Never. Raytrace 3D is dead.
Because it was crappy. Because there is a newer, much more powerful option for 3d in AE now.
Sorry...but this is a really misleading reply! If you want a REAL solution with all the problems given from the 2.5 workflow in AE, well Element 3D is the right choice.Some old fashion mattes with position and you can go with a great compromise and a FAST,FAST,FAST workflow. If you want a slow damned as hell, crappy, buggy, unresponsive, irritant workflow, than you can go with Cineware...or if you use C4D, use all of your talent and patience doing renders,passes and buffers from there. For me Cineware is a really no go (24cores and 64GB of ram doesn't helps anyway, at least for me...). Maybe some tweaks to much more relevant issues in AE, such as audio playback or 2.5D architecture would be glad...but people want new toys to play with in their office...
Just my two cents.
I wouldn't say it's misleading.
The Cineware workflow should be improved with the next update to AE (later today, hopefully) and it should be significantly better when the next major version of AE comes out with the new rendering architecture so it wouldn't hurt to start learning how to use it. It's also a great bridge into becoming familiar with real three-dimensional software.
Yes, right now Cineware isn't perfect, but it is useable! C4D Lite is more powerful than the ray-traced renderer or Element (for most things) and (importantly) is free with AE.
Element is fantastic and renders quickly. And it can do some things that Cineware can't - the particle and animation engine in Element is great (and sorely underused). Other good third-party options include Mettle's ShapeShifter (you can do some fantastic things with that that would be difficult even in a full-fledged 3d package) and Zaxwerks 3d Invigorator (the first really good 3d plugin for AE and still a good choice).
When I say using C4D Lite is more powerful, I mean it has more tools and you can do more things with it. Element, ShapeShifter, and 3d Invigorator all render faster.
Yes, on paper it will be a kickass feature. Unfortunately it is not. I don't want to be too picky, but we have to work fast everyday, and from my test i work faster with C4D and all the renders made from there, and not from Cineware. Cinema 4D lite is good to do some tasks, but you can model only in a certain way, you can't use dynamics, you can't use all the great mograph stuff. Yes it's free, but if you want to do some extruded text + use obj sequences or do something impressive in a really short amount of time, i think that Element and its ridicoulous price (i'm talking about only the plug) is a much better investiment for time and productivity. Cinema 4D isn't too much expensive, i've bought the studio verion with a financing program. Waht i mean is this: if you have to work everyday and respect deadlines, i prefer to trust in better and tested workflows, instead of testing and send bug reports to feature that can really change my life...but in a negative way!
Sorry for the OT, all testers out there are doing a really great job to improve AE, but at the same time i'm seeing that Adobe is not listening to old users requests about stability and reliability, giving us confetti that most people never use in their job.
I agree with your workflow suggestions. I use the full version of C4D all the time. I actually use it more than AE lately. I also have Element (and the other plugins I mentioned). If you're looking for fast, they're insanely quick for the results you're getting. I am still surprised by what I can get out of Element sometimes.
I was just answering the OP on why the ray-traced renderer is gone. "That thing was poopy!" didn't seem sufficient.
Yes, i agree. And i i'm a bit upset because third party software houses are doing what Adobe can have done in all this time. Shapeshifter is super cool, Element and Invigorator too. After years Adobe have not been able to offer this kind of performance to users. They are not perfect as a 3D render with GI from Cinema,Maya,3D Studio or Hudini, but they works great for everyday job and if users spend time learning them, in some cases you can't note the difference!
Hope that Adobe with the new release will do a step forward in terms of reliability.
Now, back to work!