[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!