Is there any way to use this feature realistically?
There never was. It was doomed to failure from the beginning. It was already technologically outdated when it was new, the quality sucks and of course the eternal compatibility issues even on suitable nVidia hardware...
Or is the answer to use Cinema 4D and shut up about it?
I wouldn't put it that way, but of course any 3D program will do...
The ray-traced renderer makes use of the GPU. Hugely. If it's one of the "approved" GPU's, it will render extremely quickly. The $20,000 computer, if it had a different GPU (say, from AMD or one of NVIDIA's newest cards), would have been similarly hobbled. If you put one of the "approved" GPU's in your other machines, you would notice a HUGE improvement in render times.
So, basically, it doesn't matter how much of a monster your PC or Mac is, as long as it has the right GPU, the ray-traced renderer will be significantly faster than one without.
C4D is more powerful and the integration with AE is being further developed. The ray-traced renderer is old, obsolete, and not as fully featured. Granted, there are some things you can do with it that you can't do with C4D integration yet (such as controlling certain things with expressions), but I'm sure that will change in the future. For the record, I never used the ray-traced renderer. For quick 3d stuff, there is Element or Zaxwerks 3d Invigorator. For the more powerful stuff, there's C4D now included with AE. As Mylenium said, the ray-traced renderer was outdated before it was released.
Thanks for the replies. I am an AE fan from way back in 3.1 but I have to wonder why they put in this "feature" that only will work on a tiny subset of users machines that have a specific GPU from one vendor.?
> Thanks for the replies. I am an AE fan from way back in 3.1 but I have to wonder why they put in this "feature" that only will work on a tiny subset of users machines that have a specific GPU from one vendor.?
The CPU fallback was supposed to be better than it turned out to be. And there were other prerequisites to make this work well on a larger set of GPUs that didn't work out the way that we wanted them to.
Call it a failed experiment that taught us some valuable lessons that later features are benefiting from.
Thank you, Todd. The transparency and openness of the AE team is a big part of why I love After Effects.
I definitely admire the honesty!
Maybe a warning in the Comp settings that Ray Tracing is outside the normal rendering capabilities would be a good heads up.
Too bad there isn't a way to extrude without ray tracing. Maybe some kind of fake simple shading or texting instead. (Yeah, yeah I know, go learn C4D.)
Part of the reason why I thought the ray-traced renderer was an odd thing to add to AE is that you have so many good third-party options if you want basic extrusions. Zaxwerks 3d Invigorator, Element 3d, Mettle's ShapeShifter, etc. all offer ways to get basic extrusions, distort them, and animate them. They render really quickly on the GPU without the narrow requirements of the ray-traced renderer. Seriously, the speed of them is fantastic compared to a full 3d render from C4D, Blender, Maya, etc.
I'll bet the reason they added the ray-traced renderer is that people wanted a simple way to get an extrusion that was native to AE as you're currently requesting. It wasn't a great feature, but it was (as Todd says) an interesting experiment. It was a pretty impressive achievement, to be honest. The problem is that the third party options were far superior.
Here's the thing, AE is not a 3d application; it is a compositing app (that just happens to do motion graphics really well). It's likely that, as Cinema 4D becomes more integrated into AE, it'll be easier and easier to get 3d in AE and then bridge the gap into the full 3d world if you need more powerful features.