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Work in 3D Design Animation Space | Adobe

  1. After Effects User Guide
  2. Beta releases
    1. Beta Program Overview
    2. After Effects Beta Home
    3. Features in Beta
      1. Import and add 3D models to your composition (Beta)
      2. Image-Based Lighting (Beta)
      3. Extract and animate cameras and lights from 3D models (Beta)
  3. Getting started
    1. Get started with After Effects
    2. What's new in After Effects 
    3. Release Notes | After Effects
    4. After Effects system requirements
    5. Keyboard shortcuts in After Effects
    6. Supported File formats | After Effects
    7. Hardware recommendations
    8. After Effects for Apple silicon
    9. Planning and setup
  4. Workspaces
    1. General user interface items
    2. Get to know After Effects interface
    3. Workflows
    4. Workspaces, panels, and viewers
  5. Projects and compositions
    1. Projects
    2. Composition basics
    3. Precomposing, nesting, and pre-rendering
    4. View detailed performance information with the Composition Profiler
    5. CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer
  6. Importing footage
    1. Preparing and importing still images
    2. Importing from After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro
    3. Importing and interpreting video and audio
    4. Preparing and importing 3D image files
    5. Importing and interpreting footage items
    6. Working with footage items
    7. Detect edit points using Scene Edit Detection
    8. XMP metadata
  7. Text and Graphics
    1. Text
      1. Formatting characters and the Character panel
      2. Text effects
      3. Creating and editing text layers
      4. Formatting paragraphs and the Paragraph panel
      5. Extruding text and shape layers
      6. Animating text
      7. Examples and resources for text animation
      8. Live Text Templates
    2. Motion Graphics
      1. Work with Motion Graphics templates in After Effects
      2. Use expressions to create drop-down lists in Motion Graphics templates
      3. Work with Essential Properties to create Motion Graphics templates
      4. Replace images and videos in Motion Graphics templates and Essential Properties
      5. Animate faster and easier using the Properties panel
  8. Drawing, Painting, and Paths
    1. Overview of shape layers, paths, and vector graphics
    2. Paint tools: Brush, Clone Stamp, and Eraser
    3. Taper shape strokes
    4. Shape attributes, paint operations, and path operations for shape layers
    5. Use Offset Paths shape effect to alter shapes
    6. Creating shapes
    7. Create masks
    8. Remove objects from your videos with the Content-Aware Fill panel
    9. Roto Brush and Refine Matte
  9. Layers, Markers, and Camera
    1. Selecting and arranging layers
    2. Blending modes and layer styles
    3. 3D layers
    4. Layer properties
    5. Creating layers
    6. Managing layers
    7. Layer markers and composition markers
    8. Cameras, lights, and points of interest
  10. Animation, Keyframes, Motion Tracking, and Keying
    1. Animation
      1. Animation basics
      2. Animating with Puppet tools
      3. Managing and animating shape paths and masks
      4. Animating Sketch and Capture shapes using After Effects
      5. Assorted animation tools
      6. Work with Data-driven animation
    2. Keyframe
      1. Keyframe interpolation
      2. Setting, selecting, and deleting keyframes
      3. Editing, moving, and copying keyframes
    3. Motion tracking
      1. Tracking and stabilizing motion
      2. Face Tracking
      3. Mask Tracking
      4. Mask Reference
      5. Speed
      6. Time-stretching and time-remapping
      7. Timecode and time display units
    4. Keying
      1. Keying
      2. Keying effects
  11. Transparency and Compositing
    1. Compositing and transparency overview and resources
    2. Alpha channels and masks
    3. Track Mattes and Traveling Mattes
  12. Adjusting color
    1. Color basics
    2. Color management
    3. Color Correction effects
    4. OpenColorIO and ACES color management
  13. Effects and Animation Presets
    1. Effects and animation presets overview
    2. Effect list
    3. Effect Manager
    4. Simulation effects
    5. Stylize effects
    6. Audio effects
    7. Distort effects
    8. Perspective effects
    9. Channel effects
    10. Generate effects
    11. Transition effects
    12. The Rolling Shutter Repair effect
    13. Blur and Sharpen effects
    14. 3D Channel effects
    15. Utility effects
    16. Matte effects
    17. Noise and Grain effects
    18. Detail-preserving Upscale effect
    19. Obsolete effects
  14. Expressions and Automation
    1. Expressions
      1. Expression basics
      2. Understanding the expression language
      3. Using expression controls
      4. Syntax differences between the JavaScript and Legacy ExtendScript expression engines
      5. Editing expressions
      6. Expression errors
      7. Using the Expressions editor
      8. Use expressions to edit and access text properties
      9. Expression language reference
      10. Expression examples
    2. Automation
      1. Automation
      2. Scripts
  15. Immersive video, VR, and 3D
    1. Construct VR environments in After Effects
    2. Apply immersive video effects
    3. Compositing tools for VR/360 videos
    4. Tracking 3D camera movement
    5. Work in 3D Design Space
    6. 3D Transform Gizmos
    7. Do more with 3D animation
    8. Preview changes to 3D designs real time with the Mercury 3D engine
    9. Add responsive design to your graphics 
  16. Views and Previews
    1. Previewing
    2. Video preview with Mercury Transmit
    3. Modifying and using views
  17. Rendering and Exporting
    1. Basics of rendering and exporting
    2. H.264 Encoding in After Effects
    3. Export an After Effects project as an Adobe Premiere Pro project
    4. Converting movies
    5. Multi-frame rendering
    6. Automated rendering and network rendering
    7. Rendering and exporting still images and still-image sequences
    8. Using the GoPro CineForm codec in After Effects
  18. Working with other applications
    1. Dynamic Link and After Effects
    2. Working with After Effects and other applications
    3. Sync Settings in After Effects
    4. Creative Cloud Libraries in After Effects
    5. Plug-ins
    6. Cinema 4D and Cineware
  19. Collaboration:, and Team Projects
    1. Collaboration in Premiere Pro and After Effects
      1. Install and activate
      2. Use with Premiere Pro and After Effects
      3. Frequently asked questions
    3. Team Projects
      1. Get Started with Team Projects
      2. Create a Team Project
      3. Collaborate with Team Projects
  20. Memory, storage, performance
    1. Memory and storage
    2. How After Effects handles low memory issues while previewing    
    3. Improve performance
    4. Preferences
    5. GPU and GPU driver requirements for After Effects
  21. Knowledge Base
    1. Known issues
    2. Fixed issues
    3. Frequently asked questions
    4. After Effects and macOS Ventura
    5. How After Effects handles low memory issues while previewing

Use the intuitive toolset to help you design and composite 3D content faster and more accurately, natively in After Effects.

Use the intuitive toolset to help you design and composite 3D content faster and more accurately, natively in After Effects. With all the 3D manipulation controls in one space, you don't have to constantly jump back and forth between 3D applications to get a single shot.

This design space has the following features:

With the camera tools, you can always move around the scene to see where things should be, how they can be moved, and then you can use the 3D Transform Gizmo to move them accordingly.

If you are new to working with 3D in After Effects, or if you want to learn the basics, see Work with 3D.

Activate the 3D Design Space

Turn 3D switch on
Turn 3D switch on

  1. In the Timeline, enable the 3D switch for layer(s) you want to manipulate in 3 dimensions.
camera tools in toolbar
Camera tools in toolbar

This activates the 3D Design Space. The toolbar displays three camera controls - Orbit, Pan, and Dolly. Each of these controls contains multiple interaction points that you can use to manipulate objects in your scene in 3D space.

2. Click a 3D layer in the Timeline to use the Transform Gizmo that enables you to rotate, scale, and position a layer with a single tool.

3D Transform Gizmo
3D Transform Gizmo

Create 3D Bins

When multiple 3D layers are placed together, you create 3D bins. They are groups of 3D layers that render together. When you place a 2D layer between two 3D layers, you create separate bins that will render independently in 3D space. See Binning indicators for 3D layers.

Camera controls to navigate in 3D

Use the camera controls to quickly move around 3D space immediately after turning a 2D layer into a 3D layer. 

Work with the different camera controls

Each of the camera controls have multiple interaction points that you can use to view and manipulate the objects in your scene. These controls have editable default settings. If you are coming from a different 3D application, you can change these defaults and save them for later use.

Orbit controls

The default is set to Orbit Around Cursor.

Pan controls
Pan controls

The default is set to Pan Under Cursor.

Dolly controls
Dolly controls

The default is set to Dolly Toward Cursor.

1/2/3 keys are used for switching camera tools/controls (3D preferences). Use Shift-1/2/3 to cycle through each camera tools/control options.

You can also access the camera controls with the Alt (Windows)/Opt (macOS) key.

Add a camera to your scene

After Effects allows you to view your layers in 3D space as soon as you start navigating. Once you are ready for a shot, add a camera to your scene by selecting View > Create Camera from 3D View. This creates a camera in your timeline based on your current perspective. You can further add multiple cameras to your scene based on various viewpoints.

Default camera
Default camera

You can customize how different cameras move by selecting the different modes from the three camera controls. For example, if you want your camera to orbit around a scene by default, change the settings accordingly.

Use hotkeys to switch between controls

You can switch and navigate between the different camera controls seamlessly using the hotkeys (keyboard keys) - 1, 2, 3. You can edit the hotkey settings in the 3D Preference dialog.

You can also modify hotkeys in the visual keyboard shortcut editor. See Visual Keyboard Shortcut Editor.

3D Transform Gizmos

transform gizmo

Use the 3D Transform Gizmo to scale, position, and rotate 3D layers within a single tool. It offers you all the space manipulation tools in one. It works similarly to Dimension, where it allows you to transform each of the axis within the same tool. You can eliminate the need to go into separate properties like position, scale, and rotate to manipulate these.

To use it, follow the steps in the Open the 3D Design Space section.

To learn more about it, see 3D Transform Gizmos.

Import 3D model

  This feature is currently in beta
Beta features are now available for development, testing, and feedback. For help, visit beta support community.

With After Effects 23.0 and above versions, you can import your 3D models directly into your project and drop them into your composite alongside other 2D and 3D layers. Learn more about how to import and add 3D models to your composition.

 Extract cameras and lights from 3D models

  This feature is currently in beta
Beta features are now available for development, testing, and feedback. For help, visit beta support community.

Extracting cameras and lights in After Effects can help you quickly recreate the scene you created using your 3D modeling application. You can extract cameras and lights from GLB and GLTF models in composition and animate them. 

3D Draft Preview

Get real time rendering of the changes you make to your 3D designs within After Effects. Backed with the faster and more efficient Mercury 3D engine, it replaces the OpenGL Fast Draft engine to give you consistent, real-time previews throughout the creative process. In motion design, the speed of iterating and experimenting is critical for making creative choices. Use the Draft preview to reduce the lag time in previewing, thus reducing the time between idea, action, and result. You can turn it on using the Draft 3D button in the composition toolbar.

3D Ground Plane

The 3D Ground Plane keeps you oriented and gives you a sense of space while you navigate in Draft Preview mode, providing a visual cue to help position your cameras, lights, and 3D layers in relationship to one another. 

When Draft 3D is enabled, a new Ground Plane button in the toolbar at the bottom of the Composition panel gets enabled by default. Use it to enable or disable a ground plane in the comp’s 3D space.

For more information, see Preview changes to 3D designs in real time with the Mercury 3D Draft Preview.

Extended Viewer

The Extended Viewer allows you to view the 3D content outside the composition frame boundaries. Switch back to the standard frame view when you need to see your composition’s final look.

In the image below, use the slider to see your view in a standard frame and with Extended Viewer enabled.

Extended Viewer not enabled Extended Viewer enabled

Move the slider to see the how the content shows outside the composition frame with and without Extended Viewer

To enable the Extended Viewer:

  1. Turn on the Draft 3D button in the Composition panel toolbar, the Extended Viewer button appears on the right, next to the Ground Plane button. Use it to enable or disable the Extended Viewer. 
  2. To change the opacity of the extended view, click and hold the button, and use the slider to change the value.


  • When Extended Viewer is enabled, effects applied to collapsed precomps may cause the layer to get cut off at the composition boundary.

Do more with your 3D animations

After Effects offers various capabilities to modify, edit, and enhance your 3D animations and 3D space. To learn more, see 3D animation settings.

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