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Still Images: 2D to 3D using After Effects or Apple Motion

Danny Greer
By Danny Greer
By Danny Greer

Using compositing tricks you can transform your 2D images to 3D, a popular technique in video advertisements and motion design.

Make your still images more dynamic by giving them dimension!  Discover how to create a 2D to 3D photo effect, adding motion and depth to still images.  Here’s the type of effect you’ll learn to create:

Each of the video tutorials below explains a similar way of creating this 2D to 3D photo effect by using industry standard photo and video editing tools – Adobe Photoshop and either After Effects or Apple Motion.  The last video is a demo for a commercial Adobe After Effects script that simplifies the process of animating 2D layers in a simulated 3D space.

2D to 3D / Photoshop to Motion

Video producer Jonthan Fowler gives step-by-step instructions for breaking apart your 2D image in Photoshop and then bringing it into the Apple Motion compositng/motion graphics app.  Jonathan refers to this technique as the “Kid Stays In The Picture” effect, after the documentary that popularized it.   The layers of the still image are inputted into Motion and then animated.  Tracking the layers through z-space will give 2D images a simulated 3D effect.

2D to 3D / Photoshop to After Effects

Many post production professionals recognize Andrew Kramer as a leading After Effects guru and founder of VideoCopilot.net.  In this tutorial, Andrew showcases his expertise in demonstrating a quick way to create this cool 2D to 3D photo effect.  First, a photograph is broken into layers in Photoshop (with some basic cutting and cloning).  Then, the layers of the image are brought into After Effects, where they are stacked along the Z-axis and animated with the AE built-in camera.  Andrew’s super knowledgeable and fun to listen to, making this a great tutorial for anyone interested in animating their still photos from 2D to 3D.

pt_MultiPlane plugin for After Effects

pt_Multiplane is an After Effects script that allows you to quickly experiment with the depth of the layers of your still image.  The script preserves the look of the original image as you modify the z-axis in After Effects.  If you plan to utilize the 2D to 3D effect often (such as a consistent look through a film or video) this plugin can be a big timesaver.  Take some of the headache out of animating your layers!  pt_Multiplane is available from AEScripts.com