Animation isn’t just for cartoons any more. The proliferation of software like Adobe After Effects has made it possible for anyone to learn how to incorporate 3D animation into their workflow, whether you’re personalizing preset AE templates or creating custom text animations from scratch. That’s why we’ve collected some of the best online tutorials to help you get started on your animated adventure.

In today’s media industry, 3D motion graphics have become the standard for enhancing the quality of a video project. While most people probably associate this type of content with the latest box office hit from Pixar, most modern animation is more subtle in its application. News broadcasts use 3D text in their opening stinger, advertisements bring still photos to life, and films accentuate the action in the background of a scene with digital elements and compositing.

These days, animation is no longer a niche or a specialized skill, as it’s increasingly become an essential tool for all filmmakers to embrace. Although it’s certainly not the only software capable of generating these types of effects, After Effects’ toolset can add an extra layer of professionalism to any video project. Take a look at these intro tutorials to start expanding your AE repertoire.

 

Top 5 After Effects 3D Camera Tips

Sean Frangella

One of the most significant tools in the After Effects repertoire is the camera, which allows you to replicate natural camera movement in an artificial three-dimensional environment. This tutorial provides a number of excellent tips on how to make the most of your camera.

Laser Light Animation

Tuts+ 3D

This tutorial allows the user to create a laser beam effect that appears to shine at the camera and could be used in conjunction with a logo reveal. It was inspired by the opening to Tron: Legacy.

 

Animating A Still Photo

BakerTuts

There are many methods to transform a still photo to a more dynamic, three-dimensional animation. This walkthrough will assist you in implementing one of these methods.

 

Displacement and 2.5D Parallax Effect

DOD Media

This tutorial will show you another way to achieve a three-dimensional effect on your still photos.

 

3D Lava Animation

Ch-ch-check It

Sometimes, you may want to generate an animated background or environmental effect that you can used to enhance the empty space onscreen. In this tutorial, you learn how to create realistic lava effects that could roil and bubble below a logo, text, or even your actors if you’ve used a green screen.

 

3D Cloud Animation

Andy Bresbrode

This cloudy animation was inspired by the opening of the Harry Potter films and can be used to make your background more threatening or intense.

 

Creating a 3D City Scene

AssumeArts

Another tutorial that simulates an aerial shot. This time, the camera moves horizontally to reveal layers three-dimensional buildings in front of a city skyline.

 

Creating a 3D Matte Painting in After Effects

KriscoartProductions

Using VideoBlocks footage and photographic elements, this instructor builds an amazing matte painting to replace the green screen footage he shot with an actress.

Some of these projects may require a basic understanding of After Effects or Adobe Photoshop. New to the programs? Read our Quick Start Guide to After Effects before trying your hand at 3D animation.

Or if you’re looking for dynamic and polished After Effects animations without the time and effort, there are hundreds of new royalty-free AE templates in the VideoBlocks library.

 

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