Element 3D for After Effects – new realtime plugin

Very interesting new $150 real-time plugin for Adobe After Effects CS6, called Element 3D. And no, it seems that it’s not the usual dubious claim of “I got two grainy frames per second, and I’m calling it real-time”.

3D Artist magazine reports…

“At first we couldn’t believe we were rotating over 100k polygon models, with 4k textures on them, in real time, and they were still looking amazing […] incredibly good results”

The software uses an OpenGL render engine (I’m not sure which version — the DAZ Studio viewport still uses the ancient 1.6), and has light presets, 20 shaders, multi-pass rendering in a dropdown menu, and a particle system. That all looks very tasty for a mere $150, especially for video and motion graphics people who find it scary once 3D goes beyond “3D spinning logos”.

Drawbacks seem to be that, unlike iClone, it isn’t optimised for complex or long scenes. Nor does it seem to be set up in any way for character animation. Plus, from what I remember of using After Effects back in the day, rendering the final video at full resolution is likely to take a lot longer than iClone.

Another drawback is that there’s no FBX import, which may limit your ability to speedily access 3D models from a big DAZ/Poser content library. Import is currently just plain old OBJ (with all the inevitable hassles arising from external textures) and Cinema 4D import.

For pro video makers who need a little 3D with some level of ease-of-use, it sounds like many people might be better off with Keyshot 3 ($900), rather than After Effects + Element 3D (around $850 all told). Since the simplicity of Keyshot 3 (learn it in one day) would save you months in having to wrestle with learning After Effects. You’d also get a better quality of render (not real-time, admittedly, but very fast). But if you already have and know After Effects, then Element 3D sounds like a very interesting realtime plugin, and one that can hopefully only get even better as it moves to version 2.0.


Interesting new(?) iPad publishing system 3DVia that claims to be able to take 3D models and slot them into iPad apps…

“…seamlessly integrates your images, video and 3D files into engaging, mobile-ready web apps for the Apple iPad platform. Just upload your media to 3DVIA.com, place it into the app design of your choice and publish.”

They also have an interesting 3DVia Store service, to help people get familiar with where things are in a physical store…

I haven’t looked into it too much, since it looks like the kind of service where “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”, but it would seem that the service must be pumping the end result to mobile devices in real-time? Hence it needs low-poly 3D. Now that we have “quickly build it in iClone and export to FBX with 3DXchange 5 Pro”, I wonder if this sort of service might be an emerging market for content creators and developers?

HitFilm 2.0

HitFilm (the excellent “poor man’s After Effects” software) has announced details of the forthcoming version 2. A couple of the more interesting new features…

* 3D model import and rendering [in] a rapid compositing workflow.

* New procedurally-generated FX.

Kickstarter bans 3D renderings

The popular crowd-funding service Kickstarter has banned all 3D renderings and animations…

“Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development.”

“Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.”

2012 Renderosity Halloween Contest

The 2012 Renderosity Halloween Contest has its 2012 theme: Unhappily Ever After. Entries are now being accepted…

“They often say that love happens the moment you lay eyes on that special someone for the very first time. It’s as if the stars were perfectly aligned and the two of you were destined to meet in order to share eternity with one another. But what if your soulmate was really not the person they seemed to be? That after the vows were exchanged and the last bit of cake had been eaten you soon discovered a haunting reality too frightening to even imagine. This is your opportunity to let your creative juices run wild and interpret what the complete opposite of wedded bliss might be.”

Deadline for entries: 16th of October 2012.