Have you ever wanted to be an unlicensed building contractor? Today we are announcing the release date for our new 3D model pack METROPOLITAN. This collection features over 100 3D buildings and specialized reflection maps for creating incredible city shots with Element 3D! The pack will be available Tuesday, Jan 22 2013!

In addition to Element 3D, we have also taken the time to build each object for your favorite 3D program too. Including Cinema 4D, 3D Max and 3D Max with Vray, as well as OBJ and FBX with materials pre-setup. This model pack is our  most comprehensive and there may be a few surprises yet to come. Trailer and demo videos to follow. Have a safe new year!


Revolution Intro: Behind the Scenes!

Recently I had the opportunity to work on the Intro and Title for a new Bad Robot show called Revolution by NBC. The show takes place 15 years after the power mysteriously goes out. The objective of the intro was to show the transformation of time passing in a stylistic time-lapse ways to help establish the world.  And although we were visualizing 15 years in only a few seconds, the reality is that we only had a few weeks to get it done! I thought I would highlight some challenging aspects of the project and share some insights with you.

The main title  was created in After Effects using Element 3D and some proprietary tools we are developing.  The majority of the work was manually animating masks to flicker each letter but also hinting at the word “EVOLUTION”. Since the title had a lot of glowing to it, I decided to use 32BPC to keep the glow intensities consistent and natural looking. There is also a bit of smoke from Action Essentials 2 behind the letters.

We wanted to show that time had passed from after things stopped working.  We filmed real plants using a slow shutter and low frame rate of 1 fps to create a time-lapse plant growing vibe.  This makes the plants flicker and shake in the wind. We then took the plants and animated them to grow taller with the backgrounds.

What is an apocalypse without the ruined courthouse?! We wanted to make the emptiness and destruction less depressing so we leaned towards a more green and lush vegetation. One of the shows Matte Painters helped give the building a nice worn out look with IVY and then I used our plug-in Element 3D to animate some of the leaves and Ivy. The trick here was getting the ivy to wrap around the pillars and to obscure the plants as they intersect the concrete. The white pillars here show the matte geometry that was used to cut the edges and cast ambient occlusion on the surface. I also used the animation engine to progressively animate the leaves outward.

Using Element 3D and the multi-object system, I was able to load 3D plants and animate the rotation to fake the wind blowing. To get the plants to grow where I wanted I also used a layer for the replicator where I wanted plants to grow.

Using multiple copies of Element 3D, I placed growing plants all around this scene some even show ivy climbing the gas pumps.
See plant growth in action!

Overall this was a lot of fun to work on, very challenging and with the time-constraints we had to find a workflow that would get the project done on time. It’s always fun to mix motion graphics with visual effects, my 2 favorite things!


Pro Shaders for Cinema 4D is now Available!

Our Pro Shaders for Cinema 4D is now available to New and Current owners of the Pro Shaders pack.  We rebuilt each shader to work natively in Cinema 4D as a free upgrade to those who would like to use them.  Just sign in to your customer account to download, we even created an easy installer!  Enjoy.

Previous customers will see the Cinema 4D installer under the Pro Shaders product.

After Effects Feature Requests?

UPDATE: Make your features come true, File a Feature Request with ADOBE!

Our buddy Todd Kopriva at Adobe just posted an article outlining top feature requests from the After Effects community in 2012 and while you browse the comprehensive list, do you see your top features there?

Here are a few of my top features that should be on that list!

Improve Expressions Speed:
As I outlined in 2010, expression run-time should be much faster! This feature is still high on my list because expressions are very powerful but can weigh down a project if they get too complex. I notice major speed hits when using complex expression like those generated from using Sure Target 2!


Duplicate Layer Instances:
The option to make a copy of a layer with effects like Particular or Element 3D and have the effects sync throughout the project when edited. So if you change one instance, they will all change, but at anytime you can disconnect it from the group and customize individually. Basically when you repeat certain effects it can be cumbersome to go through the entire project and update the effects for each copy. This would save time and avoid forgetting about a rogue copy.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Copy option called “Copy as Instance” then when you paste it, the parameters have a highlight color so that you know it is connected to other parameters. Then maybe an icon next to the effect name that can be clicked to disconnect an instance and make it independent.

Must we pre-compose everything!?
It would be great if pre-composing wasn’t required every time you want to reference a layer from a plug-in.  We all have been there, you want a plug-in to use a layer but it won’t work until you pre-compose or flatten that layers effects. So you pre-compose it even though you really don’t want to! This problem is even worse when you have 3D layers, because then you need to copy the camera into the pre-comp as well and keep updating it every time you want to change the camera.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Have a layer switch like the 3d or motion blur switch on the layer that is called “Render First” or “mimic precomposing”. This way you can mimic pre-composing when you need to.

Render Output in folder:
Having just completed graphics for a trailer that needed to be translated into 8 languages, it would be nice if I didn’t have to create a folder for every single output sequence.  It would be nice if there was an output setting to “Place in Folder” that could be saved into a template. Then whatever you name the files will be the name of the folder. Saving precious minutes!!!

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Output option check-box “Place in folder”. I know there are scripts for this but C’mon!

Improved Light options:
AE lights could use some upgrading now that 3D is becoming more common. Here are a few suggestions:

– Controllable Light range. Not just falloff but cutoff.
– Ambient Light with distance range. Instead of ambient light everywhere, it would be cool to have a radial range for things to illuminate objects evenly without the specularity from a point light.
– Better Light icons and representation in the viewer
– Exclude specific layers from Lights. Maybe.

Bonus Feature: Kill shape layers! Well at least disconnect them from the mask tool.

What are your top feature requests for After Effects?