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What Is a 3D Gizmo in After Effects

When it comes to moving 3D shapes and layers digitally, you may start to come across a strange word, a 'Gizmo': a concept that exists in different 3D design-oriented software such as Blender. But what exactly is a 3D Gizmo in After Effects? 

If this is your first time using After Effects, the only thing you should know for now is that 'the Gizmo' is a tool that allows you to manipulate 3D shapes and layers in your animations.

As in Geometry, in order to rotate an object of more than two dimensions on your pc, it is necessary to take into account three principles: height, width, and length. That's where 3D Gizmos come in. 

3D Tools in After Effects

Since gizmos are tools that serve as guides to get the best perspective of an object, you can activate them by going right to the main menu, clicking on Layer, and then selecting 3D Layer.

A Gizmo works on the three conditions mentioned above that make it possible to create a three-dimensional object. For this reason, the gizmo uses three axes recognizable by each of its colors.

  • x-axis: it's the red one and modifies the height of the 3D object.
  • y-axis: it's green and rotates the 3D object based on the x and z axes.
  • z-axis: it's the blue one and transforms the width of the 3D object or layer.
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​​To correctly move, scale or rotate a 3D layer in After Effects, a value must be assigned to each of the gizmo axes. Keep in mind that this tool will be overlapping the layer you are working on, so this sort of "guide figure" is not going to be part of your composition.

While you will begin to notice that not all gizmos in After Effects are round, all of them, regardless of their shapes, serve similar functions: transforming the 3D objects in your project within a single tool.

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