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VideoCopilot Element 3D

Better. Stronger. Faster By Ko Maruyama

VideoCopilot Element 3D

Better. Stronger. Faster

It's been about 2 years since VideoCopilot introduced the Element 3D plugin for After Effects.  Now, Version 2 is out, delivering more control over the ability to integrate 3D models, textures, lights, and animation using many of the Adobe After Effects controls that you're already familiar with.

The ability to use 3D models in Adobe's After Effects CC isn't a new thing.  Within the CreativeCloud version of After Effects, there's a powerful piece of 3D software already: MAXON's CINEMA4D Lite.  Element 3D is different (on several levels).  Moreover, you can use Element 3D V2 with C4D models!

Element 3D v2 allows you to work with 3D models, textures and lights in your After Effects project without having to dig into or render from a traditional 3D application.

For the 2D user, one of the main draws to Element 3D is the ability to utilize 3D object within an After Effects project without having to model from scratch.

For advanced 3D users, one of the main draws is its speed. There's a huge benefit to using the GPU for rendering the 3D objects in your scene, and Element 2 makes better use of your video cards. **NOTE: This isn't a simple plugin for importing 3D models.  If you're a beginner or have never used Element 3D before, be advised, the amount of control you have over the objects in your scene is detailed.  The navigation windows are deep. (But perhaps easier than learning a full blown 3D package)

There are many new and updated features in Element 3D v2, and it's difficult to choose which ones are ?the best?, because they are all really important upgrades, but I think the TOP 5 features the average motion graphics /3D After Effects user will really appreciate in the upgrade are:


You can take advantage of the native After Effects lights in your scene to cast shadows (make sure that you turn the option for shadow casting on).  Control your lights as you regularly would in a 3D scene - works the way you expect it should.

The addition of lights helps to ground the 3D elements, or give them a relationship to a ground plane, or to other 3D objects in your scene.


Rather than having to create multiple copies of a single object and going through the process of disabling different parts of a single multi-component object into separate groups, v2 now offers AUX Channels.  Within each group, you can have up to 10 different aux channels to control different component geometry.


For motion graphics artists, Deformers are a fun way to breathe life into a simple 3D object.  Jam a deformer onto even the most boring text extrusion, and you can give it some personality.  There are a few standard deformers you're familiar with, Bend, Twist, Taper.  But you can also use Noise generators to shift the surface of your objects. (You can change the sub-division on your model if necessary)


Although they share similar properties to the regular shaders, the effect of using reflection and a glossy parameter rather than simple specular highlight is significantly more impressive when coupled with good looking 'Glossiness' and 'Reflectivity' maps

There are a host of other mograph &  VFX features in the new release as well and in the coming weeks, I'll have more to say about each one and why you want to upgrade for these:


Yes, you can import OBJs just as before. But for my workflow, the addition of the C4D project import is key.  If you save your project (for melange), you can bring in your model, some animation, and textures right to Element 3D v2. Yeah!

You can save $10 when you purchase Element 3D new from Toolfarm. You can also get your upgrade there too:

Dynamic Reflections Maps

Sub Surface Scattering Materials

Per-Material Transfer Modes

Per-Material Wireframe

New beveling tool for vfx models and of course: text

So much to dig into, you're going to have your hands full with this application.  It's a good thing you have a week off for Christmas and New Years.  What you don't? Well, then you're gonna need this plugin to make deadline.

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
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  • VideoCopilot Element 3D by DMN Editorial at Dec 17, 2014 1:22 pm gmt (Rec'd 2)

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