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Lightning Fast Animation in Element 3D

Book Description

Whatever your skill level, this is a brilliant tour round the multi-faceted features of Element 3D, the Adobe After Effects plugin. Its hands-on approach means you’ll soon be at home with creating awesome 3D graphics in record time.

In Detail

Element 3D is a plugin for Adobe After Effects, used to create basic, yet stunning 3D visual effects. Some may find 3D to be tricky and downright complex. Element 3D allows actual 3D models to be created from scratch or exported to Adobe After Effects, and rendered and composited at a high level of quality and impressive speed.

This practical guide will lift the veil of mystery around 3D animation. It will teach you everything from modeling, preparing, and exporting from various 3D programs to match-motion, texturing, and complex animations using Element 3D.

This book is a comprehensive guide to using Element 3D and is appropriate for users of all levels. It will walk you through the basics of modeling objects for Element 3D. Then, you’ll learn how to texture, light, and animate as well as optimize your scenes for quick render times.

You will discover some of the limits of Element 3D, and learn how to break through those barriers to create virtually any 3D scene imaginable. You will also learn how to take advantage of other 3D programs such as Maya and Blender to create content and create stunning abstract scenes in relatively no time, and how to composite 3D animation into motion-tracked live action scenes.

By the time you complete this book, you will have all the information you need to effectively create professional 3D graphics using Element 3D.

What You Will Learn

  • Model objects using an external 3D program, and export them to Element 3D
  • Optimize your 3D scenes for quicker render times
  • Use samples, polygon counts, and machine specifications to optimize your render times and performance
  • Apply techniques to overcome the limitations of Element 3D such as group limitations, lack of ray tracing, and no physics system
  • Exploit Element 3D by using advanced techniques such as match-motion and object arrays, to create stunning visual results
  • Create textures for Element 3D using external programs such as Gimp and Photoshop

Downloading the example code for this book. You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at http://www.PacktPub.com. If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www.PacktPub.com/support and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Lightning Fast Animation in Element 3D
    1. Table of Contents
    2. Lightning Fast Animation in Element 3D
    3. Credits
    4. About the Author
    5. Acknowledgment
    6. About the Reviewers
    7. www.PacktPub.com
      1. Support files, eBooks, discount offers and more
        1. Why Subscribe?
        2. Free Access for Packt account holders
    8. Preface
      1. What this book covers
      2. What you need for this book
      3. Who this book is for
      4. Conventions
      5. Reader feedback
      6. Customer support
        1. Downloading the example project files and colored images
        2. Errata
        3. Piracy
        4. Questions
    9. 1. Introduction to the Element 3D Animation
      1. Welcome to the world of 3D animation using Element 3D
      2. Assumptions about the reader
      3. What is 3D?
      4. What is Element 3D really?
      5. Summary
    10. 2. Welcome to Element 3D
      1. The machine specifications
        1. The PC configurations
        2. Software
      2. Introduction to the interface
        1. Tour of the interface
          1. The Model Browser window
          2. The Edit window
          3. The Material and Bevel Browser window
          4. The Preview window
          5. The Scene window
          6. Toolbar (top)
      3. Modeling versus animating
      4. Setting up your first project in Element 3D
        1. Staying organized
        2. Directory structure
      5. Summary
    11. 3. Your First Objects
      1. Primitive modeling
        1. Booleans (cutting and molding tools)
          1. Differences between Boolean operations
            1. Boolean add
            2. Boolean subtract
            3. Boolean union
            4. Boolean difference
          2. The shaker top
            1. Making holes in the shaker top
      2. Object arrays (duplicating objects in a pattern)
      3. Finalizing your salt shaker
      4. Point modeling (the table and wine bottle)
        1. The wine bottle
        2. Do it again (the table)
      5. Box modeling (the lamp)
        1. Subdivs, metanurbs, and curved shapes
        2. The Polygon proxy mode
        3. Extruding and editing
        4. Freezing subdivs to polygons
      6. Incorporating multiple methods (the completed lamp)
      7. Summary
    12. 4. Painting Your Geometry (Textures)
      1. Digital paint
      2. Exporting your objects to Element 3D
        1. Lamp shades
          1. What are UVs?
          2. Assign your materials
        2. Exporting your objects
        3. The wine bottle
      3. Shading in Element 3D
        1. Import the lamp
        2. Fixing and texturing the lampshades
          1. Transparency map workaround
          2. Specularity
          3. Reflections and refractions
          4. Illumination and ambient occlusion
        3. Bump maps and using AEX layers for texture maps
        4. Preset shaders
      4. Summary
    13. 5. Preparing Your Scene
      1. Element scenes in After Effects
      2. Saving your objects
      3. Preparing our scene
        1. Setting up the lamp
          1. Replicating the bulbs
            1. Positioning and replicating an object
        2. Lighting the lamp
        3. Adding the table and wine bottle
        4. Finishing the initial setup
          1. Faking shadows
          2. Light falloff
        5. The shakers
          1. Mask it off
        6. Final touches
          1. Adding a camera and controls
          2. Controlling objects with null objects
      4. Summary
    14. 6. Animating Your Geometry
      1. Let's simulate an earthquake!
        1. Animating with nulls
          1. Keyframing the lamp
          2. Realism in animation
      2. Summary
    15. 7. Particle Replicator
      1. Dancing iPhones
        1. Replicating the iPhone
        2. Animating to the beat
        3. Creating a video screen
        4. Moving them around
          1. Advanced animating ("morphing")
          2. Repeat the process
            1. Method for keeping the order
            2. Method for reversing the order
        5. Rinse and repeat
      2. Making the background cooler
        1. Having the background react to audio
      3. Summary
    16. 8. Optimizing Performance
      1. What affects render times?
        1. Your system needs to run… fast!
        2. Polygon counts/points
        3. Appropriate image map size
        4. Samples and how they affect render times
        5. Particle array count
      2. Summary
    17. 9. Some Other Techniques
      1. Flying text/logos
        1. 3D text extrusions
        2. Flying logos
      2. The possibilities of live footage, world position mattes, and compositing
        1. World position mattes
      3. Summary
    18. A. Final Thoughts
      1. Using the right tool for the right job
      2. Some predictions
      3. Anything more to learn?
      4. Additional resources
      5. Final message from the author
    19. Index