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FlDepthOfFieldPluginForAfterEffectsFree


How to Create a Smooth Depth of Field Effect in After Effects for Free




Depth of field (DOF) is a cinematic technique that creates a blurred background or foreground while keeping the main subject in focus. It can be used to enhance the realism, mood, and visual interest of your scenes. However, creating a realistic DOF effect in After Effects can be challenging and time-consuming, especially if you want to control the amount and quality of the blur.




FlDepthOfFieldPluginForAfterEffectsFree


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Fortunately, there are some free plugins that can help you achieve a smooth DOF effect in After Effects using a depth map. A depth map is an image that contains information about the distance of each pixel from the camera. The closer the pixel is to the camera, the brighter it is in the depth map. The farther the pixel is from the camera, the darker it is in the depth map. By using a depth map, you can tell After Effects which parts of your scene should be in focus and which parts should be blurred.


In this article, we will introduce two free plugins that can create a smooth DOF effect in After Effects using a depth map: Fast Bokeh and Depth Scanner.


Fast Bokeh




Fast Bokeh is a free plugin for After Effects that creates a smooth DOF bokeh blur using a depth map. It was developed by Rowbyte, a company that specializes in creating tools for motion graphics and visual effects. Fast Bokeh has several advantages over other lens blur plugins:



  • It is very fast and independent of the blur radius. This means that you can expect the same render performance regardless of how much blur you apply.



  • It handles edges correctly and produces no hard edges. This means that the object boundaries are expanded and blended with the background smoothly.



  • It has Gaussian blur quality and creates a smooth Gaussian-like fast blur. This means that it does not have any artifacts or noise in the blurred areas.




To use Fast Bokeh, you need to download and extract the zip file and put the plugin files in your After Effects Plug-ins folder. You can download Fast Bokeh from [here]. Then, you need to apply the plugin to your footage layer and select the depth map layer as the source. You can adjust the focal point, focal range, and blur radius to control the DOF effect. You can also enable invert depth map, repeat edge pixels, and highlight recovery options to fine-tune the result.


You can compare these images rendered with AEs Camera Lens Blur Effect, Frischlufts LensCare plugin, and Fast Bokeh [here].


Depth Scanner




Depth Scanner is another free plugin for After Effects that creates a smooth DOF effect using a depth map. It was developed by Tutorials View+, a YouTube channel that provides tutorials on motion graphics and visual effects. Depth Scanner has some features that make it different from other lens blur plugins:



  • It can generate a depth map from any footage layer automatically. This means that you do not need to create a separate depth map layer manually or use a third-party software.



  • It can create a realistic DOF effect with chromatic aberration and bokeh shapes. This means that you can simulate how light rays bend and split when passing through a lens aperture.



  • It can create a dynamic DOF effect with keyframes and expressions. This means that you can animate the focus distance and blur amount over time.




To use Depth Scanner, you need to download and extract the zip file and put the plugin files in your After Effects Plug-ins folder. You can download Depth Scanner from [here]. Then, you need to apply the plugin to your footage layer and enable the depth scan option. You can adjust the scan range, scan quality, scan speed, and scan direction to control the depth map generation. You can also enable invert depth map option to reverse the depth values.


Then, you need to apply another instance of Depth Scanner to your footage layer and disable the depth scan option. You can adjust the focus distance, focus range, blur amount, chromatic aberration, bokeh shape, bokeh size, bokeh rotation, bokeh brightness, bokeh threshold, and bokeh contrast to control the DOF effect. You can also enable highlight recovery option to reduce the clipping of bright areas.


You can watch a tutorial on how to use Depth Scanner [here].


Conclusion




In this article, we have introduced two free plugins that can create a smooth DOF effect in After Effects using a depth map: Fast Bokeh and Depth Scanner. Both plugins have their own strengths and weaknesses, and you can choose the one that suits your needs and preferences. We hope that this article has been helpful and informative for you. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below.


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