Big tutorial Tuesday! I know we have been doing a lot of Element stuff lately we are very excited to bring a new dimension to the After Effects world but this new tutorial has it all! Yes we take a look at using Element but the tutorial is really about setting up your 3D tracking data so that you can composite anything into 3D space. This includes, 3D Layers, other plug-ins and even stock footage. You can even use AE CS6 text extrusion if you don’t have Element 3D.
In this tutorial we will cover:
- Using built-in 3D Camera tracking in AE CS6 and The Foundry Camera Tracker
- Setup and align the ground plane and adjust 3D coordinates
- Composite 3D object with Element 3D
- Build Matte Shadow object inside Element 3D to “catch” soft shading (ambient occlusion)
- Generate a realistic hard shadow from 3D objects using a simple trick
- Match AE lighting and color correct Truck to match the scene environment
- Breakdown compositing footage from Action Essentials 2 and making 3D debris
Here is another fun example using Element 3D with live action footage and 3D Camera tracking. I’ll be posting a 3D tracking tutorial soon but for the explosion, I used some Action Essentials 2 along with some colored lights to create the fire illumination.
The truck model was imported in to Element and one of the tires had a separate material so that it could be animated separately from the rest of the vehicle. All animation, lighting and rendering done inside After Effects with Element 3D!
Element 3D Available in the Video Copilot Store!
Exciting news for a boring (but crucial) feature… Anti-Aliasing! Element 3D is about to get some powerful new options next week that will clean your clock! Or at least your edges with impressive Super-Sampling!
What is anti-aliasing? Basically it’s the method used to reduce jagged artifacts in your renders with sharp highlights or reflections like the above example.
Currently Element 3D uses hardware Multi-Sampling which is very fast but with extreme highlights and thin edges, some renders may look flickery or jagged. Not any more. We’re listening to our customers and so we created an impressive new solution called Super-Sampling.
-Maintains crisp image quality and textures
-Smooths sharp edges and highlights
-Improved clarity of high-poly detailed models
-Easy to use, just turn it on!
Super-Sampling basically renders your frame “super” large and then re-samples down to the frame size. This allows more detail to be saved and smoothed properly from the extra data. But, it does this on the GPU using a special render method.
The new method will add a minimal performance hit but it will NOT require additional MEMORY! (This is kind-of a big deal…) The other great thing is that you can turn it on when needed or just the final render. Element is all about control!
To give you an ideas of the performance… A 10 second render time will be around 20 seconds with 2X Super-Sampling. Not too bad considering Element 3D is already blazing fast!
Available Next Week:
This update will be free to current and new customers of Element 3D and includes many bug fixes and improvements. If you think we’re going to let this product stand still, watch out!
Here is a clever use of our new Plug-in Element 3D by Serge Mustu using pre-fractured text in creative ways.
I even have more tutorials planned this week and also a 3D Tracking tutorial to talk about integrating 3D with live-action footage. More importantly though, we’ll learn how to manage a scene with 3D tracking data and not have everything in weird places and crazy scale values. Should be fun as we push the limits of AE!
Reminder we are looking for experienced C++ Programmers if you would like to join our team!
Here is new tutorial that shows how to use Element 3D replicator options with many new tips!
- Using position noise
- Use 3D object as replicator shape
- Use Layer alpha as replicator shape
- Assign multiple objects to a single group
- Create particles on the surface of a 3D object
- Auto-Orientation and rotation options
UPDATED: Here is the final animation with Sound Design
Hey everybody! Video Copilot is looking for talented programmers to work with Video Copilot and we even made this graphic for you! (Yes we used our new Element Plug-in to render it)
We are dedicated to expanding our 3D technology and need to build our team to push the limits of 3D capabilities! Are you a C++ programmer with 3+ years of experience using Open GL and want to do some exciting creative engineering? We need you!
-Expert Open Gl 3D programming with C++
-Optimizing code for real-time rendering
-Attention to detail!
-Team player with great communication skills (English)
This is a remote position, a fast internet connection is required along with Skype account and microphone.
Use the subject “OpenGL Programmer” and email resume and related experience to:
Please include any related project experience or information that is relevant to this position.
Thank you and we look forward to working with you!
Here is another technical example of integrating the animation engine with live action footage using our powerful new 3D object plug-in Element 3D. I’m currently working on a 3D camera tracking tutorial that should make it easy to work with 3D tracking data inside of After Effects. Once the footage is tracked, it is easy to add objects and change the scene around, you could even add mini-choppers! Think of the possibilities… what will you create?
It’s hard enough to find parking but why do people have to use up two spots!
Here’s another experiment using Element 3D to simulate shadows for this mid-sized helicopter. Mini-Chopper are Compact and great for traveling! Also great for shadow examples in small spaces.
Element 3D doesn’t do native shadows (yet…) but using some simple techniques I was able to cast realistic looking shadows underneath the helicopter. Sometimes a simple black solid with a mask will work and for more accurate shadows you can even use a copy of the model from a top view.
I even placed colored lights in the scene to match the environment lighting from several angles.
Element DOES have Ambient Occlusion so if you need inner-object shading, don’t forget to use the Ambient Occlusion options to add depth to your scene. See the example below:
I’ll be making some short tutorial tips for this technique and others and remember these work well in other situations besides working with Element 3D, like using particles or stock footage that need shadows to integrate with a scene better.
I just updated our Element Help page to include 2 new tutorials to talk about some of the less flashy features of Element 3D. These should really help you get going with the plug-in and hopefully show you some tricks you may not know about. I probably should have had this done when we released the product but here they are now! More tutorials in the works soon.
Beyond the Basics:
Everything you need to know to get started!
- Customizing UI
- Adding textures
- Basic texture mapping options
- Using animated custom texture maps
- Material settings overview
- Force Opacity
- Using multiple Groups
- Lighting & Ambient Occlusion
Importing Objects & Building Materials:
C4D tips, OBJ exporting and more!
- Exporting 3D objects for Element 3D
- Exporting from Blender & 3D Max (works with other software too)
- Tips for working with C4D files in Element
- Exporting multiple materials to view in Element
- Rebuilding materials with texture images
- Illumination maps and Occlusion maps
- Advanced Shader design and adjustments
In this exciting new tutorial, we’ll create an impressive 3D logo right inside of After Effects using the new plug-in Element 3D. First we create masks of the logo and use Element to extrude and animate the final result.
The key to a dramatic title like this is lighting! You want to keep things dark and add subtle contrasting lights. You definitely don’t want to have everything lit up and bright or it will be less mysterious and therefore unmysterious. Which is not a word, which is why it is bad.
Here is the final result that we will be creating!
Here’s another dramatic logo I created with our new plug-in Element 3D using extruded masks. I used the Pro Shaders for the surface and I’m currently working on a short tutorial for this project right now! For those who saw an early version of it, I updated this one with some additional moving parts. Watch it in full screen baby!
The plug-in just came out last week but be sure to check it out!
This project with DOF took less than 7 minutes to render with my Geforce 580 at 720p.
Not too shabby.
The dust has not even settled after releasing our new plug-in Element 3D and we already have a maintenance update for our new plug-in Element 3D because that’s how we roll!
We’re dedicated to making this plug-in rock solid and we appreciate the feedback and responsiveness from you guys. Our team has been working through the night to fix a few bugs and improve the plug-in and the update is now live. New customers will automatically get it and previous customers just need to reinstall the plug-in.
You’ll also notice that inside the plug-in we added a handy notification that will tell you if a new update is available so you can stay current. BTW: The download system will also automatically add a new download try to your account when we release updates. We really tried to make this process as easy as possible!
IMPORTANT: Please be sure to update your graphics Drivers from ATI.com or NVIDIA.com for best performance with ELement 3D! We found some of the auto-updates for the drivers don’t have access to the latest unless you go to the website.
On mac, the driver updates are inside the OS updates so make sure your system is up to date for newest drivers.
Our new Plug-in Element 3D is now available. Use it to render impressive 3D objects and particles inside of After Effects. Great for Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. Check out the Product Features!
Here is a visual effects example with some re-purposed footage of Sam Loya. Watch Video! I know my roto job is bad… and I feel bad.
Another Motion Graphics Example Watch now!
Our new plug-in Element 3D is now available! Be sure to watch the new video about the rendering engine and the 3D text!
Most importantly. Thank you all for the amazing support, you have no idea what it means to our team and myself after putting so much work into this project. Alright, no more talking…
UPDATE: Now Available
We are only one day away from launching our new plug-in Element 3D and a new demonstration video is online to show you creative ways to animate 3D objects with the plug-in. Think of other creative uses while you watch!
All feature videos will be online tomorrow with in-depth plug-in info. This is crazy!
Here are the bundles that will be available tomorrow plus the new Studio Bundle!
NOTE: Products will be on sale in the middle of the day on Tuesday not at midnight. We got to get some sleep too!
UPDATE: Now Available
We were going to wait and surprise everyone with this news but I see a lot of people wondering where they can find quality 3D models and the answer is now at Video Copilot!
If you have ever purchased a 3D model you know they are pretty expensive, usually ranging from $40-$100 for a SINGLE high quality model so we thought we could save you some time and maybe some money with our very own professionally designed 3D models! All objects are compatible with Element 3D plus your favorite 3D program as well. We’ve included two universal formats (OBJ & FBX) to be ready for your creative works in Element or your favorite dedicated 3D program! (Cinema 4D, 3D Max, Maya, Blender and more)
We have been working with some talented 3D artists to bring these packs to life and they have done an amazing job! So I’d like to thank Stefan, Alexander, Theo and Bobby, I’m sure they are glad the notes are over (“Let’s make that a little more grungy, That one Less shiny, This should be 50% more delicious”.
We have also put these models through some serious quality control to make sure every model meets a high standard. We didn’t just export the 3D files to OBJ & FBX, we opened each one in many popular 3D programs to make sure the polygons loaded correctly.
They will be available with Element 3D this Tuesday including some new bundles. I think we all need a vacation after this!
Stay tuned for another Element 3D tutorial featuring the “Animation Engine”! And to keep expectations under control, it does NOT do physics since simulations since you lose control of Objects but it is quite powerful nonetheless. I will tell you the animation system is what spawned this entire plug-in almost 2 years ago…
If you haven’t seen the Element 3D preview, here it is again:
UPDATE: Now Available
So we are only days away from launching our new plug-in Element 3D (Watch DEMO VIDEO) and as you may know it renders using OpenGL on your graphics card. We are working on a more official list of supported cards but here are some general requirements and info.
Video Card Memory:
We recommend at least 1GB of video memory but 512MBs will work fine. We technically support 256MB cards but you will be limited on texture capabilities and you can actually buy a killer card for $150 right now which will boost performance a ton.
Minimum Cards Supported:
Nvidia Geforce 8800 and newer.
ATI 3870 and newer.
Support includes Geforce Series: 9000, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, Quadro 4000 (4800), 5000
We HIGHLY recommend that you update your graphics card drivers from ATI or Nvidia for best performance. Users on Macintosh should update there OS which includes updated drivers.
- Element 3D does not require CUDA only Open GL.
- Quadro 4000 and similar cards on the mac are supported! We even have a fix for Optical Flares to allow full GPU performance in an update that will be out later this month.
I’ll have a full list of cards soon but you can look up your card online to see if it supports these features: DirectX 10 / OpenGL 3.3 / Shader Model 4
If you are in the market for a new card here are some nice picks:
$150: (For the price, these are insane cards)
NVidia GeForce GTX 560
AMD Radeon HD 6870
$300: (This is similar to performance of my machine a 580)
NVidia GeForce GTX 570
AMD Radeon HD 7870
NVidia GeForce GTX 680
AMD Radeon HD 7970
UPDATE: Now Available
If you are still wondering exactly what Element 3D is all about, check out this new video!
The video shows you exactly what it is like to work with the plug-in so you can see the impressive controls and ease of use.
There are many more features to cover in the next few days so stay tuned for those!
Features shown in this video:
- All New Element User Interface
- Importing 3D Objects with Textures!
- Interactive Lighting
- Material Options and Presets
- Group Array System
- Environment Mapping
- Motion Blur and Depth of Field
- New Expansion Pack demonstrations: Pro Shaders & the Motion Design Pack
The Element Plug-in will remain at the low price of $149.95, and we will also have several bundle options available as well!
Element will be available Tuesday, July 10 2012!
UPDATE: Now Available
As we approach the release date for our new plug-in Element 3D, I started thinking about where this plug-in started and what inspired us to make it a reality.
I’ve been working with traditional 3D programs since Ray Dream 3D, followed by 3D max over 10 years ago when it was published by discreet. (Crazy to think about how long it’s been!).
What I loved (and still do) about 3D is that there was always something new to learn! One day I want to fly helicopters, then I want to create explosions or realistic ocean waves. And what I’ve learned is that there is not a single or right way to do anything. It’s all an illusion, the goal is to create something that “looks” good any way possible. There may be scientifically more accurate ways to calculate lighting but accurate doesn’t necessarily mean better in fact it usually means slower.
The true balance was finding the sweet spot between the final look and a realistic render time because if you can’t deliver a shot then it doesn’t matter how good it will look when it is done rendering. I remember having to render my 3D at lower resolution and then scale up in After Effects to get things done on time. I was desperate, I got smarter and learned to manage my render requirements.
Then computers got better, stronger & faster and render engines pushed the limits of photo-realism with the use of global illumination and micro-triangle displacement! The quality of modern raytracing engines like Vray, Renderman & Cinema 4Ds really is spectacular. But the way raytracing works can be CPU intensive so on projects without unlimited render power, artist still have to find the right balance.
Meanwhile the video game industry was innovating with a different approach. REALTIME. Games are meant to be played so the worlds need to render on the fly. With popular game titles breaking records, the graphics card industry exploded with new innovations and developers tried to make the most realistic games as possible while maintaining realtime performance on current graphics cards. Some developers went a little too far like the Crytek game that was notoriously sluggish at maximum quality but the graphics were undeniable at the time. I personally think Battlefield 3 has the best quality rendering without affecting gameplay performance although I admit I’m more of a Doom guy myself
So what does it all mean? Well here was our idea… Video games look pretty dang good, and they render in realtime, so what if we could use the same OpenGL capabilities to create a custom 3D engine and then add professional features as well? So we did! Our early tests were promising and we kept pushing the limits while maintaining speed and visual quality.
We even added things to our engine that game developer could never do because everything in their world MUST be realtime but in the creative world, some rendering is expected. So we could add powerful features that would be too slow for a game engine but blazing fast for creative artists.
We know that OpenGL doesn’t handle raytracing, so 3D objects do not reflect other nearby objects BUT with Reflection Maps, we can still create impressive materials that still look great and still render fast! Our goal was to create a plug-in that could fill the gap between the world of 3D and After Effects so you can composite while you work.
We want Element to appeal to professional 3D artists that want to save time when possible and non-3D artists looking to reach the next level. Plus we want to put the fun back in 3D for everyone!
When I look at some of the things that Element has rendered… I can’t believe they came out of a Plug-in,
Happy Independence day too! Will Smith’s best movie!