I love Element 3D. It's lightning fast, gives nice-looking renders, has a nice interface, and has about the fastest and easiest beveled text you'll find.
It's a particle array system, not a particle generator (meaning it works more like Trapcode Form than Trapcode Particular). You can easily animate the parameters that drive the particle array. It also allows you to import 3D objects and integrate them into AE scenes.
It's not a 3D modeler. It's not a full-on animation package. It's not a ray-tracer, so it's no good for realistic lighting, shadows, reflections, or refractions. I don't see Element entirely replacing AE's ray tracer, tools like Mettle FF/SSAE or Zaxwerks, or proper 3D applications like C4D.
Element 3D doesn't do it all -- but what it does do, it does very well and very fast. It may not be the only 3D app/plugin in your toolkit, but I think it will quickly become a must-have effect for motion graphics artists.
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Concerning the shadows, I agree that the fact that Element doesn't have built-in shadows is a bit of a problem as Ambient Occlusion cannot always do the tricks.
I made a script yesterday that creates a shadow caster for a layer with Element under After Effect CS6:
1) Create a camera, a room or walls and a directionnal light. Here I also added an Optical Flares layer to have a pretty light:
2) Make sure the renderer is set to Ray-Tracer, that the materials of the room accept shadows and that the light casts them.
3) Add a layer with Element 3D right above the layers for the 3D scene:
4) Select the Element layer and the light and run the script:
5) The shadow should appear:
Now for the features:
- the shadow is linked to the light, so if you move the light, the shadow updates.
- the shadow is built from a depth pass rendered by Element, so the objects closer to the light cast a darker shadow.
- you can create one shadow caster per light
- for the moment this is for directionnal lights only (spot, parallel)
- you can get clipping of the shadow if the light is too close to the object, in this case you need to increase the dimensions of the shadow comp and its layers until the whole object is visible in this comp.
- once the shadow is created, it uses a copy of the Element 3D layer you made. So if you change the settings in Element 3D you need to delete the shadow comp and re-run the script
Do write me if you have any issue and if you spot any bug.
The name of the game with Element is fast and good looking 3d. Here's an example of an animation that took me a few hours when I barely knew the plugin:
It would have taken me a few days before Element to get this result using various 3d plugins and external 3d software.
The Videocopilot website has some great videos introducing Element.
Like Walter, I do not see Element as a "all in all" 3d plugin, but a must have along with Mettle and Zaxwerks. Best thing for me- it works great with my ATI card, no NVIDIA only here....(I think I will add this to all my posts until Adobe changes the situation).
I am just surprised that you managed to have the text in wireframe mode and transparent. I played around with the "force opacity" and the "Dimension - glow + shadow" Effect but somehow I am not happy with the result. It's not as good as yours.
I must admit that I only spent few minutes on it, so I'll try again later but would be nice to have a page full of TIPs and Tricks with Element 3D as so far we only have the few tutorials of Andrew on videocopilot - which are of course amazing - but would like to have some more.
Hey, Sam !
I had been waiting for a while for that plugin to come out and when it finally did I bought it first chance I got.
Right away I started playing around with it and with the few models that are shipped with it and the results are truly gratifying. Especially when you take into account the short time it takes to make some really fun stuff !
Plus it's really cheap for such a powerful plugin, which pretty much makes it a must have.
Here are a few examples of what tried over the week since I bought element.
And a couple more with some imported terrain mesh and trying some animated bump normal maps for the water surface...
A fun challenge would be to try to do the opening title of Lost in less than two minutes. I managed to do a pretty close lookalike in 2 minutes and 30 seconds...
I work all the time with After Effects and 3D for motion graphics and advertisement. Element is such a great plugin - powerful and incredibly time saving. Now I set up my 3D scenes in maya, export the objs, and render in AE with Element. It's now a matter of seconds instead of days. I just can't believe this is happening yet.
its almost unlimited what we can do with Element 3D,but when i see what you guys made! there was some awesome stuff in there!
i made this a while back, and i still like it. only at the end the forground (logo) doesnt come out the way i wanted it.
My friend and I managed to pull this together using Element 3d. The add-on is amazing. We aren't the best at 3d, but we know the basics. Element 3d makes it so much easier to do the basic stuff that we can get away with in our videos.