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Video Copilot releases Element 3D V2

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Originally posted on 7 October. Scroll down for updates.

Video Copilot has unveiled Element 3D V2, a major update to its GPU-accelerated tool for rendering 3D models and animations within After Effects: one that brings the plugin closer to being a complete 3D toolset within AE.

Viewport options like those of a 3D package
The most obvious of these changes is that the viewport looks and works much more like that of a 3D package, with a drop-down to switch between orthographic views and a gizmo to manipulate objects.

The update also adds standard 3D viewport display options, like bounding boxes and a background grid, and the option to switch to draft textures or hide shadows or AO when working with complex models.

Manipulate or animate sub-objects individually
There are also more options for manipulating imported geometry. Alt-dragging duplicates a model, and objects may be grouped to create hierarchies of sub-objects, each of which may be manipulated independently.

There is also a new Auxiliary Animation option, which enables different sub-objects to be animated on separate animation channels: used in the demo video above to create simple animation rigs for vehicles.

Faster rendering, support for PBR
As you might expect, the render engine itself has also been updated, with Video Copilot claiming that a typical scene renders roughly twice as fast in Element 3D V2 as in V1.6.

The renderer also now supports both subsurface scattering and physically based shaders, with a set of controls that will be familiar to anyone with modern games tools like Substance Designer or Marmoset Toolbag.

There are also now options for raytraced shadows and ambient occlusion, both of which are GPU-accelerated using OpenCL; or real-time shadow mapping where a faster-rendering solution is needed.

Fast fake reflections
Similarly, there is a new Reflect Mode for fast-rendering fake reflections.

The Mirror Surface setting fakes reflections in flat surfaces; the Spherical setting effectively creates a fake spherical reflection map, sampling all of the 3D geometry inside a sphere centred on the reflecting object

If you skip to around 11:00 in the video above, you can see the tool in action to generate custom highlights on a car by moving a lightbox object connected to a null around in the scene.

Finally, there is a new matte shadow object used to fake shadows cast from a rendered 3D object onto the background objects in video footage.

The Mystery Feature in Element 3D V2’s interface, not discussed in the demo video, but revealed in passing midway through. Click on the screenshot to see it at full size.

New particle options, new import formats – and bonus mystery features?
Other new features include the option to scale particles independently on the X, Y and Z axes, and the option to import HDR images in HDR or EXR format.

There are also clearly a few surprises being saved for the official release, if the ‘Mystery Feature’ glimpsed in the interface midway through the video is anything to go by.

Updated 3 December: Element 3D V2 is now shipping for After Effects CS5 and above on Windows 7+ and Mac OS X 10.7+. A full licence costs $199.95, and you can find additional upgrade offers on the product webpage.

Read more about Element 3D V2 on the Video Copilot blog
(No formal features list yet, but you can see some more details in the comments thread)

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7 responses to “Video Copilot releases Element 3D V2”

  1. Servius said:

    Just a point about Element 3D V2 for all legally paid and owned Element 3D Members. This is the comment I put up for moderation on Video Co-Pilot. Moderation would not allow it on their site (Andrew Kramer does not it seems like freedom of speech or criticism from his customers (without customers Andrew you would have little)). So here is what I stated: ‘Don’t get me wrong looks cool but I think it is a bit of a con. Element 3D was promised to be with free updates. So how do you get around that? Oh yeah you call it Element 3D Version 2 and expect us now to pay for the (reduced price admitted) cheek of you video copilot breaking your promise. Whether you have put a lot of work into it or not and re-hauled the plugin or not, it is still Element 3D of which we were promised free updates. Very sad Video Copilot have broke their legal commitment and promise not to charge for updates. In the end it is an update no matter how big. Now many here will not agree or are too afraid to say this but I am not. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Will I pay for it? Of course I will. But I will feel I have been ripped off as an existing customer who has been lied to. Element 3D owner!’

    6:24 am on Saturday, November 1, 2014

  2. Landon Parks said:

    People are not entitled to get things free. Chances are, the upgrade option was for sub-versions, not new versions. I’m sure if you read the license agreement, that much would be in there. FEW software companies give you unlimited, free upgrades on all future versions of their program. Usually it will be limited to the next version, or any sub-versions such as 1.1, 1.2, etc – but not 1.0 to 2.0.

    Bottom line: You have agreed to the fine print, rather you meant to (or read it) or not. Not saying that is case here, but I’ll give you a 90% certainty that is the case.

    on top of that: WHY ARE YOU COMPLAINING? It’s a $150 program that does most of what a $5,000 program will do – but much faster. All the work they put into it, I’d gladly pay $150 for it. It’s worth 10x that.

    And no, I’m not ashamed of myself, nor should I be. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but that does not mean their opinion is the law – and anyone who feels different should be ‘ashammed’ for it.

    5:14 am on Thursday, November 13, 2014

  3. Dude, said:

    Servius, you’re a juvinile idiot.

    3:12 pm on Tuesday, December 2, 2014

  4. David Pethick said:

    Servius, YOU ARE UNBELIEVABLE. I own it and knew about free updates but would never have expected that included new versions. Go think about what your saying and compare it to standard upgrades with all other software. You just called the guy a con man, a promise breaker, a contract breaker. a man that rips people off and a man against freedom of speech. A man who should hang his head in shame. Take a look at yourself. For me its £69….£69!!! I just can’t get over what good value it is and how much they are giving us for virtually nothing. I have used it on pro projects and am making money from it with great results. Plus great tutorials and advice for free. Yours is probably the most cynical and just plain stupid comment I have seen for a long time. Sorry but that’s the truth. I don’t normally comment on negative posts but yours is just so bad I had to.

    5:57 am on Wednesday, December 3, 2014

  5. Dave said:

    Technically you *do* get free updates. But upGRADES cost. There is a difference.

    3:58 am on Thursday, December 4, 2014

  6. Adriano said:

    Does it handle OBJ sequences? cached Animated meshes?

    6:01 am on Thursday, December 4, 2014

  7. Sarvesh Arya said:

    rightly said …there is no match for Andrew..

    7:04 am on Thursday, December 4, 2014

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