I'm still pretty new when it comes to After Effects, but I'm trying to add some creativity and excellent animation to my workload. I have been working with the trials of both Nodes 2 and Plexus 2, but I am probably only harnessing around 10% of their abilities and I cannot seem to grasp what makes them different and which is better suited for the motion design and occasional 3D work I need to do.
I was hoping someone here could spell it out for me, as I'm not finding much guidance from searching online.
Kind of a neat plugin, I hadn't heard of it before now. But here is what the differences look like:
While both are able to create point clouds or containers from 3D models, primitives, and utilize noise and effectors to change how those particles react. Plexus's main selling point is that it will automatically interpolate connective lines and faces based the distances of particles. These lines are a very linear, straightforward connection. You can create beams that utilize Bezier on them, but those (if I remember correctly) don't really rely much on the distance algorithms.
Nodes appears to look more organic, with curvy lines and noise. It can do the same type of beam work, and has the added benefits of point clouds from footage. It also seems to have better text control, with the plugin actually manipulating the text within its point clouds, vs generating point clouds based on text positioning (Plexus). So if you were wanting to make the same type of look in Plexus you would have x^n amount more work. Nodes also has a projection effect that allows you to see the front face but not the back face of a 3D point cloud, (which you can flub in Plexus by using a sphere effector effecting the color or opacity and using clever compositing skills.) The carrousel effect is also a nice touch with automatic highlight of your important elements. The getting started templates are pretty sweet too. It also seems to be able to handle creating procedural geometry for each of the nodes which is nice, ie: a dot with a circle around it, with a stroked circle around that, etc. etc. etc.
So really it seems what you need it to do is the determining factor to me. Do you want it to auto interpolate the connection of lines and faces from distance or have a more structured linear look? If yes, the Plexus 2 by all means. Do you want it to look more organic with curvier lines and a few other features that Plexus 2 does not have, but sans the distance algorithm? Then Nodes 2 is worth the money.
That said, I've used Plexus 2 for a few info graphic things and its a great plugin and it appears that some of the features overlap with Node. But they have 2 similar but separate markets. Even still, I know what my next plugin on my wishlist is now.