Guide to Normals

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We recently published a new tutorial on Scene Relighting using a cool plug-in called Normality (FREE) and so I wanted to gather helpful information on the subject for people who are excited like me.

Like many of you, when I first saw Normality about 3 years ago , the gears in my head started turning with amazing possibilities. However back then, it was not a free plug-in until about 6 months ago when he decided to offer this great tool to the world! This got me excited and this was actually the subject of my presentation in LA as a way to help spread the word.

Normality uses special Normal maps to relate the 3D surface info to After Effects for adding lights and even reflections. Here are a few resources on exporting and generating Normal Maps but be sure to watch our tutorial first, to get acquainted.

Stefan, the developer also posted feature-rich tutorial a couple months ago.
Part 1 & Part 2 (High-Def Youtube)

Exporting Normal Map from 3D Software:
Cinema 4D & Modo plus a quick AE demo with normality. Good stuff!
Cinema 4D Materia
l (works with anti-aliasing)
Maya Normal Maps
3D Max Normal Maps with Script
(Our tutorial also includes export info for 3d Max)
New Blender Process ( TwentyFourBecks)

Normal Map Generating Software:
One of the cool things about Normality is you don’t need a 3D program to do some impressive relighting, you can actually use photographic textures!

Smart Normal Map (Free AE Plug-in CS4+)
($99.00 PC, very intelligent processing!)
Normal Generator OS X (Free)
Nvidia Normal App Win (Free)
Nvidia App Photoshop (Free)
Shadermap ($20 PC)
Enhancing Normal Maps Tutorial @

More exciting concepts:

I noticed a few people confusing the idea of UV texture re-mapping and Normal Map re-lighting so I wanted to make sure people understand both concepts and possibly how they can be used together. In a 3D nut shell, UV Mapping allows texture replacing and Normal Maps allow 3D re-lighting.

Mylenium published a very detailed outline of UV map integration with a plug-in called RE:Map that allows After Effects to adjust texture positions.

Maltaannon demystified this concept and also created a very clever preset called “Youveelizer” ($29 CS4 Only) that also uses UV passes to adjust the bitmap textures of a 3D render in AE.

The Re:VisionFX plug-in Re:Map costs a bit more at $149.95 although it does work with earlier versions of After Effects.

I would hope people appreciate how much work Stefan has put into Normality over the years and especially now as a free tool for the community. Also, if you know of some applications or tutorials for working with Normals or related stuff, please share them, I’ll update the list if I think it’s good!

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