A couple weeks ago, Video Copilot released a new plugin called Element 3D. After watching the product demo I’m amazed. It allows you to import 3D models which you can then animate within After Effects. It accepts OBJ files which can be output from most any 3D program and Cinema 4D files that don’t have any animation already in them.
What’s really incredible is that not only can you animate these 3D objects within After Effects, you also have the ability to texture and light them right within the plugin. It comes with preset textures but also allows you to import your own or use the built in reflection mapping to texture your object. This is a huge time saver if you’re planning to output the final product from After Effects. This cuts out having to re-import 3D renders if you ever have changes to the After Effects file. It also applies to the render channels because, yes, it has its own render engine in it that’s capable of letting you adjust multiple passes of a render.
Some other amazing things with this plugin is that it has 3D object dispersion which allows you to manipulate multiple objects of a single 3D object. If you wanted to show an object being disassembled, it would be really easy to manipulate each piece. Element 3D also has a particle replicator which allows you to create multiple instances of a 3D object, which you can then manipulate within the plugin.
Currently, in our process, our 3D artist would have to model, texture, light and animate all of these pieces. Then once it got to me and I got it ready for client approval we would potentially have to go through the process again. Having to re-animate, re-light, re-texture, re-model even. If our artist only had to worry about modeling that would free him up for other projects. 3D work is no small task and I know our artist would appreciate any saved time or lightened workload on his end.
Unfortunately, I’ve drifted too far away from 3D programs. This would be a huge help to get back into being able to do 3D work. Will it change the game for traditional motion designers who use After Effects and Cinema 4D together every day? Probably not, but it has potential to save them a fair amount of time on any revisions and render times.