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Stereoscopic 3D in After Effects CS5.5

The new release (with some judicious adjustments) makes it easier to create easier-to-watch stereo scenes from 3D compositions.

You may remember our blog post on the “inherent” problems with stereoscopic 3D that famed film editor Walter Murch pointed out in an open letter to film critic Roger Ebert. We took Murch’s comments as inspiration to explore workflows in the latest release of After Effects that might work around some of Murch’s concerns: Namely, getting the eyes and brain to converge and focus on the same object (preferably one the same distance from the viewer as the screen).

As part of our extensive video review of many of the new and improved features in After Effects CS5.5, we created a video on one potential solution to the above problem; it can be viewed at the top of this page. Hopefully this will help avoid a few headaches (pun intended) for you and your viewers.

One viewer over on AdobeTV felt that our suggested solutions (turn on Convergence, and try to make it at the same point as the physical screen; also turn on Depth of Field Blur and make the Focal Plane the same as the Convergence point) were presented as absolutes, and pointed out cases where breaking these “rules” work just fine. We agree – it’s shades of gray (with the occasional color thrown in); not black and white. That said, we have found those suggestions are a good starting point to produce pleasing results, typically improving the viewing experience by giving the viewer – consciously or unconsciously – clues as to what to lock onto, especially given the defaults in AE CS5.5 that include both Convergence and Depth of Field Blur starting in the Off position. However, you can often vary from this alignment with little or no discomfort. Or, experiment and develop your own “rules” based on your specific content and aesthetic!

The content contained in our books, videos, blogs, and articles for other sites are all copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.


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Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS,…
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