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3d Option other than C4D/Element?

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John Winthrop
3d Option other than C4D/Element?
on Jun 5, 2018 at 10:28:11 pm

I used to have element 3d and it was extremely useful, being able to implement .obj files into after effects comps. I upgraded to after effects CC which of course includes Cinema 4d, and i'm very dissappointed. As far as I can tell it doesn't actually import 3d models into your AAE comp, it just renders a 3d scene that can be implemented in AAE but only as a 2d video layer.

I want something that will allow me to import 3d objects into an after effects scene where i can rotate/move/scale them in 3 dimensions and have them interact with my camera. Element is too expensive right now, and unless i'm missing something about cinema 4d (please let me know if i am) I would really like a way to import 3d .obj files into my AAE comps.

Not to rant too much but i'm very surprised adobe desided to integrate cinema 4d rather than element, from what i can tell it's far superior.

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Steve Bentley
Re: 3d Option other than C4D/Element?
on Jun 6, 2018 at 6:29:40 am

You are correct. The link between AE and cinema is so that you can put 2d renders of 3D objects into a 2d or AE's version of a 3D scene and have those objects follow along with a camera that has come from AE or C4d. So in the end everything reacts as if the footage from C4D "feels" like its a 3d Object. But if you change something like a camera angle in AE, you have rerender the C4d file with the new camera position and replace the rendered footage in AE.

It also lets you bring objects from AE into C4D. But those objects being exported in this direction are cameras, lights, nulls and 3D planes.
Remember AE isn't a 3D program in any way. Its 3D renderer is cheating. Element manages this trick because its a 3D program on its own even though it lives inside of AE. It renders the object in 3D within its own interface and then passes each frame to AE's stage.

Yes element 3D is great way to go to keep all elements live and in the same work environment. There are a few other plug ins out there that will also accept a 3D mesh from an OBJ and have it be a live 3D object in AE - however these other plug ins (excluding E3D of course) don't have very good texturing routines (or none at all) and you get simple spherical or cubic mapping at best and simple gray shading at worst.

Once you have a pipline set up for rendering files in C4d and then using that footage inside AE it's pretty slick. While we have both full C4D and Element 3D here, I still feel, compared to E3D, I have more control inside of C4D - better navigation, a more standardized work environment (as 3D apps go), a more robust texturing system and animation control/timeline, all the attributes for each object are attached to it and you don't have to pretend that each object is a particle and edit their attributes "outside" of the program where you texture and place the objects (as you do in E3D).
If you have both C4D and AE running together, you end up just exporting cameras back and forth, then importing/replacing the rendered footage. Jumping from AE to C4D is not that different or any more handcuffing than jumping from the comp in AE to the inner interface of E3D.

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Michael Szalapski
Re: 3d Option other than C4D/Element?
on Jun 6, 2018 at 2:12:15 pm

Element is not superior to C4D.

Cinema 4D lets you have actual, real reflections instead of the faked ones in Element.
You can also do actual 3d modeling in Cinema 4D.
You can also have more than 8 lights.

As far as interactivity goes; you can set it up so that Cineware and the Cinema 4D file responds to your composition camera just like Element. You complain that the Cineware effect renders "a 3d scene that can be implemented in AAE but only as a 2d video layer", but that's also exactly how Element works. They're the same in that regard.

The benefits Element has are that it renders really, really fast (and it has some cool particle animation stuff).

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

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Steve Bentley
Re: 3d Option other than C4D/Element?
on Jun 6, 2018 at 3:51:12 pm

Good point M. I forgot about the 8 light limit. There are cheats around it but then you feel like you're adding a cheat on top of a cheat.
Of course these days (those young whippersnappers!) no one wants to light anything, they just want to hit the GI button.

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John Winthrop
Re: 3d Option other than C4D/Element?
on Jun 6, 2018 at 4:02:03 pm

Element allows for the actually 3d model to be imported into an aae scene. It can be rotated, scaled, and moved in 3 dimensions *in the after effects timeline/keyframe system*. This means I can parent it to other things, I can use expressions, its' still *part of after effects* rather than a video layer providing a window into another program. That has an enormouse advantage for so many situations.

I realize that c4d is better at actually creating models themselves, but I usually just created models in blender or maya if i needed them created, then could use e3d to import the .obj files into AAE.

From what I can tell the dynamic link between C4D and After Effects does nothing more than save you the step of rendering the C4D file and importing it into after effects, rather than having it act like a function within the same program.

If a 3rd party developer can make element 3d do what it does i don't see any reason After Effects itself couldn't somehow gain the ability to import .obj files itself. Don't get me wrong I love After Effects for a million reasons, but if they added this feature it would make my life so much easier.

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Steve Bentley
Re: 3d Option other than C4D/Element?
on Jun 6, 2018 at 4:38:14 pm

To create a better link between C4D and AE so that objects can track or influence objects in the other program, we are constantly passing nulls back and forth and then using those objects (since they are in 3D in both programs) to send positional and rotational data to other objects, or parent them in the time line or the object manager.

Personally (forgive me Andrew) I feel handcuffed by the E3D interface after using 3D apps for the last (gulp) 40 years, So I prefer the flexibility of C4D for getting my 3D just right.

That being said, Adobe has added 3D capabilities to Pshop so its possible its not far behind for AE. I realize they could make the buttons even smaller in AE next time as an upgrade "feature", but you're right, adding 3D would be a much better upgrade enticement.
(but then, I'm still waiting for a robust paint in AE - if only adobe owned a paint program they could steal from!)

As for adding obj's to AE, that's just the tip of the iceberg. They would also have to revamp the lighting system, invent a texturing system, and implement true 3D math and add 3D renderer - and that's going to slow the entire render pipeline down. In essence: create an entire 3D app.
Element3D is truly a huge achievement and spectacularly fills a gaping hole, and does a great job at a screaming pace. And I don't think the limitations are Andrew's fault; he's had to work within the frame work of what AE lets you do as third party developer.

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