Element 3D V2: New Specular Model!

Of the many new features announced with Element 3D V2 (so far), there is one I am particularly excited about and that is the new specular highlight model.

The new spec model takes advantage of the new physical shader system and features a natural light falloff  helps create more realistic shaders! You can even get the specular to be much smaller and sharp or large and diffused. May seem like a small thing but it makes a big difference!

Technical Details about E3D V2

Now that we have released the first look at Element 3D V2, you can see that this is not a small update to our plug-in. It is a massive overhaul with many big features. So, I thought I would take a little time to answer a few technical questions.

NOTE: Pricing information and upgrade paths will be announced soon!

With all the amazing new features in Element 3D V2 (why, thank you!), do I need an insane Graphics Card?
Not at all.

Our render engine is actually more efficient than V1 but we also added many new features  so we recommend having at least 512MBs of video memory and 1GB is even better. Certain features just use up memory, so you want to have enough memory to keep things running smoothly and allow more complex scenes. Plus if you are creating 4K stuff, you need to be able to have enough memory for large renders.

What graphics card should I get?
Nvidia and AMD cards have shown very nice performance with E3D V2. Even the mid-range GeForce graphics cards have plenty of power to run V2 with great speed. If your card is more than 4 years old, you can REALLY speed things up with a new graphics card! A decent $150-250 graphics card will go a long way.

Intel cards are not officially supported, sorry. It’s hard enough to get the AMD and Nvidia dialed in!

Of course the Titan cards will give you a nice boost, but we get plenty of speed with the high-end AMD and GeForce cards at half the price.

What graphics card do I need for the GPU Accelerated Ray Trace Shadows and Ambient Occlusion?

Both Nvidia and AMD (ATI) Graphics cards that supports OpenCL will allow you to use the Ray Traced features in Element 3D V2. Most cards from the last 4 years support OpenCL and you can take a look at this page for more information.

Of course, the Ray Trace features are not required to use Element 3D since you can always use Shadow Maps and Screen-Space Ambient Occlusion for most cases. Shadow maps will always be faster than Ray-Tracing but when you need that extra accuracy, it’s available!

What about Dual Graphics Cards with SLI?
Since Element 3D renders with OpenGL, it is not possible to use more than 1 GPU for rendering. Only Video Games that render full screen can use multiple graphics cards.

However: Cards with 2 GPU’s cores (Like the GeForce 690) will speed up OpenCL stuff like the Ray-Trace Shadows and Ambient Occlusion.

What Version of After Effects do I need?

Element 3D V2 will run on every version of After Effects from CS5 to the latest CC 2014.  Basically all 64-bit versions of AE.
Mac users need to be running at least OSX 10.7 to use V2.

Will my older projects made with V1.6 open inside of V2?
Yes for the most part but…

Element 3D V2 will replace V1.6 when you install. Projects created in V2 will not open in V1. (Of course, we will always make older versions of plug-ins available if you need them.)

We worked hard to get projects to convert properly but our goal was to modernize the internal system.  So the new coordinate system and anchor points work better but if you changed the anchor point in a previous project, you may need to adjust it again. Same for SSAO, we improved the algorithm (and got rid of some nasty banding) but some cases might look a touch different than before.

Of course, be sure to back up your V1.6 projects before opening them in V2, that way you can at least install the older version if something doesn’t look right.

With that said, be careful. If you don’t need to convert the project, why risk it.  Just finish it in V1 and then move on to the glorious V2!

Element 3D V2 Revealed!

Check out the new features coming to Element 3D V2 coming out this November!

Watch on Youtube in HD

Watch on Vimeo

My First Keynote: Becoming a Better Artist!

See the awkward comedy stylings of Andrew Kramer as he… WAIT! Wrong press release!

As promised, here is my full Keynote Speech from the 2014 AE World conference! I really put a lot of thought into this speech and I hope you guys check it out!

Join me as I discuss my motivation for becoming a better artist with fun stories, personal challenges and my advice for all Digital Artists! See my original Demo Reel from 2002 and hear the story behind my first big job with J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot.

Plus my thoughts on tutorials, distractions and what I  think is the most important skill for every designer. Hear my tips on how to stand out, manage priorities and avoid getting burned out!

Watch on Youtube in HD

PS: I want to thank my younger brother Matt for helping me prepare for my first keynote speech!


My After Effects World Conference Visit

I’m excited to tell you that I had a blast at this years After Effects World conference and met a lot of great people.

I was also given an opportunity to do a keynote presentation which is much different than sitting behind a computer and demonstrating software. I talked about what motivates me, personal challenges and what I think are the keys to becoming a better artist.

The good news is, this time we filmed it. Now that the footage has been downloaded safely, I’m happy to announce we’ll be posting it online this week, for all to watch.

I hope you will check it out!

Announcing Element 3D V2!

It has been a little over 2 years since the release of Element 3D V1 and I still remember it quite vividly. I recall staying up all night before the launch, trying to get everything done.

I was nervous and excited.  My son Josh had just been born a week earlier and I was working from home at the time. The pressure was on!

Finally everything was in place and we hit the GO button. The page went live! I exhaled with a strange form of guarded relief. There was no turning back.

The next thing I remember in my semi-conscious state was the absolutely incredible response from the community.  The heartfelt comments and appreciation.  Even to this day, when somebody gets a chance to use Element 3D in their project, I’m truly excited and thankful.

At Video Copilot we know the bar is raised high and we accepted the challenge.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the next major release of Element 3D V2!  This November, we’re thrilled to bring our latest plug-in to the world!

Our team has worked exceptionally hard to try and bring you incredible new features that will save you time and create impressive results without a SHADOW of a doubt.

Join Us October 6th for the first sneak peak and some actual product details!!
(Right after I get back from After Effects World!)

UPGRADING: We will have special upgrade pricing for previous owners as well. This is a BIG Release!

Pixel Screen Experiment!

Here is a fun experiment I created to simulate cool LCD Pixel effects using built-in plug-ins only! It uses the Camera Lens Blur effect along with a depth map to create realistic DOF.

Watch Breakdown on Youtube

Download Project File (CS6)

Sound FX Created with MotionPulse!

After Effects World Keynote!


I’m very excited to participate in the  upcoming After Effects World Conference this month!

I’ll be presenting the Saturday evening Keynote and hopefully hanging out with everyone afterwards! It should be even more exciting than trying to create this fake production stock photo! ** Let me just adjust this knob….**

I’ll be along side many talented video pros that you may already know so be sure to check the Sessions List.

After Effects World Conference is a 3-Day conference with presentations by many experts and members of the After Effects Team.
More Info about the Show here!

It’s not too late to sign up!


Free Script: 3D Pre-Compose + Tutorial!

I finally got tired of doing this manually, so we created a free script!

What is this script for? The 3D Pre-Compose Script makes it easy to pre-compose 3D-aware layers by automatically copying all cameras & lights into the new comp with linked expressions! Just watch the tutorial to see all the amazing possibilities! Plus it’s Free!

Watch Tutorial on YouTube

Watch Tutorial on Video Copilot

What can you do with it?

  • Create displacement maps out of 3D aware layers
  • Isolate 3D layers for different lighting setups in the same scene
  • Disable DOF for certain layers
  • Lens Flare obscuration maps in 3D: For Element 3d & Particular etc
  • Apply 2D effects to a 3D layer in screen space

Download Script

New Tutorial: Sci-Fi Weapon FX!

In this exciting tutorial I’ll be showing you how to create various sci-fi muzzle flashes and distortion FX.  If you need to add sound FX, be sure to check out our MotionPulse sound tools!

Watch on Youtube
Watch on Vimeo
Watch on Video Copilot & Project File

Tips & Tricks:

  • Create Muzzle Flash with Fractal Noise
  • Advanced Shockwave Compositing
  • Track lights onto weapon

Download Free Color Vibrance Plug-in
Create your own Shockwave Tutorial
Action Essentials 2

New Tutorial: Shockwaves in After Effects!

You don’t want to miss this in depth tutorial! Massive tips, no extra plug-ins!

Even though we offer a cool Shockwave pack for sale, this new tutorial shows you how to create an impressive shockwave effect without 3rd party plug-ins.  Of course we recommend our free Color Vibrance Plug-in for colorization!

Watch Tutorial on Video Copilot
Watch Tutorial on Youtube
Watch Tutorial on Vimeo


Shockwaves in AE!

Here are some cool AE shockwaves that are created 100% inside of AE without 3rd party plug-ins!

Sure we have a cool Shockwave Product but we think it is nice to be able to show you how to make cool stuff for Free without having to buy something all the time.  Of course, we appreciate the support of all our customers! You guys and gals make it possible for us to do more stuff like this!

The technique is a combination of the Fractal Noise effects but they are created in a very unique way so I’m recording a tutorial tonight and I’ll post it tomorrow!

Stay tuned!

Element 3D 1.6.2 Updated for AE CC 2014

Just a quick heads up! Our Element 3D plug-in has been updated for AE CC 2014!

There are a couple of important bug fixes and we recommend this update for everyone, even if you are not running CC 2014.

Download E3D 1.6.2 (490)!

NOTE: Typically Video Copilot plug-ins can be copied from one plug-in folder to another.

But we did find a bug that required us to update the plug-in this time. For other plug-ins like Heat Distortion and Optical Flares, you can still just copy them to the CC 2014 Plug-in folder and we’ll get the installers updated this week.

VFX Short: Lock & Load!

Watch on Youtube in HD
Watch on Vimeo in HD

Check out our new VFX short… ’cause we made it!

Production Notes:
Filmed on 2 separate days
Shot on RED
Canon Lenses: 16mm L-series plus a cool 50mm

After Effects, 3DS Max, Fume FX, Rayfire
Action Essentials 2

New Plug-in: Color Vibrance!

Watch on YouTube in HD

Intense bright colorization can be tricky so we created a plug-in that makes it easy to achieve HOT colors instantly.  Plus it’s FREE!

We even added some helpful matte tools so you can generate alpha channels from stock footage like SHOCKWAVE and give you more compositing control. Check out the video to see how it works!

Plug-in Features:

  • Add Hot Colorization with ease
  • Create Alpha Channels  (unmultiply)
  • Works on Pre-Matted Clips
  • Eliminate the faded colors when using mask feathering

Download Mac or PC
After Effects CS5, CS6 & CC
PC & Mac (OSX 10.7+)

We used the Color Vibrance plugin to make these Sci-Fi Guns Pop!