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Some things are easier to control in a 3D application and some things are better suited for compositing in After Effects. While working on this title graphic, I wanted to add some smoke and particles but I didn’t want to keep rendering to see what my particles would like in 3D max.
Instead I rendered the shot plainly but I saved my animation in a special format called RPF and made sure to include the Z Depth information. This is the information needed to recreate my 3Dmax Camera in After Effects.
After importing the sequence into a new AE comp, I can extract the data into a usable 3D camera. By simply right-clicking the layer and choosing “Keyframe Assistant-> RPF Camera Import”, this instantly creates a new camera with the same coordinates and animation as my 3D max camera. So now I can add 3D layers and elements and they will adhere to the same camera movements right inside of After Effects.
Of course the camera data is locked to the rendered 3D animation so I can’t make changes to the camera, but I can easily place layers and particles into the scene with the ease and speed of After Effects.
There are many ways to integrate your 3D program and After Effects but this method is great to know. Cinema 4D has some very nice methods of integration and there is also a helpful plug-in for 3DMax called MAX2AE.
Another concept we’ll cover in the future is rendering multiple passes from your 3D application to give you more control over compositing things like shadows and reflections.
This is obviously a shot for the Twitch promo video that should be online soon.