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3D animation settings

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Do more with your 3D animation compositions by using the following capabilities:

3D Preference dialog

3D preference dialog
3D preference dialog

You can change the 3D preferences from the After Effects > Preferences > 3D menu.

  • Camera Naviagation: Use Shift-1/2/3 to cycle through each camera tools/control options.
    • Uncheck the option of hotkeys for camera and transform gizmo navigation. If the option is unchecked, After Effects uses the keys as shortcuts to add markers. It deprioritizes camera tools with these hotkeys. When the hotkeys are enabled, the marker commands are deactivated.
    • Uncheck to deactivate the Left/middle/Right mouse clicks for camera navigation when the alt/option key is pressed. If it is unchecked, After Effects uses these mouse clicks for wireframes.
      • Camera Manipulation point: Select between None, Indicator, and Directional Indicator.
  • Camera Navigation - Dolly:
    • Mouse Scroll Wheel Behavior: Select between Magnify Composition, Dolly Camera, and Reverse dolly camera.
    • Drag Direction: Select between Normal, and Reverse.

Use the improved composition panel toolbar for seamless 3D editing and creation

The composition toolbar with 3D turned off (top) and turned on (bottom)
The composition toolbar with 3D turned off (top) and turned on (bottom)

After Effects enables you to work seamlessly across your 3D designs by displaying only the appropriate controls as per your current design work. You can avoid having to constantly enable/disable a large number of settings as you switch back and forth, thus saving time and effort.

To make your 3D designing more convinient and time-saving, the row of buttons at the bottom of the Composition panel streamlined and re-organized to displays only the most used features. 3D options are now contextual and won’t get in your way when you don’t have 3D layers in your comp. Unlike in previous versions, there are settings that are not accessible from the toolbar, such as Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction. You can still access them from the Composition window menu.

This enables you to work seamlessly across both 2D and 3D, with the appropriate UX to guide your design work, without having to constantly enable or disable a large number of settings as you switch back and forth.

For more information, see Improved composition toolbar for 3D designing.

Edit keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts
Edit keyboard shortcuts

You can customize the keyboard shortcuts to make them work for different camera navigations and transform gizmos such as when you want to orbit your camera or cameras around an object from the center of the frame or around the object itself. To learn how to edit the keyboard shortcuts, see Visual Keyboard Shortcut Editor.

Binning indicators for 3D layers

Binning indicators for 3D layers show the 3D layers that render together in the same 3D space, which allows them to intersect and cast shadows on each other. The group of 3D layers is called a Bin.

An outline around the 3D icons indicates which layers are in the same 3D bin and thus rendered together.

These 3D binning indicators give you a visual map of how After Effects composites 2D and 3D layers together. When a comp contains both 2D and 3D layers, their order in the layer stack matters: contiguous 3D layers render together in the same 3D space prior to being composited with 2D layers.

Bin Breakers

There are a few different types of layers that can cause bins to separate, they are called Bin Breakers:

  • 2D layers except for null layers 
  • 3D adjustment layers 
  • 3D layers with layer styles 
  • Nested composition layers with the following conditions: 
    • The 3D layer switch is enabled
    • The Collapse Transformation switch is enabled
    •  The layer has a layer mask or a track matte

Non-Bin Breakers

A few layers display a dotted line around the 3D icon, such as Null layers, Camera, or Light that are placed in-between other 3D layers. The dotted lines indicate that this layer doesn’t participate in the bin, but it doesn’t break the bin. Cameras and lights, for example, are inherently 3D and affect 3D layers in the comp, therefore, they don’t directly participate in bins.

Disabling a 3D layer’s visibility - turning off the layer’s visibility eyeball switch removes that layer from the bin. It may break the bin or not participate, depending on what’s above or below it.

Best practices

Stacking 2D layers between 3D layers create multiple 3D bins. Be aware that layers in different bins do not intersect or cast shadows upon each other. So, create 3D bins keeping this experience in mind.

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