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Freeform in precomps

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Erik Bruhwiler
Freeform in precomps
on Aug 6, 2011 at 11:45:05 pm

Is there a way to use Freeform to add displacement to a layer that is in a precomp in the main composition where the camera is located, and have the displacement respond to that camera?

That is, I have a composition with a camera. Inside that composition is a precomp layer. Inside that precomp layer is a layer with a Freeform displacement effect.

It appears that the Freeform effect must be applied to a layer that is in the main comp with the camera.

I did try a trick with a camera in the precomp that is linked to the camera in the main comp, but I may want the layer inside a precomp inside a precomp (i.e. double nested), and limitations arise with that trick pretty quickly. Ideally, I would apply displacement to any layer nested as deeply as I'd like, just like the displacement filter works, but with the full 3D displacement that Freeform allows.

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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Freeform in precomps
on Aug 7, 2011 at 2:53:16 am

If all the precomps are collapsed, the 'final comp's' camera will take precedence. There is also a side-effect to precomps and Freeform and its displacement mapping procedure.

I suggest that you pre-render your precomps for sanity's sake.This of course covers all AE compound effects (especially those within the distort category) and their collapsed precomps.


Intensive AE & Mocha Training in Asia.

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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Freeform in precomps
on Aug 7, 2011 at 9:51:50 am

I agree with Roland. Pre-render and you'll have a simpler faster comp. This will however limit the amount of freedom you have to change the camera moves as your project moves along, which calls for a lot of planning and pre-visualization.
One other thing worth mentioning is that FreeForm Pro is way faster than the regular Free Form. It will allow for complex comps and precomps with nested cameras and still respond pretty quickly.
You can download a demo from and some test projects to see the difference for yourself.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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