VFX & Film Making Edutainment

Adobe After Effects 3D Projection VFX

Setting Up The 3D Scene

This effect will work best with a scene that contains a lot of depth. Since the parallax effect will be enhanced the more you see of the floor, the ceiling and the walls, I do recommend using a fairly wide angle shot :)

Create a new composition.
One important thing we need to configure before we get started is the shadow quality of our composition. The projection of our footage layer is technically its shadow so we want to make sure we set the shadow quality to very high, otherwise we might not see much more than a blurry mess.

For this, open your composition settings, go to the ‘Advanced’ tab and click on ‘Options…’. Set the ‘Shadow Map Quality’ to something large, like 4000.

For the first scene, I have an image here that I took in a car park.

Add this image into your composition as a new layer.

This layer will be projected onto the 3D layers we will set up to remodel the geometry of the scene.
Because we will eventually turn it into a 3D layer and disable its visibility, let’s duplicate it and set the copy up as a Guide Layer. Set the opacity of the guide layer to something like 30%.

A guide layer will be visible in the composition but won’t be rendered as part of the final effect. We just want to add it so we can still see our scene once we disable the visibility of the original garage layer.

Now turn the original garage layer into a 3D layer.

Create a new camera. Set up the camera properties, especially the focal length, to match the camera you used to shoot your scene as precisely as possible. I used a focal length of 35mm.

Create a new spot light. Set the following properties

  • Light Type: Spot
  • Intensity: 100%
  • Colour: White
  • Cone Angle: 180%
  • Falloff: None
  • Cast Shadows: ENABLED (this is important!)

The most important thing to check is the ‘Cast Shadows’ option. Remember we will shine this light through our garage image to project the shadow of the garage image – the projection – onto the 3D layers. If the light does not cast shadows, the effect will not work.

8 comments for Adobe After Effects 3D Projection VFX

  1. Hi,
    we want to hire you in our 3d Holographic projection.
    You will give us our boss 3d effect & that will live simultaneously 300 places by 3d holographic projection.
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  2. lov it

  3. Well done, here’s a tutorial on how to achieve this with extruded 3D shapes:
    https://vimeo.com/87376234

  4. I’ve tried this and its not working. I create all the setup and when I get the grid effect, the solids stay white and don’t recieve any shadows from the original image. I’ve tweaked every posible parameter and those layers either disappear or keep being white. When I make them accept shadows only the just dissapear.

    I even made it all again from scratch keeping up with every instruction in the tutorial and doesn’t work.

    Any tips?

    • Hm, I know a couple of people had the issue. They usually resolved it by ensuring that the light transmission properties were set up correctly, but it’s hard to tell what might be wrong given there are so many settings involved.

    • I just tried this yesterday and had the same problem. So I did it again from scratch and the same thing. However I was able to correct it by double checking the position of my “Scene” layer and was able to correct the floor and ceiling to work properly. Then I had a white feather stripe that took up a 3rd of my screen and was able to correct that by going into my “Light” layer and changing the Falloff to none and solved it. I know I’m a little late in replying but I’m just happy I figured it out.

  5. I’ve tried all the setup except for the Grid that refuse to expand beyond up and down… No dept was possible for me. What’s the reason for this?
    The the xy is not working in my case.

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