Speeding up your 3D workflow with Element 3D

by Danyl Bosomworth

Speeding up your 3D workflow with Element 3D

When working for an agency that deals with fast-paced clients in an ever evolving industry, creating beautiful 3D content can be a challenge. 3D workflows are largely linear affairs consisting of a lot of experimenting, fine tuning and of course rendering. With tight time frames and deadlines approaching fast finding new tools to increase your productivity can prove invaluable when 2D just won’t do.


Thats where Element 3D comes in. This plugin for Adobe After effects created by the talented team over at Video Copilot.net allows you to work with 3D models and textures nativly in After Effects! No need for alternative 3D software as there is a large library of built-in models and textures that are sure to be useful in a number of situations.

It’s important to remember that this plugin won’t help you create your 3D models any faster but what it does do is give you the flexibility to modify and change your scenes with minimal frustration in much less time. This is all because of its ability to render your assets in real time…inside After Effects!

So simply create your assets then throw them into After effects with a camera and you’re off. Element automatically recognises multiple parts of a single 3D object so you can animate each with precise control.

Here are three quick reason why I would recommend Element 3D.

1: Real time visualisation.

image by – http://www.videocopilot.net

Using its advanced open GL renderer, Element gives you the ability to view and modify your 3D models and textures in real-time. This allows you to create beautiful 3D renders in the fraction of the time it would take to render in traditional 3D programs. In fact, Element works at “compositing speed” allowing you to make changes with virtually no interruption. The only difference between Element’s renderer and a traditional 3D raytraced renderer is that objects inside Element won’t reflect other objects in the scene. Though the reflection mapping that is supported is a great substitute for creating realistic looking renders.

Element gives you the ability to view your model and textures in the scene and make serious changes to it such as swapping the material, adding more lights, animating the camera as well as completely changing how the object animates all without the intense re-rendering of traditional 3D Software.

It’s all very clever and the results can be amazing. Incorporating elements such as ambient occlusion, particle replicators, reflection mapping, UV Mapping, 3D motion blur great lighting presets and a huge amount of flexibility you are able to create just about any look you desire.

 2: Animation methods


image by – http://www.videofxtool.com

Element uses a unique particle array system that can distribute 3D objects into any shape, allowing you to create visually impressive scenes with minimal work. By using the replicator function you are able to duplicate your 3D object into a number of shapes all dictated by the model you choose. You can also take advantage of its intelligent particle control system, which gives you the precise controls needed to create anything ranging from a product breakdown to a fragmented explosion.

The animation engine provides a more advanced method for animating your 3D assets. It works by interpolating the parameters of one model to another. This sounds simple but when these parameters start to stack up the results become more and more interesting. It’s basically a powerful tool to get some amazing looking mistakes. At least it is when I use it…

3: VideoCopilot Family.


image by – http://www.videocopilot.net

Whilst element in its own right is an amazing bit of plugin, its success and popularity comes from its creators and their continued work with the community. Constantly releasing additional content and patches that enrich the plugin further, it’s the tutorials created by the extremely talented Andrew Kramer that really show off just how much fun element can be.

The possibilities of Element 3D are only limited by your imagination. So experiment and explore and you will always find something new. If you’re a designer using after effects you will definitely find use for this tool so it’s a fantastic plugin to add to your digital toolbox.