Well first of all apologies for the tardy upkeep of this blog. The posts are becoming quite rare lately. I’ve been incredibly busy on some really exciting projects and had no time to eat sleep or post on helloluxx. Let’s hope I can remedy this as soon as possible. I’ve got lots of new ideas for tutorials and tips that I expect you’re all keen to see.
I recently had the privilege of beta testing the latest incarnation of Trapcode Form 2. This is a fantastic upgrade and well worth looking into if you are an After Effects user. The biggest new feature for me is that Form now allows you to import OBJ models. If you use a 3D program that means you can bring your models into After Effects and then use the mesh to place particles. Of course all of this is already possible (probably) within your 3D application, but the joy of working with Form 2 is that it offers a much faster feedback. You have real time results (well almost, depends on how quick your machine is!?). We all know that rendering in After Effects is generally a hell of a lot quicker than rendering from a 3D application.
I always thought of Trapcode Form as a similar beast to MoGraph in Cinema4D. Especially similar to using the Shader Effector. You can create layer maps and use those to control all sorts of aspects of your particles. So the luminance or colour of a layer can be used to control the postion, orientation, scale, displacement, colour, etc of your Form particles.
In fact Form is the perfect partner for your Cinema4D animations. Using the C4D to AE export, you can export your camera move to After Effects. Export the obj too and use that with Form. So the camera will match your 3D render, you can use Form to add new elements on top. Think of the possibilities! Imagine you have a landscape that you need to populate with trees. You can export a mesh of the landscape and the camera move, then add the trees in post. Use random particle sampling to have a variety of trees, you could even have the trees animated too. Of course this is a boring and simple example, but the possibilities are endless.
If you work with animations then Form 2 offers a feature which allows you to import obj sequences. This is an incredibly awesome new feature. Not only can you import an obj sequence, you can also adjust the speed of the playback and also animate the offset parameter to retime the sequence. So this makes it easy to create basic speed ramps and bullet time effects right within After Effects.
The obj is referenced in After Effects just as any other footage is, so you can update the 3D files and then refresh or relink to another version with a couple of clicks.
For those of you out there working with Cinema4D who are looking to invest in the Form upgrade, I’d recommend taking a look at Riptide Pro. To be honest the native obj import and export with Cinema4D is about as basic as it gets. However Riptide Pro is a fully featured obj import and export plugin. It works great. This will allow you to export your animations as obj sequences, which can then be loaded into AE and used with Form. I’m sure you can imagine how useful this can be. Not only can you export the camera from C4D to AE for matching your cameras, but you can export animated mesh too. Total freedom to add loads more particle effects right onto your models.
Anyway, enough already. If you want to read all about the full feature set of Trapcode Form then head on over to Red Giant Software. You can download a demo and try it out for yourself. If you are using C4D, then the Riptide Pro plugin can be downloaded and tried for 30 days with no restrictions, although beware … once you’ve tasted this sweet concoction, there’s no going back.
Oh, and there’s also an old Form tutorial on helloluxx if you are new to the plugin and want some pointers.