Rowbyte Captures Motion Magic in a Bottle in Plexus 3.0 Plugin for After Effects CC
‘Plexus Head’ Abstract Design by Timothy Montgomery
Plugin developers for Adobe’s After Effects CC (AE) have been making incredible tools that bridge the gap between the 2D and 3D. Examples of this include Video Copilot’s hugely popular Element 3D and Red Giant’s Trapcode Particular. Another big player in the 2D/3D AE world is Rowbyte’s Plexus.
Plexus, now on version 3.0, is a pseudo-particle that uses an ‘input-output/effects layering’ technique to build up a connected network of effects that is fully 3D-aware within the host AE program. It is a fairly unique approach to design in AE, but it may feel very similar to Maxon’s Cinema4D’s Mograph. The on-screen results are a gorgeous low-poly abstract look that is highly animatable.
The nature of the effect is to connect up the various pieces of the effect, and then through those connections, you build intricacies and movement. The power of particle ‘Grouping’ is available within the effect and there is even a unique Plexus panel which helps organize the connects.
An example of the “Effects Layering” workflow and the Plexus Object Panel together.
Plexus at first glance seems fairly complex. But one of my favorite things to do with it is a very simple. You can use primitives or load an OBJ file in AE, drop the OBJ in the comp and add Plexus to a new solid in the comp. Then do the following:
- Click Add Geometry and add a Primitive or an OBJ from your favorite 3rd party application.
- Click Add Effector and add a Noise Effector and set ‘Noise Amplitude’ to 150.
- Click Add Renderer and add a Facets Renderer, check ‘Limit Opacity by Distance’. Make sure the facets color is set to something other than the background color so the renderer shows up on-screen.
Breaking up a Cube Primitive. Each step represents a different amount of Positional Noise.
That’s it! You continue to layer in Effectors and Renderers as needed. Add new OBJ at any time and start animating any of the available parameters. The deep nature of Plexus can yield a very high level of complex animation with very little effort from the artist. I have also found that working in the plugin does not necessarily feel like working in AE. It is very much an app within an app.
Otoy’s Octane Render for Cinema 4D Plugin has taken over the motion graphics platform produced by Maxon. It is a mature and stable pipeline for rendering that has been optimized for speed and realism in ways never before seen in Cinema 4D. Even though Octane is several years old now, they’ve continued to expand their features. This has helped it reach a maturity level as a plugin that some other 3rd Party Rendering Software have yet to attain.
A view of the Cinema 4D GUI while working with Octane’s Live Viewer.
I have been using Octane for Cinema 4D for the past 6 months on two different platforms and it has been a champ with just about anything I throw at it. My two systems couldn’t be more different, System 1 is a mobile laptop and System 2 is my professional workstation. In VFX, there’s a lot of options out there for hardware and software. Stability should always be at the top of your priority list and Octane has it covered.
System 1 is a Acer Nitro laptop with a Nivdia GeForce 945m GPU with a 2.5 Ghz Intel i7 and 8Gb of RAM
System 2 is a Apexx 4 7901 Boxx Workstation with a 3.4 Ghz Dual-Xeon, a single Quadro M5000 and 128 Gb of RAM with a networked slave system running 2x 1080 Titan Black .
While crashes have occurred, they have been predictable and fixable in almost every case. However, the vast majority of the time Octane just works.
My other favorite thing about Octane are some of the features they have built right in. VDB volume support, Jawset’s Turbulence FD rendering, and the Scatter Object are just a few of the amazing and revolutionary tools that are built right in, stable and beautiful to render. The Material Node Editor is a fantastic execution of the node-based workflow type and it works seamlessly with Cinema 4D’s normal material editor. The Live DB materials database is loaded with hyper-realistic materials ready right out of the box as well. I cannot wait to see what is coming in the feature from Octane for Cinema 4D feature set.
Rendering a TFD Volume in Octane using the Object Tag’s VDB settings.
As a Visual Effects artist working in the feature films and broadcast world, I have spent much time on the web researching tools and tactics. Thanks to the efforts of many talented folks who took the time to share knowledge, ramble on about our industry, and generally spread the word about VFX and Post Production, I have discovered so much.
I hope to make this site a place of inspiration like so many online resources have been for me. My goal is to share my ideas and techniques and share some of my work with anyone who might be interested. Maybe a spark will fire out there somewhere and maybe not. But I intend to have fun trying.
3-2-1 Blastoff!!! The beginning has started. Welcome to the site.