A while ago, Chris Zwar had a look at how it is possible to generate Z-Depth in Ae from a Trapcode Particular project. Expanding on that premise with the next logical step, Chris offers a look at how you can generate Z-Depth from After Effects layers, without using any 3rd party plugins.

Sadly, there are no dedicated tools that will allow you to create Z-Depth from After Effects layers, however, using the approach described in the post Creating and Compositing With Z-Depth Maps With Trapcode Particular, you are able to easily create what you need.

While After Effects can’t automatically generate its own z-depth maps (at least not in 2014), we can use the same basic approach that I demonstrated in the Particular tutorial – once we have a composition that we’re happy with, we duplicate it and create a separate version just to output the z-depth.

All a depth pass really is black and white information that correlates to distance. If you and a scene that was filled with black fog and white objects, the objects that were father away front he camera would have a darker tone than the ones that were closer.

In fact, this is how we used to set up death passes for post production in 3D applications, before they had dedicated Z-Depth rendering tools.

Here, Chris shows something similar, by creating Z-Depth from After Effects layers by measuring the distance of each layer to the camera, and converting that distance to a shade of grey, using the fill effect. Check out the tutorial for Creating Z-Depth from After Effects Layers here – Great stuff!

Some of the links on lesterbanks are "affiliate links", a link with a special tracking code. This means if you click on an affiliate link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. The price of the item is the same whether it is an affiliate link or not. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers. By using the affiliate links, you are helping support our Website, and we genuinely appreciate your support.