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!
[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!
I’m excited to say that there will indeed be relighting functionality built into the Point Cloud plugin. Still in Beta, I’m happy to show off a little bit of what this relighting capability can do for your workflow! I’m still looking for a couple of beta testers who are serious and will be committed to helping me bring this plugin to release. In particular, I’m looking for Windows CS4 and CS5 After Effects users who use 3DSM and/or Maya and will be able to help me provide animated examples of relighting 3D renders in an After Effects workflow. You should be familiar enough to provide a workflow for generating position as well as normal passes. Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.