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3d stacking problem in AE

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Tom Durham
3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:25:18 pm

Hello folks,

Big comp. Lots of layers. All 3d and moving around.

Everything is moving around correctly in 3d, but for some reason AE is rendering the comp based on STACKING order among layers within the comp. So even if something is closer to camera in 3d, if the layer behind it is ABOVE it on the stacking order, it renders on top.

I've experienced this before but I can't remember how and why. Any ideas?

thanks!

Tom





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Dave LaRonde
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:29:13 pm

Yeah: Check for 2D layers in the midst of your 3D layers. They'll screw things up every time.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:31:23 pm

100% 3d! Still bizarre stacking...





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Dave LaRonde
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:37:18 pm

No adjustment layer or anything, huh?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:40:58 pm

Nada. Check out this image. Ca and Mg are on top in stacking order, but all are closer to camera... Thanks Dave!







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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:39:55 pm

Here's an image. The Ca and Mg is the top layer. The others are below in the layer stacking order, but obviously they're closer to the camera... HELP!







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Dave LaRonde
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:44:03 pm

Open GL-induced weirdness? Got any errant shy layers?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:48:46 pm

Nada. Driving me crazy! I tried open GL rendering on and off. No change...





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Dave LaRonde
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:55:58 pm

Okay, here's my last recommendation. After this, I'm out of answers. Try resetting AE Preferences to their defaults.

I don't have the keystroke combo memorized, but you can go to AE's Online Help and use the search term default preferences. The proper link will be close to the top: it'll even say "...to restore default preferences..." in the description. It's easy to find.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Walter Soyka
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 11:03:07 pm

Are you using layer styles? They break 3D intersection, too.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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Walter Soyka
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 11:06:04 pm

Here's the whole list of possible culprits, from 3D layer interactions, render order, and collapsed transformations [link]:
Just like 2D layers, other types of layers also prevent 3D layers on either side from intersecting or casting shadows on one another:
  • An adjustment layer
  • A 3D layer with a layer style applied
  • A 3D precomposition layer to which an effect, closed mask (with mask mode other than None), or track matte has been applied
  • A 3D precomposition layer without collapsed transformations


Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 10, 2012 at 11:25:06 pm

So it can't render proper 3d if any of your layers are precomps with effects...

I think that might be the culprit here.

I have to say... that is EXTREMELY LAME of After Effects.

Thanks Dave and Walter!





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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 11, 2012 at 12:48:18 am

Move the effects into the precomp, outside of the final comp. Pre-rendering is another option if you totally need the effects in the final comp.

Carefully creating a layer hierarchy (in the Timeline) in the final comp may also provide a viable solution.

HTH
RoRK

Intensive AE & Mocha Training in Singapore and Malaysia
Adobe ACE/ACI (version 7) & Imagineer Systems Inc Approved Mocha Trainer


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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 11, 2012 at 6:24:12 pm

Alas... there are all kinds of crazy dependencies with expressions and so forth. Very difficult to move the effects...

I really think Adobe needs to fix this...

But thanks Roland!





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Walter Soyka
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 12, 2012 at 2:54:09 am

[Tom Durham] "I really think Adobe needs to fix this..."

That'd be nice -- but it would mean completely re-engineering AE.

AE is not a true 3D compositor. When you apply an effect to a 3D precomp (even if it has continuous transformations on), the layer is rasterized. This flattens the layer, so AE's renderer is no longer able to calculate intersections.

If true 3D compositing is important to you, please consider filing a feature request [link]. The AE team actually reads them [link], so your input is important!

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 12, 2012 at 7:23:52 am

Well, I'd say it needs to be re-engineered then by golly. I'll definitely put in a feature request. I'm glad I learned this tidbit. There's a ton of people out there who are driven crazy by this. It's in the manual... but it's just not intuitive that applying an effect could mess something up.

I'm a big fan of adobe... I'm sure they'll do the right thing! :)

Thanks for your help Walter!





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Jon Bagge
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 12, 2012 at 7:40:44 pm

It's almost certainly not possible to re-engineer this without fundamentally changing the way effects work, which will completely break every project ever made.

This has to do with the After effects render order. AE normally renders in the following order:
1. Masks
2. Effects
3. Transforms
4. Layer Styles

3D is part of the transforms. This is where layers get scaled, rotated, placed in 3D space and possibly intersect each other.
So masks & effects on 3D layers are fine, since they will be calculated before the 3D calculations.

Layer styles are not fine, since you can't add a layer style to a layer that has already been placed in 3d space (and may be interacting with other layers)

Adjustment layers also break 3D, because an adjustment layer is applied to the composite of everything below. You can't do that unless you've calculated the composite first.

If you use collapse transformations you change the render order. The order is now:
1. Transforms
2. Masks (masks might still be before transforms, I'm not sure)
3. Effects
4. Layer styles

This allows the transforms in your main comp to be applied directly to the transforms in the sub comp, so they're calculated together. Thus 3D objects in your main comp can interact with 3D objects in your sub comp.

As above you can't then apply effects and layer styles after the objects have been placed in 3D space together.

You have to apply textures and effects to the individual layers before they're put in 3D space. This is not that different from the basic principle of a real 3D program, except AE is limited to flat layers and is missing many other 3D features.

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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 13, 2012 at 4:55:20 pm

I appreciate everyone's input on this and I'm glad to understand AE's "brain" better.

I'm sure it would be a big challenge to add this functionality... but I think it's well WELL worth it. People are using AE so much now for 3d compositing, and 2.5d projects are not only "in style" but so wonderfully budget-friendly, that it's a win-win for creative pros, industry, clients, and Adobe. The ability to put effects on 3d layers would be a huge addition and a massive time saver.





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Walter Soyka
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 13, 2012 at 5:44:42 pm

[Tom Durham] "The ability to put effects on 3d layers would be a huge addition and a massive time saver."

Just to clarify, you can put effects on 3D layers without breaking 3D space. Like Jon said, the render order is METL; effects are rendered before transformations, so effects don't break 3D.

It's a 3D precomp layer, even with collapse transformations turned on, whose contained 3D layers will not intersect correctly anymore once an effect is applied to the precomp. All effects are 2D, so when you apply the effect, AE must compute the 2D composite of all the 3D layers within the precomp in order to render it.

Applying the effect individually to each of the 3D layers within all your 3D precomps would allow normal intersection.

Here's a workaround for you: pt_EffectSearch [link]. This will allow you to search for effects, turn them on or off, or link them together.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Tom Durham
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Feb 13, 2012 at 6:01:51 pm

Right. 3D precomp layers. Most of my 3d layers are precomps, so my brain defaults that way. :)

Thanks again gents. It really helps to understand this stuff. I've been doing AE stuff for over 10 years now--in fact it's the heart of sci-fi feature I'm finishing now--and it's awesome. I just want it to get cooler and cooler...





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Aaron de Azevedo
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on Nov 17, 2012 at 6:46:23 pm

I was having a stacking problem and all the proposed fixes didn't work. After some tests, I found that If you have a floor plain that intersects with other objects, this can cause them to render out of order!


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Juan Ibanez
Re: 3d stacking problem in AE
on May 28, 2013 at 2:24:28 pm

Guys, just for the sake of supporting the information of this issue on AE, parented layers seem to have the same problem with 3D occlusion and layer stacking order. So precomposing should be the best way to solve it.

Thanks to all. Cheers.


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