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External Compositing Tag in After Effects issues

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alexander friedmanExternal Compositing Tag in After Effects issues
by on Jun 24, 2012 at 3:52:46 am

So we all know the usual rotate 90 degrees in After Effects to fix an external compositing tag's position.

But in this project, I have the external compositing tag's pumping out solids for me to use. Now for some reason, the solid's have constant keyframes, so I can't just rotate every single keyframe 90 degrees.

The project is basically 5 planes (representing video screens) following a circle spline as it rotates. The planes are set on the circle spline using align to spline and the circle spline is set up with a rotation keyframe animation.

Here's a visual

Here's the C4D file

Any ideas what I could do to remedy this?

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Shawn MarshallRe: External Compositing Tag in After Effects issues
by on Jun 24, 2012 at 7:47:19 pm

What I usually do in this situation is parent my video box layers in After Effects to the solid layers exported from C4D, then re-orient the AE video layers so they're facing the way I want. Because I have to do this a lot I usually just export nulls instead of solids from C4D, figuring I'll be parenting my AE layers to those nulls and adjusting the rotations as needed.

Shawn Marshall
Marshall Arts Motion Graphics

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Darby EdelenRe: External Compositing Tag in After Effects issues
by on Jun 26, 2012 at 2:28:57 am

I may be mistaken, but the keyframes on your solids should be on the Rotation X, Y and Z properties. Your Orientation should still be 0° all the way around. Have you tried making the 90° rotation using orientation?

Darby Edelen

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Jeremy AllenRe: External Compositing Tag in After Effects issues
by on Jun 27, 2012 at 8:54:12 pm

Rotating 90˚ in After Effects is a work-around that only works sometimes, depending on the complexity of the project as you have figured out.

You would save yourself alot of confusion and frustration by knowing how to solve the problem before you create the problem. The best I've been able to figure out is this: Your planes always need to be in the +Z orientation in C4D to work properly in After Effects. You can still rotate the planes to any angle in C4D as long as the orientation remains +Z. I've done tests with planes at all different orientations and rotation values and the only thing that works consistently is when the plane is set to +Z.

Also, it is helpful to know that the orientation in C4D is reversed in After Effects. So if your Z axis is pointing away from the camera in C4D, it will be pointing towards the camera in After Effects. So if you ever replace a null in After Effects with a picture or video and it comes in flipped around, that's why.

In your particular case, I couldn't make it work with the planes in +z orientation while using the align to spline tag. No matter what I tried, the planes would not face outward, instead going parallel with the circle if that makes any sense. So I had to re-work it using a cloner set to radial, and then animate the offset to create the rotating "carousel" of video screens. I am not a C4D guru, so someone with more experience may be able to do it with the Align to Spline tag.

I've uploaded my solution, let me know if I missed something or this isn't what you were going for.

8core MacPro, 3.0 GHZ, 18GB RAM, OSX 10.5.8

C4D 12
AE CS5 (
FCP 7.0.3
QT 7.6.4

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