Surface Displacement

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?


July 19th, 2012 @ 10:59 pm
After 6 years of being a Video Copilot fan and waiting for you to show how to do this I finally can??? :)
    July 19th, 2012 @ 11:08 pm
    GOD HELP UP!!!!
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:08 pm
Game changer. Can you import materials from C4D?
ah shang
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:12 pm
this is CRAZYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:15 pm
Its Similar to rayfire tool .. !!! Can the epic Shatter effect done with this element 3d ??
    July 19th, 2012 @ 11:21 pm
    The object comes with Element and it is pre-fractured. Element doesn't fracture geometry but it let's you animate objects that have pieces.
    July 19th, 2012 @ 11:28 pm
    But lets take an example of epic shatter ... I take a Ball ...fracture it .. import it in element 3d .. i think it could be better result .. !!
    July 20th, 2012 @ 8:48 pm
    although element is great it doesn't compare to rayfire or any actual physics engine

    like how would you animate all the pieces bouncing around randomly in an actual surface
Matt H
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:17 pm
Impressive work Mr Kramer and co. This is one hell of a plug-in.
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:34 pm
This is litterally building 'awe' from the ground up!
    July 20th, 2012 @ 10:46 am
    You mean it has ground breaking results?!?
    July 21st, 2012 @ 6:53 am
    Good one Brian!
sunil thapa
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:37 pm
me 2 after being 6 yrs fans and student of VCP finally got fracture in adobe after effects thnx a lot .......
    July 20th, 2012 @ 1:53 am
    You don't get fracturing possibilities without having premade the model and pre-fracured it in a 3D software. Element jus lets you animate the pieces, thus creating a great effect and letting you not have to render 400 frames using a ray tracing app. Also, during six years you would have been able to learn and almost master any 3D software out there ...
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:46 pm
Wow!! I remember those good ol days when we had to use
pre-rendered alpha footage to fracture the ground and..

O wait.. That was last month :)
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:46 pm
I've just gotten into the after effects program this week, and when I stumbled upon this site, I realized that this is not something I can master in 1 day. How in the world will ever catch up to Andrew Kramer's intelligence?
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:51 pm
If you added Syntheyes + a 3D program, You could even take a still-frame from the video sequence, and use the concrete ground as a texture map for the geometry, then it would look perfect.
karthik vfx
July 20th, 2012 @ 12:05 am
You are my mentor Andrew. your tutorials are great
July 19th, 2012 @ 11:33 pm
Awesome Andrew that's your new name
July 20th, 2012 @ 12:40 am
What about camera projection only on more complex imported 3d geometry? For example to animate camera for matte painting?
    Steve Green
    July 20th, 2012 @ 1:30 am
    I thought the same - you can camera map in the 3D application in theory, but then you would be stuck with the UV mapping and couldn't adjust the starting position/size of the object in Element.

    The ideal would be to have a 'map from AE camera UV mapping' option in Element.
July 20th, 2012 @ 12:44 am
i think its the matte shadow option in element3d !! :)
July 20th, 2012 @ 12:46 am
Andrew, would it be possible in the future to bring in to element 3d an animated bin sequence or something similar from 3d package like 3ds max? Because it would be very cool if I could use a sofware like realflow, export an animation to 3ds max or cinema 4d and then bring it in to element and render ir out, would save heaps of render and compositing hours. Cheers ))
    July 20th, 2012 @ 1:07 am
    If it's not working with OBJ Sequences, it would be sweet if the OBJ's we import could read Point cache files!
July 20th, 2012 @ 1:19 am
Hey Andrew,

did you use the Cameratracker from The Foundry or the new one in After Effects CS6. I not sure, but it seems that the tracker from The Foundry is usless until CS6 released.
    July 20th, 2012 @ 8:51 pm
    what do you mean its useless?
    July 21st, 2012 @ 11:17 am
    I mean, since CS6 Camera Tracker is a built-in After Effects and this seems to work very well. The Camera Tracker "The Foundry" seems to have become so useless
    July 21st, 2012 @ 11:11 pm
    whoa there buddy the ae camera tracker is good but no where near as good or as accurate as the foundry camera tracker it has has more options and is much
    more customizable
July 20th, 2012 @ 1:34 am
Nice , very interesting !
July 20th, 2012 @ 1:50 am
Hey VCP, awesome plugin!!!
I'm now working on a project in which I need to connect 3D models to tracking data, I'm using Element 3D and CameraTracker...
but it doesn't work as smoothly as I thought it will...
when I create nulls from the tracking point and use them for Particle replicator position, it doesn't sit correctly.
the only solution I found was to adjust the camera's Zoom, but then you need to eyeball it, and since I'm using multiple layers of Element, it doesn't sit perfectly for all of them.
any solution? I saw that you're going to release a tut about this, but I'm pressed with a very tight schedule.
once again - cheers for the epic plugin
    July 27th, 2012 @ 7:05 pm
    i was wondering the same.i dont have the product yet but i was curious about placing 3d models using Element 3d to a tracked sequence.As i watched from the tuts yet, i kindda figured that theres no spesific anchor point for the model being used with element .it kindda looks like in the middle of the object but when you replicate the object that shifts to the middle of the replicated object group.How will we able to attach the 3d models depending on the shape of the object and the point that we want its anchor point to be ?<.< In Zaxwerks 3d i used to achieve that by shifting the object to the center of the grid in the plug in window,and then fine tune the point that i want the anchor point to be .I'd be very glad if you made a tutorial about Using element 3d with a tracked sequence Andrew.
Shadow Dancer
July 20th, 2012 @ 2:12 am
You didn't add any shadow, dust, smoke, small particles.... looks to solid. You just created a wave a smoke....Maybe you're busy but that wont convince me to see this kinda work from you. You already have another tutorial like this with that guy playing cards. That one was so much better than this. You didn't spent enough time for this one.
Sorry for bad English.
    July 21st, 2012 @ 2:34 am
    It Looks flat. It's weird to see a shot from Andrew that isn't perfect. I think he was busy or tired, it's understandable.
    hugo strange
    July 21st, 2012 @ 10:43 am
    Look At it Again:

    1:In the doesn't look flat. The video has been corrected,contrasted more it looks much more integrated in the scene.

    2.In the video You don't see a high level of motion Blur applied as the ground opens up.I'm sure there's some I could see it, but the pavement fragments are not moving fast. Motion blur could be bump up another 10 %.. (it's all about your taste)

    3.The still image is a raw footage ,untreated. Have you ever seen a previz shot ? they always look flat...IT'S NOT A FINAL SHOT !!!!!!!!

    4.the top most pavements are bright orange...why do you think that is ? ;-) I'll give you a hint,think of "something melting Hot" coming up.

    5.There isn't much more elements added, like dust,chunks of pavements bouncing off ground (particular for that one) an actual explosion (stock footage for that one)
    you don't even see a camera shake at the point of know why ? ...IT'S A DEMONSTRATION !!!!!!!

    6.I don't think Andrew messed up with this one, i think people are Failing with there imagination.... and some people don't understand that this is a process before the "FINAL SHOT" that's what he's sharing with us.

    If you are into VFX/Motion Graphics you should understand that !!!!
July 20th, 2012 @ 2:50 am
You mentioned mini choppers check this mini chopper advert out
July 20th, 2012 @ 3:23 am
Man, you really shouldn't park your car there any longer... Choppers, Earthquakes - what comes next? Tremors? ;-)
July 20th, 2012 @ 3:30 am
Wooow Awesome , I Love Videocopilot
July 20th, 2012 @ 3:39 am
Sir, Can u please tell us how to make Breaking Glass pieces in slow motion.
July 20th, 2012 @ 3:43 am
It's awesome! I want tutorial :D!
July 20th, 2012 @ 4:00 am

You could you make a tutorial (or recommend one) about how to export those diffuse and normal maps from 3ds max in order to be used on Element 3D.

That would be really helpful.
    July 20th, 2012 @ 8:57 pm
    for diffuse you don't need to export any thing diffuse is the original image or the colour map

    for the normals you could find an normal generator like crazy bump it it costs a bit but it works great it will also generate specular,Ambient Occlusion,And even regular bump maps

    but if you mean how he maps them to the UV map i would also like to know that
Goutham R
July 20th, 2012 @ 4:18 am
Love this product... But this shot was bot as realistic comparing to your other works... Sorry to say..
    Goutham R
    July 20th, 2012 @ 4:18 am
July 20th, 2012 @ 4:39 am
Very effective but a little bit unrealistic... in my opinion
Well.. element 3d is always great anyway!
July 20th, 2012 @ 5:03 am
Hey Andrew!
I just wanted to say that the plug-in ELEMENT is freakin amazing! I just created a 3D animation in about 30 minutes which had took me days in common 3d programs! Just AMAZING! I am following video copilot since 3 years now and I love this product! Keep up the good work! :D
Rick Owens
July 20th, 2012 @ 5:16 am
Now that Andrew and Company have completely changed the game with this plugin, NOW, we're going to need a tutorial on match lighting the scene to make the objects look realistic in the scene. I see that AK has it down, but I'm gonna need some serious help with it because what I've done so far looks cartoonish in comparison. It's got to look real in order to sell it to my clients.
July 20th, 2012 @ 5:51 am
I wanne give a big praise to the support of Videocopilot!! (And of course I get Money for that :-))
i had some problems with my GraficCard driver and the Motion design Pack. The Support was really fast and very good. The Problems were solved just in Time without complicated instructions. Thank you for this Matt Kramer, Bryan Burkhardt and Sérgio Gil.
And thanks Andrew for this amazing rock´n roll Plug-in

best regards from Germany
July 20th, 2012 @ 6:05 am
very good job Andrew bw i asked this question before no one answered me: is there any physics in the plugin as rigid body or gravity or reactor effect etc?
    July 20th, 2012 @ 6:54 am
    Ahmad, I think this was discussed in earlier posts. To the best of my knowledge there is no physics engine of any sort in Element 3D. I think that's correct.
Isaac K. Jenius
July 20th, 2012 @ 6:14 am
I was wondering, could you make a similar plugin for Photoshop?

The 3D text I saw in one of your recent tutorials with all those presets were amazingly better than any logo creation software I've ever used! (Including Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks etc...)
I'm not saying you cant make 3D logos like the ones in Element, but in the applications I mentioned, its so hard!

With your plugin, you can make a professional 3D logo with a few clicks of a button! If anything, I'd been take screen shots of my comp to make a 3D logo!

What do you think?
-Isaac K.
    July 20th, 2012 @ 8:59 pm
    Sometimes its better to learn the hard way
July 20th, 2012 @ 6:16 am
Wow... nice work.
Is there any chance of getting a demo/test version out perhaps that is only the interface with very limited options (just a default tea pot object and a few shaders) just so we see how it runs on our system? I'm to scared to get it and find I need to spend money on a gpu before I can use it..? I kow there is a list, but mines at the bottom.. :/
July 20th, 2012 @ 6:25 am
You stated that not all models are optimized for Element 3D? I have watched the tutorial and you stated Triangles as the import method, but if I am going to build my own models in Blender what else do I need to do to optimize them?
July 20th, 2012 @ 6:46 am
The parking lines disappear. Any way to fix that?
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:00 am
Andrew......Get some sleep dude! I have no idea how you manage a family, work and this great community all at once. It truly is a credit to you. I baby sat my neice for an hour while making a sphere of grapes with element today and I was exhausted!
    July 20th, 2012 @ 7:56 am
    I know, get some sleep buddy - I don't know how you manage all this at once, but it's awesome! :))
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:15 am
Hello there Andrew,
incidentally I was trying to do a similar effect...
have a look on what I achieved... Isn't really that great cause I wasnt even trying to do it better, and it's on standard def cause i dont own a dslr.

But can you achieve it THAT realistic as it should be on a real project with Element?
    July 20th, 2012 @ 7:18 am
    Oh btw I created this using Cinema 4d and boujou to track the scene although this a still image I have the whole project undone as I cant camera-track my last scene.
    July 21st, 2012 @ 2:37 am
    Add some shadow under his feet and his punch. :)
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:19 am
Is there any documentation for this plugin? I'm enjoying just putzing around with it but it would be nice to be able to just read through a list of options and settings instead of scrubbing through all these tutorial video's.

I'm also wondering if it's possible to animate UV settings? Animating UV offset could look really nice with things like grid textures on abstract meshes.
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:28 am
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:40 am
Tutorial!! The only way I can make this work is with luma, and the doesn't look half as good
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:55 am
Nice! Tracking tutorial, iv'e been assuming that there would be one coming'll be even better when it's showing how to integrate 3d tracking data with element and, oh, that opens up a LOT of possibilities! :)
July 20th, 2012 @ 8:06 am
Really impressive...
Is there a way to integrate particular in the 3d enviroment?
It just keep being below or over element layer, no way to get it inbetween..?
    July 21st, 2012 @ 12:48 am
    need to ad a Z-depth
July 20th, 2012 @ 8:09 am
if i copy my metal texture inside the folder pro shaders map
element3d cant open ?
    July 21st, 2012 @ 6:56 am
    To apply your custom texture, in the Edit windows "Texture" section, right after the item Diffuse, Specular, Normal Bump, and/or Occlusion, click on each and browse to the folder that you stored texture, select the texture.
    Tim QN
    July 21st, 2012 @ 7:12 am
    To apply your custom texture, in the Edit window Textures section, click on the white highlight area right after item Diffusion, Specular, Occlusion, and/or Normal bump, then browse your texture by clicking on dropdown list then click on Load from file...
July 20th, 2012 @ 8:16 am
This parking lot reminds me of Payment Plan!!! :)
    July 20th, 2012 @ 9:53 am
    Me too. :)
July 20th, 2012 @ 9:03 am
Why didn't the parking stall painted lines break up with the rest of the ground? :D
July 20th, 2012 @ 9:06 am
love to hav plugins like this
Shadow Dancer
July 20th, 2012 @ 10:08 am
You didn’t add any shadow, dust, smoke, small particles…. looks to solid. You just created a wave a smoke….Maybe you’re busy but that wont convince me to see this kinda work from you. You already have another tutorial like this with that guy playing cards. That one was so much better than this. You didn’t spent enough time for this one.
Sorry for bad English.
    July 21st, 2012 @ 12:26 am
    Andrew does them for free, be grateful.
July 20th, 2012 @ 10:12 am
Good thing you didn't park your helicopter there yet when this happened.
Jonathan Marais
July 20th, 2012 @ 9:29 am
Just bought ELEMENT 3D Studio Bundle!!! Can't wait to get back to the office on Monday to start playing.

Quick question: since Element doesn't use raytracing for reflections. Is there a way of "faking" an objects reflection? I thought of maybe duplicating the 3D object to another group and the dropping the opacity and setting the scale to -100% in the 2nd group... Pretty much how I faked it with 2D layers (Before VC Reflect that is)
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:25 pm
Now this is what am trying to ask you, Andrew, could you make a tutorial about this how to do it?
July 20th, 2012 @ 7:30 pm
what you think andrew about texturing the model and all that good stuff.
you took my parking spot so i had to park on the street:)
    July 21st, 2012 @ 1:58 am
July 21st, 2012 @ 12:09 am
I spotted "pro" next to the author of this video...You really don't have to write it, we know it. :)
Richard oakes
July 21st, 2012 @ 3:21 am
is there any way of exporting 3d objects from element? I.E extrude some text then send it to blender to fracture and re import to element to animate?
    July 21st, 2012 @ 11:47 am
    Not currently, but it is a good idea.
    July 21st, 2012 @ 8:53 pm
    I agree that creating 3d text in element is about as fast and good looking as it gets although I would approach it from the other end and cut out even more steps.
    Instead of adding an export function to element, why not add a basic fracture/slicer function to Element?
July 21st, 2012 @ 4:26 am
See, I told you it was a ground breaking plug-in.
July 21st, 2012 @ 10:52 am
That's pretty impressive. I'd love to see what you could do if you redid that scene and aimed for photorealism: adding dust, smaller bits of debris (maybe with a particle system?), etc. It seems like it would be really easy to make in a few hours what used to take days…
July 21st, 2012 @ 11:00 am
hey andrew, where do u get ur sound effects ?
July 21st, 2012 @ 11:16 am
hey .. Andrew... I would like to see how the crystal ball you created for 122. Epic Shatter looks in ELEMENT 3D.
July 21st, 2012 @ 1:52 pm
Hey Andrew,

Used your plugin in my short film

Thanks for making it!
July 21st, 2012 @ 2:06 pm
Can you show us in a tutorial how to integrated other afx 3d elements(particles from Particular or a plane in 3d space) who "interact" with a Element 3D object (for example I wanted to add a fireburst with Particular which sticks to the engine ot a flying spaceship [Element 3d object]. I tried different approaches but couldn't make it work)
July 21st, 2012 @ 6:44 pm
I would love to see some options for the groups to be faded in or other transitional effects. I was trying to make a text animation where I had text seperately per group and I was trying to figure out ways to make them appear and dissapear. If there were to be presets for them would make it easier.
July 21st, 2012 @ 6:06 pm
Huge Strange nailed it earlier. For the love of God, not everything must be perfect. I love seeing the process unfold. Personally, this one was about element integrated in to a moving scene which I've been very interested in. When I see nit picky comments it reminds me of when i post a demo/test shot on YouTube and people use the stupid dislike button. Lol. I mean who really uses that especially when you say it's a test?
July 21st, 2012 @ 7:14 pm
Andrew I like to ask. Are you planning to add to the plugin with Cast Shadows options?
July 21st, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

I've been watching all the tutorials and reading some of the comments, and I believe some people are a little confused.

If a simple "real life" fracture is what you're looking for:

You select your fracture item (eg sphere or floor) and it appears in the main display as a white object.

You then click on the "materials" drop down menu for that item, and drag your "real world" jpeg into one of the texture boxes, eg drag your jpeg of a wooden floor into the Diffuse, and/or Specular box of your chosen item.

You then work that object into your AE composition, if its an actual jpeg taken from a still of the actual filming location etc, then making it fit into the scene and look realistic is not too difficult.
July 22nd, 2012 @ 1:40 pm
I just did this little tracking test using the grenade from the weapons pack. It stays locked in place very well but I can't figure out how to get a shadow to do the same. Right now it just looks like it's floating but a shadow would place it right on the surface I think.

Andrew - I hope a tutorial to get in to this is coming soon! :)

Kirk Productions
July 22nd, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

just been using camera tracker with your new element plugin, fantastic for set extension work. My test footage has showed some fantastic results so far. The only thing I would like to have is the facility to use my own HDRI, though the samples you have provided are actually quite good.

I am looking at using nulls in z space linked in with various depth points to link particle effects. Hopefully I can convince this plugin to use cards still experimenting. However matching bounce in particular with integrated 3d has suddenly become a lot easier. Also as a added texture could you do a checkerboard so that measuring for texture painting can be made easier.

Well done to you and your team,

July 23rd, 2012 @ 2:00 am
Please show us how to do this The ground break I need to know how to do that for a Movie I am doing
July 23rd, 2012 @ 7:05 am
hhh, wow wow wow was so cool, thanks Andrew for that great product!
July 24th, 2012 @ 2:01 am
everytime I have an effects problem you come out with the solution..
It's creepy in the best possible way.

There I was wondering how I was going to render out all those backgrounds in C4d for 100 plus shots. Now I don't have to. Looking forward to the 3d tracking tut.

I'm reaching for my wallet. Element is freakin awesome. Well done VCP and thanks!
July 24th, 2012 @ 9:39 am
This kind of surface displacement is nice, really =)

Buuuuuuut... I would LOVE to see displacement textures (which can use custom layers!) which can be applied to any material.

Have you thought about these, Andrew? Maybe for 1.1??

Cheers, Oli
July 25th, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

how to intregate scene set up with other scene setup..
i'm making it with 2 scene set up with different 2 solid.
the other scene set up is splitting...

can u explain how to make it join it..

August 31st, 2012 @ 12:17 pm
is there a tutorial for this ??? How did you shade the ground textures wow
    November 30th, 2012 @ 6:35 pm
    how did? you get the ground texture on the blocks?
November 30th, 2012 @ 7:35 pm
how did you get the ground texture on the blocks?
August 18th, 2013 @ 12:16 pm
andy please upload a Surface Displacement tutorial :) i wanna try
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