The Connections of Plexus –

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:


  1. Click Add Geometry and add a Primitive or an OBJ from your favorite 3rd party application.
  2. Click Add Effector and add a Noise Effector and set ‘Noise Amplitude’ to 150.
  3. 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.



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