in After Effects

I’ve recently started following the awesome Adrian Sommeling on Facebook, his composites are amazing and best of all he doesn’t mind sharing his technique. What has interested me the most is the style in which he presents his BTS videos, he turns his photos into 3d images showing all of the separate layers (see here). I had seen this done before by Dave Hill but this time I thought “I have got to that a go” so found a couple of tutorials on the web such as this and dived into after effects. I will tell you this though, you certainly need some patience. After effects allows you to drop PSDs into the timeline and edit each individual layer separately, you can also move each layer within 3d space and fly around them with a virtual camera within that 3d space. To stagger the layers but keep their scale in proportion (obviously if you just staggered the layers without altering the scale those closer to the camera would be larger and those further away would be smaller) I used a plugin called PT_Multiplane. One click of this and my image was staggered in 3d space but all to scale, which to do manually would be a massive ball ache. Then I set a Keyframe at the start of the video with my virtual camera zoomed right in on the Z axis so that only the building was in view and set another keyframe with the entire picture in view at the end of the video. After effects then does the hard work for you by simulating the movement between the two keyframes, something I know to be called ‘Tweening’ in animation, but not sure if that’s what it is referred to in video. Although my example is not great it was more of a experiment and has opened up lots of possibilities of how I can implement the technique in my work. I would like to compile composites with the intention of animating them this way, i.e the still image slowly zooms out gradually revealing more and telling a story. Also it will be a great way to add a bit more interactivity to my BTS blogs just as Adrian Sommeling has done. I did make a few rookie mistakes, initially I just threw the PSD in without resizing or choosing the video size within after effects, did the camera movement animation then tried to render it. The image was 3500 x 3500, when HD is only 1920×1080 so as you can imagine the render time was something like 4hours, then after that the video file was so big that my laptop wouldn’t play it back!!! So I had to redo the entire video composite but this time making sure I had the size to a more respectable 720 x 720 px. The render this time was 1 minute, bit of a difference.

So expect to see a bit more after effects action from now on, it really is a powerful bit of software and something I would like to get more of a handle on.


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About androostain

Graphic Designer

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