Game Development Reference
THE 3D CHANNEL EFFECTS
We're going to start out by looking at the 3D Channel effects.
Not for any reason, other than they come fi rst alphabetically, and
we're covering these effects in the same order they appear in After
The 3D Channel effects serve a very unique purpose in After
Effects. All of them deal with fi les output from dedicated 3D
applications such as Maya, 3DS Max, or Cinema 4D. Contrary to
assumptions, the 3D Channel effects do not aid in creating 3D
objects. Unless you have access to 3D applications like the ones
previously mentioned, or fi les made from such, you may want to
skip this chapter.
After Effects can import certain 2D fi les from 3D programs that
contain 3D data. This 3D data is stored in additional channels
that store information about separate objects in the 3D scene,
such as object ID, material ID, surface normal data, and more.
But perhaps the most common (and important) bit of 3D chan-
nel data in these special 2D fi les is the storage of the 3D depth
information. The 3D Channel effects in After Effects can take this
3D channel data and use it to create 3D fog, create a depth of fi eld
blur, isolate individual objects, and much more.
So, what 3D fi les does After Effects understand? You should
know that you usually can't import 3D project fi les into After
Effects (e.g., MAX fi les from 3DS Max). To be used in the 3D
Channel effects in After Effects, they must be exported in your
3D program. You can store data in RLA, RPF, Softimage PIC/ZPIC
fi les, and Electric Image EI/EIZ formats. When importing 3D
channel data from Softimage and Electric Image, note that you
still import only the PIC or EI fi les, respectively. The ZPIC and EIZ
fi les store the depth information, but they cannot be imported
into After Effects. However, After Effects will be able to read the
3D data if the ZPIC fi le is in the same folder as the imported PIC
fi le. The same holds true for EIZ and EI fi les. Consult the help
documentation of your 3D program to learn how to export 3D
channel data in the above fi le formats.