Pixel Cloud version 1.0 has updated its installer for After Effects CC. The plugin itself is the same between CS6 and CC actually. However, since the file path conventions are different because it is “CC” and not “CS6″ the installer was updated to accommodate this. You can download the new version from AEScripts.
In related news, I am currently working on version 2.0 of Pixel Cloud and will be happy show off what’s new with this update! Version 2.0 will be a free update for version 1.0 owners! A new tutorial video is in the works as well as some new scripts and other goodies. At some point in the near future these updates will be coming quick so stay tuned!
The Duplicate with Connections script has been updated and be downloaded at AEScripts + AEplugins. This update adds an option to use the property index instead of the property name. This can be useful in which multiple properties may have the same name and therefore can confuse the expressions engine. I understand this could be of help with those of you using expressions in Element.
In other news, I have to apologize for the lack of communication for a while. It’s been a busy few months at work and with a new baby at home! But I’ve got a video tutorial I am working on and an update for the Pixel Cloud plugin as well as a brand new plugin on the horizon!
The Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects is a powerful compositing tool that allows you to relight a 3D generated image, make 3D aware selections or displace the pixels in 3D space. Combine the use of a Position Pass and a Normal Pass with the power of After Effects’ 3D lights and cameras and change the lighting of your composited 3D graphics. This native plugin for After Effects can use the coordinate information from a Position Pass or depth map to generate a Pixel Cloud in 3D space. This Pixel Cloud can be viewed from all angles using AE’s own cameras. With a Normal Pass, the Pixel Cloud can be relit using After Effects’ own lights or using an image as an Image Based Light. There are a number of uses from 3D compositing to motion graphics! Find it at AEScripts.com!
Relighting with 32-bit passes
Use AE Lights and Cameras
Image Based Lighting
Alpha Lights for matte generation
Support for falloff in CS5.5 and above
Pixel Cloud generation with 8bpc to 32bpc
Lo-res Preview modes
Generating the position pass can be done in various 3D software packages. In Cinema 4D you may use the PointPosition C4D from AEScripts.com. There is also a tutorial for doing this here: http://youtu.be/yfoT7bxbBwo
For Maya, you may use the Point World output of a samplerInfo node connected to a surface shader and render an EXR using mental ray and the 32-bit framebuffer. There are also a variety of tutorials available.
For 3DS Max, you may add the XYZ Generator shader to the surface slot of a mental ray material. Set it’s Coordinate System to 3 and render to an EXR using the floating point framebuffer.
The Pixel Cloud plugin effect for After Effects has several nifty features including the ability to relight a 3D rendered scene using separate passes. With this feature, you can drastically change the light source, direction of light and mood of a scene as well as the specularity and reflections in an image. Here is a demo/tutorial of how this can be achieved in After Effects with the Pixel Cloud plugin!
The upcoming Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects can be used to relight a source image affecting the diffuse and specular properties. Coming soon I’ll be posting a revealing demo of how easy it is to take a static image from a 3D package and use Pixel Cloud and After Effects’ own 3D lights to create a dynamic and believable composite with moving lights, shadows, and reflections. Here’s an end product of what it will look like!
One of the nifty features in the upcoming Pixel Cloud plugin for After Effects is the ability to use After Effects own 3D lights to “relight” the alpha of an image according to its depth/position information. This can be done using an additional position pass or height map pass. Here is a quick little demo of how this can be achieved!
Pixel Cloud has a robust set of relighting tools. These include relighting tools for diffuse, specularity, reflections and the ability to relight the “Alpha” of a 3D displaced image using After Effects own lights. In Pixel Cloud we can specify lights that only affect the alpha channel of an image. Since the image is a 3D displaced Pixel Cloud, this means we can easily separate parts of an image according to their depth information. This is a powerful tool and a normal map isn’t a prerequisite, meaning you can relight non-CG generated images like photos and video. The video isn’t up yet but as a taste here is a preview of what the upcoming demo/tutorial will show how we can utilize this tool to relight the alpha of Jack, our cute little dog from the previous demo!
I just received my Lytro and have been having a blast taking photos with it. It’s absolutely brilliant. If you’re unfamiliar with this camera, it allows you to focus the picture after it’s already been taken. The move from in-camera to in-post is certainly being lead by technology and economics. My Pixel Cloud plugin is also trying to bring more of those capabilities into After Effects. Just look at the Microsoft Kinect and how innovative pioneers are using its ranging features to recreate environments from recorded point clouds. And Samsung has developed a sensor that not only records RGB but Depth pixels as well! These are amazing innovations for effects artists.
Imagine a future where we can record whole rooms as animated environments. Think 3D scanners that scan whole rooms at one time and at 24fps. We could completely eliminate conventional camera motion control and create everything in-post. We could change the lighting setups, create digital camera rigs all after the video has already been shot. Not as CG but as recorded pixels in 3D space; An accurate representation of reality that we can manipulate to our choosing. This opens up possibilities for interactive story-telling, not to mention subjective 3D stereography. I could imagine a dozen more uses.
This isn’t just virtual reality but recreated reality, “Recreality.”
[CORRECTION] Although we use the term depth map, the correct term for usage should be height map. The main difference being that a height map denotes distance from a flat surface and a depth map denotes distance from the camera.
I’ve shown how we can use a CG render and a Position Pass in After Effects to animate and relight a 3D displaced Pixel Cloud. But not all 3D programs can produce a Position Pass and photographic sources obviously do not come with specialized passes. Pixel Cloud can still get around these limitations.
Although not yet released, this demo/tutorial gives a quick look at how simple it is to use the Pixel Cloud plugin to create a realistic camera animation with a simple photograph. Pixel Cloud can use not only Position Passes but Depth Map passes as well within an 8-bpc project.
So keep an eye out for more updates on how close we are getting to release Pixel Cloud!
After a brief hiatus from postings, we’ll soon be coming back with a demo/tutorial on how to use the upcoming Pixel Cloud plugin to animate a photograph using depth maps and 3D displacement! It really is an amazing difference from just using flat 3D layers to simulate parallax. We’ll also be coming out with a couple of new tutorials with integrating this with a camera projection workflow as well as tips on how to get the most out your composites!