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Forums Adobe After Effects Can you make a 3d stroke actually move in 3d?

  • Can you make a 3d stroke actually move in 3d?

  • Bill Clotz

    April 2, 2005 at 1:25 am

    I have been playing around with 3d stroke alot, but I can’t seem to make it do a lot of the things that I see done on TV. The issue I’m having is that masks can only be drawn on 2d space (I think). Therefore, I can’t tell my stroke to “move left, then move up, then move towards the screen”. I can only tell it to move on a 2d plain. I know the bend feature lets you bend it out into an actual 3d space, but this seems too simple to actually let you control movement in 3d, and it also is really hard to actually bend the stroke in the direction that I want it to go in.
    Is this just a limitation of After Effects, or is there a way to actually move the stroke around in any direction?

  • Steve Roberts

    April 2, 2005 at 2:23 am

    Masks can only be drawn in 2D space, because they reside on layers, and layers can only be flat in AE’s space.

    Yes, it is a limitation of After Effects.

    If you want a path to bend in a controlled fashion in 3D space, you need a 3D app such as Lightwave, MAX, Maya, Cinema4D and so on.


  • Serge Hamad

    April 2, 2005 at 3:49 am


    Maybe what you have seen on TV was real 3D like Steven said but are you using the 3D transform properties and camera? Animating the mask also helps a lot.


  • Chris Smith

    April 2, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    I had to do something recently where I wanted 3D stroke but in true 3D as well. So I recreated it in Maya.

    3D stroke is basically a bunch of white circles along a path at a specific density. Then you have settings for the size of those circles (stroke width). Feather equals how soft the outside of the circles are.

    What gives the illusion that the lines have thickness in 3D space is that each one of those circles auto-orients to camera all the time.

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    So in Maya:

    Create a curve which will be your path (in true 3D of course).

    Create a particle emiiter. Attch the emmiter to the path. So that it emits along the path. Set the emmision speed to zero so that it seeds the path with a bunch of evenly spaced particles that don’t fly away. Now in PS or AE create a square comp. In it create a white circle. The black should be transparent.

    Save as a still farme (Maya likes targa files for sprites) with the alpha channel as well. In Maya for the particle type choose sprite. For the sprite image choose the file you made with the white circle. Sprites in Maya always auto orient to camera automatically.

    Now you will have 3D stroke replicated in Maya. If you want it to taper then apply a ramp to sprite scale. If you want it softer then on the file input node select gauss as the filter and set it to your liking.

    And of course Maya being the insanely modifiable beast that it is, you can not only replicate every other thing 3D stroke does, but do a lot more. Good luck.

    Chris Smith

  • Bill Clotz

    April 2, 2005 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks guys. Although I have no experience with 3d programs yet, I think I might give it a shot now and see if I can pull this off 🙂

  • Kathlyn Lindeboom

    April 2, 2005 at 6:57 pm

    If you’re thinking of using Maya to make your 3d ribbons, we have a tutorial from Chad Briggs describing that technique.

    Kathlyn Lindeboom
    The Mistress of Mmmooooo!

  • Peder Norrby

    April 2, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    [Chris Smith] “That’s it in a nutshell.”

    Hey, stop reverse-engineering our stuff!! 🙂

    Hehe, that’s a pretty good description. If you don’t want to get into Maya you can do similar things with Trapcode Particular inside AE: Use a Light Emitter and set “Velocity” and “Velcity from Motion” to 0 and you will be able to “paint” by keyframing the 3D position (3D motion path) of the light. Now, the “Size over Life” curve can be used to create tapering (and other exciting shapes). Note: keyframing the 3D motion path works so-so; you need to hit “purge” every now and then to get accurate rendering.

    Peder Norrby / Trapcode

  • Steve Roberts

    April 3, 2005 at 3:40 am

    Great tip, Peder!


  • Chris Smith

    April 3, 2005 at 1:12 pm

    lol..sorry 🙂

    Although to back peddle though with a heavy hand of truth, The Trapcode products are so brilliant because they provide advanced options ususally only found in 3D apps and are made so elegantly for the 2.5D environment allowing spontaneous creativity in a compositor rather than planning it out in great detail in said 3D app. Which is what I had to do to get the 3D stroke like effect in Maya.

    Chris Smith

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