2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 21, 2014 12:25 PM by dissidently

    From 3D apps to AE for 2D & 2.5D Motion Graphics...???

    dissidently Level 2

      A word of warning for those of you coming from mainstream 3D apps to AE under the misconception that it's the default and best choice for 2D motion graphics.


      AE is a compositing app onto which some functionality for doing rudimentary animation has been added, but it's all tacked on, and it feels that way. And there's great big holes in its capabilities as an animation creativity space.


      Most of its user base and adherents aren't even aware of its limitations in comparison to the features and functionality of 3D apps. Consequently they will automatically rebuke any negatively phrased questions about AE's abilities and immediately suggest trite work-arounds that fail to consider the deeper potential relationships inherent to entities created within 3D apps.


      After Effects is not good at 2D animation in the ways that you're familiar with it being possible, at all. It's arguably not even really suited to 2D Motion Graphics, that folks coming to it without ever having used 3D apps are playing within a constrained space and should be deeply congratulated for the way they've worked around its inherent limitations to create what they have.


      You're better off hightailing it back to your favourite 3D app and figuring out how to make a flat lighting rig, and materials and models in an ideal orthographic camera setup... far better than fighting with the inabilities of After Effects.


      After Effects was fundamentally designed as a compositing tool for video, and has become the default choice for motion graphics "artists" who know no better. They're using more work-arounds, fudges and trickery than you could ever imagine necessary to get their desired results... when they stray outside of what AE can do "natively".


      Their trickery is that most of them stay within the lines, so to speak, and make some incredible works in which we of the 3D realm don't necessarily instantly see how they've artificially constrained their creativity to the limitations of the tool they're using. But, given enough time, you'll start to bump into those limitations and constraints within AE, and begin to feel that irrepressible urge to bang your head against a wall because you'll initially make the same mistake I did... which is to think that you're failing to find how to do something, not that it can't be done in AE with the kinds of connectivity you're accustomed to.


      But, more often than not, those things that you've come to rely on in 3D apps for consistency, accuracy and legitimate relationship management between entities in your projects, they simply don't exist in AE's way of thinking.


      If you have a choice, use 3D apps to do 2D. And thank me later.


      AE could be a great product for Motion Graphics, but it first needs to consider the humble Vertex to be a first class citizen. Consider that it's not, and you're at the first part of avoiding AE and running back to those 3D hills.

        • 1. Re: From 3D apps to AE for 2D & 2.5D Motion Graphics...???
          Szalam Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          As a heavy C4D user, I would disagree with this gentleman's (or gentlewoman's) characterization of After Effects. After Effects has a very different way of working, yes. There are things that are better done in a 3d program (like C4D), yes.


          However, After Effects is a very powerful tool for motion graphics and, once you learn how to work with it, you can do things that you can't do in 3d software. (Or would take a really long time to do.) The key here is that you have to learn to work with it. Just like when you start out learning 3d, it takes a while - the same is true here. It's a very different way of working. But so is Photoshop compared to Cinema 4d. They are very different tools with very different ways of working.


          For example, glitch effects. You can't do those in 3d software.


          Or try this exercise:

          Type some text in AE

          Create a solid with the Fractal Noise effect applied

          Precompose this solid (making sure you choose to move all attributes into the precomp)

          Turn visibility for this layer off

          On your text layer, apply the Compound Blur effect and the Displacement Map effect

          For both effects choose your Fractal Noise precomp as the map to use

          Animate up the displacement values and the blur values


          Learn how to use each program and then use each program for what it was designed to do and you'll have a great time.

          Don't take the time to learn it, and be frustrated.

          • 2. Re: From 3D apps to AE for 2D & 2.5D Motion Graphics...???
            dissidently Level 2

            What you've just described can be done better in 3ds Max with its shaders, with vastly more control, and (literally) an entire other dimension. And planes within planes.


            Shaders are more powerful than anything in AE's effects library, and then some. Things like Compound Blur and Displacement Mapping are simple components of simple shaders, as is Fractal Noise.


            There were tutorials way back in the early 90's about how to do this sort of thing in 3ds Max. Drop your text as a texture on a plane, and start having fun.


            Even realtime apps like Unreal Engine can do what you've just described... in 3D, and make jittery landscapes as a result, for all sorts of trippy stuff.


            Textures on a plane in 3ds Max (or Maya) provide you with the rudimentary functionality of AE, and then some. And then some more.


            There's much to learn about shaders, always, for all of us as it grows as both art and science.