Getting Started with 3D for Video: Questions with Alex Dow

Going to the next level

Alex Dow - Zaxwerks Software
Alex Dow - Zaxwerks Software. Alex Dow

5. Do I need to be an expert to get started with a 3rd party application?

Heck no!  It's always good to learn After Effects first, just so you're not learning too many things at the same time. Then you can start buying plug-ins to make your life easier and give you more tools to get better paying jobs. Plug-ins may seem like an extra expense but the good ones are really money in the bank.  The Cinema 4D Lite plug-in that ships with After Effects is a good place to try your 3D chops because it's free.

  Just realize that in order to use the Lite version you have to learn the entire Cinema 4D workflow.  That's a good investment of time if you have a lot of time to invest.  But if you aren't willing to dedicate yourself to 3D then something like Zaxwerks ProAnimator is a smarter choice.  It's not free but it's made to get you up and running fast producing high quality graphics you can bill for.

6. Tell me a little bit about your 3D products.

Zaxwerks has been around for a while so we have quite a few options.  Some of our After Effects plug-ins are made to do very specific things, like create cloth and flags.  Other software are standalone 3D programs made for people who don't have After Effects or don't like it.  In between we have plug-ins for creating bent and twisted surfaces, flying serpentine shapes and of course our original plug-in 3D Invigorator which uses After Effects keyframing for all the animation.

  This is the program that lets you import any 3D model into After Effects, create text, logos and even use the After Effects 3D camera to control the animation.  The top of the line is ProAnimator which is like 3D Invigorator but it adds a special animation system that lets you do 10 times the work in a fraction of the time.

It is highly optimized, easy to make changes and a real powerhouse of a software.  It's also the easiest one to learn.

7. Can you take me through the process of taking a flat, boring title in After Effects and making it 3D using PA8?

Okay so here are the main steps for creating a 3D title with any 3D program:

        1. Type your text

        2. Extrude and bevel the text

        3. Give the text an interesting surface texture

        4. Animate your text

Those are the broad strokes of the process.  With a typical 3D program each of those broad strokes will take anywhere from a few dozen clicks to hundreds.  The crazy thing about 3D ProAnimator is that each of these steps is one or two mouse clicks.  Like if your client wants a really special bevel, ProAnimator ships with a hundred bevels built in so a single click will select one of these.  Or if you want something completely custom you can draw your own bevel and the program does the 3D modeling for you. If you're not familiar with 3D, modeling is extremely technical and takes considerable training.  So hundreds of clicks with a typical program gets reduced to a just handful with 3D ProAnimator.

The other steps are just as impressively simple.

  Change the look of your text with a single drag and drop.  Amazingly intricate animations are also a single drag and drop.  When I said this program is "highly optimized," it really is.   We looked at the animation process from every angle and made a features that speed up every step.  ProAnimator isn't just a little faster or a little easier than a regular 3D program.  It's insanely faster and amazingly easier.

8. What if I don't know how to use After Effects? Can I create a 3D title or logo using PA8 that will end up working with Premiere Pro CC 2015?

Have you ever tried to learn something and part way in you realize that your time is better spent elsewhere?

  It's not that you couldn't get it if you tried but it becomes obvious that there's just not enough upside for the amount of work you're going to have to put into it?  Don't worry you're not alone.   That's why we made the stand alone version of 3D ProAnimator.

With the ProAnimator Stand Alone you can do everything that the plug-in will do, but you don't have to be inside of After Effects to do it.  It'll render animations from web resolution up to film resolution and automatically create a perfect alpha channel for compositing the animation over your video footage without having to key out the background. This gives you the power to mix title and logo animations over ANY video footage using Premiere Pro CC 2015.