How to ZDepth

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What is a ZDepth?

When an object is rendered, the depth of a generated pixel from the camera is given a depth value. These are normally clipped to an value set by the artist (example: The closest object is 1′ and the farthest object is 30′). Pixel behind an object are referred to as being z-culling.

What is it used for?
A ZDepth element when brought into a composting (Nuke, Photoshop, AE) program allows a few post effects to be applied which are normally expensive and time consuming when done in a 3d software. Some of these effects are:

  • Adding in fog
  • Adding in depth of field
  • Clipping/Masking objects in 2d


The RBG Render


The Z Depth


Adding post fog effects


Adding post depth of field effects


Adding a clipping by distance effects

Common problems and solutions:

While this may not seem right, you do NOT want to apply filtering (Anti Aliasing)


Lets see what both filtering anti aliasing are on and off

Correct with filtering anti aliasing off.


Wrong with filtering anti aliasing on. See those edges and the odd render effects in the blur?

Mike Oakely

Mike Oakely

Mike Oakley is a seasoned and passionate freelance visual effects artist in Seattle, Wa. He is a true generalist. Animations, material creations, FX, composting, editing, audio are all skills he enjoys working with. In 2013 he won a Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role for the episodic "Banshee". His energetic attitude, strong work ethic and creative insight assures projects are completed on time and exceed expectations. He enjoys changing of hats on a project to fill in gaps on a production.