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Layer Tools is Released!

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Zax Dow
Layer Tools is Released!
on Mar 11, 2007 at 1:18:12 am

Zaxwerks is proud to announce a new set of plug-ins. It's called Layer Tools and is a set of three plug-ins which enables the After Effects artist to move and control 3D layers in ways that are usually very difficult and time consuming.

The set is only $149 and here is a link to the web page .

Below are descriptions of what these plug-ins can do.




One of the common problems facing motion graphics artists is that when they bring their Photoshop projects into After Effects and begin moving the layers back in 3D space, the further away from the camera you move the layers the smaller they become. This problem can destroy a great Photoshop project or force you to work with the layers so close together that you might as well not even be working in 3D.

The Z-Distribution tool solves this problem. As you move layers away from the camera this plug-in automatically compensates for perspective. The image remains the exact same screen size after the move as before. This opens up your design options like never before. You can move layers far far away from the camera or even move them closer to the camera. The only way you'd know that they had moved in 3D space is when you move the camera off-axis or animate the layers away from their home position.

This plug-in handles many different cases. The comp can be a different size from the layers; each layer can have its own center of rotation; the comp can use non-square pixels; the layers can be scaled; the camera can be pointed in any direction; the objects can be at any angle to the camera; the layers can have keyframes already; the plug-in keeps things simple and doesn't require using scripts, nulls or knowing math; the list goes on and on, the basic point being that this is a professional tool made for the widest range of cases.

A second use for the Z-Distribution tool is to create that cool effect where the comp appears to be full of random pictures. As the camera flies through the comp the pictures are scattered here and there with none of them relating to each other. Finally the camera slows down and hits its home base and at that time you see the pictures converge to make up a single larger image. Here's a link to an example movie showing this effect.


Fit & Face

So here you are, you're working through a project with all of these cool 3D layers flying around and you get to the point where you need to make one of those layers fly right up to the camera and fit perfectly in the comp window so you can do a match-frame cut to a movie clip. The problem is the camera is now off-angle and the 3D layer is off-angle so getting those two things to match up becomes a major headache. However, if you had the Zaxwerks Fit & Face plug-in this problem would be solved by a single click.

The Fit & Face plug-in enables you to make any 3D layer exactly fit the comp window. The plug-in has three different methods for doing the fitting. One method rotates the layer and moves it closer to the camera until it fits. A second method keeps the layer the same distance from the camera and adjusts the scale of the layer until it fits. The third method leaves the layer where it's at and moves the camera instead.

These three methods of fitting give you total freedom in your design execution. If the camera needs to stay where it's at, you'd move the layer (Fit To View By Translating). If the layer needs to stay where it's at, you'd move the camera (Fit Camera To Layer). If both need to stay where they are then you'd scale the layer (Fit To View By Scaling). All bases are covered.

The Fit & Face plug-in can also make any group of 3D layers face another 3D layer. This is not like the Auto-Orient feature in After Effects where once you turn it on it's always on. The Fit tool lets you quickly set keyframes which can be edited at any time, plus you can make the selected 3D layers face *any* layer in the project, not just a camera. Doing the Face operation is simply a matter of selecting the layers and clicking the button. No muss, no fuss. Really fast.


Layer Manipulator

You know, it's great having 3D layers in After Effects but when it comes time to working with those layers in 3D space, things can get a bit difficult at times. The After Effects workflow limits you to moving one layer at a time and if you're doing simple stuff that's fine, but as soon as you want to rotate two or more layers at the same time you're stuck.

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Jon Okerstrom
Re: Layer Tools is Released!
on Mar 15, 2007 at 1:12:44 am

The Z distribution movie drives home how great that one feature really is...

doing multiplane photograph animation just got a whole lot more interesting with these plug-ins.


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