In After Effects if I have 3d layers with different video/image elements (so not real 3d objects), eg. a person, mountains, clouds (eg. the clouds from ActionVFX) and I want many clouds to move towards and past the camera (z direction), a problem is that when they go past another object (z value becomes nearer) like the person/mountain they instantly pass through the object instead of passing through more smoothly/slowly/realistically.
Is there a better, more realistic way of doing it using those layers? I thought of duplicating the cloud layer a few times and setting some slightly closer and further in z space (and with the nearest 1 and furthest at 50% opacity). I tried using layers for 1 cloud. While it does help slightly it’s still too fast/unrealistic when the clouded passes to in front of something else.
I also thought about creating multiple layers for the person and the mountains. Maybe instead of doing it for the clouds.
Is there a (hopefully simple) way of making the clouds move more smoothly through the other objects (z-depth wise), while not overcomplicating the composition? Using a pre-composition of the object at different z depths doesn’t work properly in the main composition.
Maybe layers could be duplicated and repositioned (maybe with masks to make different parts of eg. clouds visible at different depths) so the objects have multiple depths and then using the “shy” switch to hide all except 1 of them could make the composition simpler and also make the z transition smoother?
I also thought of rendering at a high frame rate and then lowering it with frame blending turned on but it would still be a very quick transition even though that might add a bit of blending to the transition point.
What do you think is the best but quite simple way?