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View Full Version : "Free" After Effects relighting plugin released/updated



monovich
07-10-2009, 12:35 PM
I know this isn't exactly Lightwave, but it has everythign to do with my Lightwave and After Effects compositing workflow, so I thought it may be of interest here.

Stefan Minning has updates his excellent After Effects relighting plugins and once again released them for free.99 (donations accepted via his website).

http://www.minning.de/#software/normality

If you like to composite or do a lot of 3d and haven't used these, you should check them out. The plugins allow for relighting, adding reflections, adding specular, refractions, and other cool functions (zbrush style renders) all from within After Effects via a "normals" pass from your favorite 3d package.

IbSpyDoRzoY

a few shots:

http://www.minning.de/images/content/minmatcap_apple-300x315.jpg

http://www.minning.de/images/content/normality-overview.jpg

http://www.minning.de/images/content/normality-controls.png

100% lit in AE:

http://www.minning.de/images/content/normality_example1-603x348.jpg

cheers!

-Stephen

adamredwoods
07-10-2009, 01:59 PM
nice to see this still being developed.

toby
07-10-2009, 04:46 PM
Have you used this monovich? I'm confused. It says you can bring in and render your 3d objects, but it needs a normal pass rendered? So you light a 3d object based on info from a 2d image? Funny it can do all that but it can't create it's own normal pass; I guess you'd have to worry about lining up your normal render *perfectly* with the camera in AE. And can you bring anim into AE? Or is this only for stills. Sorry for the barrage, too much coffee :rock: and this is pretty cool!

And I don't see HDR's support in the feature list, that would be a damn shame. I don't think it's technically that difficult?

monovich
07-11-2009, 12:50 AM
did you watch the video tutuorials? It should make sense after you watch that. Your questions, though well intentioned, show that you don't quite understand what is going on here.

toby
07-11-2009, 01:01 AM
I didn't see anything beyond that page, I'll look again

toby
07-11-2009, 01:07 AM
I don't think you understand what I was saying; this was confusing -
"Artists to light 3D objects and scenes directly within the familiar Adobe After Effects environment"

There are several compositing apps that can import and render 3d objects, I saw a test in Nuke that applied light to an object from an hdr, just like real-time radiosity engines do, which is done with normals. That's what I thought this might be leaning towards.

monovich
07-11-2009, 01:14 AM
this can't bring in 3d objects, it only brings in normal buffer renders from a 3d app. lightwave exports the normal buffer via the RLA export image filter.

monovich
07-11-2009, 01:15 AM
however CS4 can bring in a 3d object and light/render it on some level, although I've never used it.

jin choung
07-11-2009, 01:43 PM
yah, they're playing fast and loose with the term 3d....
it's just color + normal and then you change the light that the normals get.

cool idea but does it support material info? plastic vs metal vs wood vs velvet etc?

calilifestyle
07-11-2009, 07:40 PM
I cant seem to install it

Red_Oddity
07-12-2009, 05:50 AM
yah, they're playing fast and loose with the term 3d....
it's just color + normal and then you change the light that the normals get.

cool idea but does it support material info? plastic vs metal vs wood vs velvet etc?

Yes, but you would have known that if you had clicked the link monovich provided in the start post.

Anyway, here's more info on what the plugin can do :http://www.minning.de/software/normality-user-guide

biliousfrog
07-12-2009, 09:48 AM
I admit that I haven't looked into it properly yet but my immediate thought was, 'that looks similar to Taron's ZbornToy plugin for After Effects'. The process is different but it has some slight similarities: http://www.taronites.com/

I'll have a look at it tomorrow.

CC Rider
07-12-2009, 11:35 AM
So how do I get a normal pass out of LW?

Eagle66
07-12-2009, 11:52 AM
I admit that I haven't looked into it properly yet but my immediate thought was, 'that looks similar to Taron's ZbornToy plugin for After Effects'. The process is different but it has some slight similarities: http://www.taronites.com/

You can download Normality 3 - make a Donation of 10$ and save 169$ for ZbornToy :D

Normal Pass: http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?p=498356#post498356

See Image: http://www.newtek.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=52170&d=1194998928

Red_Oddity
07-12-2009, 02:55 PM
Zborn has the added function of creating a normal pass from a depth buffer.

jin choung
07-12-2009, 06:03 PM
it's cool but it looks like every render pass element must take on a single material and even that has to be manually re-assigned inside the plugin.

so it's cool and may potentially be useful but to make it really do what it wants to (completely re-light a scene in after effects) would require so much work (every pass being a separate lw material and then re-assigning that material the right properties back in AE) that it might not actually save any time.

jin

monovich
07-12-2009, 08:00 PM
I don't think I'd ever relight a whole scene this way, but if I've already rendered a scene, and just want to add some specular hits or reflections to a particular object, I could isolate the object with an ID pass then use this plugin to "pop" the object a little without having to go back to a potentially long 3d render.

its just and extra tool in the box, but a crafty little tool.

as for the zborn comparison, its much simpler than zborn, but its free and FASTER than zborn for what it does. zborn is a pig sometimes.

CC Rider
07-13-2009, 06:50 AM
it's cool but it looks like every render pass element must take on a single material and even that has to be manually re-assigned inside the plugin.

so it's cool and may potentially be useful but to make it really do what it wants to (completely re-light a scene in after effects) would require so much work (every pass being a separate lw material and then re-assigning that material the right properties back in AE) that it might not actually save any time.

jin

That's the impression I'm left with...at least for me, seems like an awful lot of trouble to be able to "fix it in post" for it to be useful in a normal workflow.
Neat trick though!
:D

stefanminning
07-14-2009, 05:18 AM
Cheers guys, I'm the developer of the Normality plug-in and thought I'd chime in to clear up some confusion. I come from a Maya background so I might be using non-Lightwave lingo here - feel free to correct me!


First off, Normality actually predates ZBorntoy. My plug-in was first released back in January 2006 but apparently went under most user's radar.


Now to the technical stuff!

Sorry to create some confusion surrounding the term "3D" - Normality of course does not import actual 3D models. With good reason.
You must render them as normal passes first... these render super-fast in any 3D engine and allow Normality to run as fast as it does. Much faster than any 3D renderer I've come across, of course at the price of not being full 3D.

It's a trade-off you must decide to make on a case-by-case basis - sometimes it makes total sense to use Normality and sometimes there's no point, especially if the ideal solution would involve heavy ray-tracing.


Now, Normality isn't really designed to do it, but it is quite plausible to light entire scenes in AE with it. The trick is to render out a so-called "albedo" (or ambient pass) which contains just the flat color or texture of the objects to be shaded. From there on it's simple enough to setup shading and lighting in AE with a single instance of Normality.

To simulate more than one material one could render an additional spec map or, my preferred method, render an Object ID or Material ID pass and use that to apply as many instances of Normality as you need to shade your various materials. Really no more complicated or (in)efficient than using several materials in the 3D app but with the bonus of seeing changes more or less in real-time.

We lit a couple of entire scenes (animated characters and backgrounds) in our short film A Night at the Cathedral (http://www.minning.de/portfolio/a-night-at-the-cathedral) this way and we found the process quite enjoyable. Much more interactive and intuitive than hitting "Re-render" a gazillion times and waiting for the render to finally update.

That said, it's definitely more useful as tool for fixing small lighting issues or single objects than shading entire scenes.

I hope I was able to clear up some confusion. If you have any more questions feel free to ask!

jin choung
07-14-2009, 12:16 PM
hey stefan,

great plugin. especially for it being free so thanks much for that! the holy grail seems to be cutting down the turn around times for render and you have everything from fprime (for lw), modo's fprime-like continuous render mode, v-ray rt, and of course your plugin addressing the issue.

and your idea is a very novel approach at a solution.

right, i forgot about materialIDs so it's not as tedious as i made it out to be with rendering out every material as a separate render pass.

i guess the thing that i keep thinking is too bad there's no way for after effects to just either recognize maya/lw material properties or autoassign normality according to materials and assign all relevant passes (spec, etc.).

i guess if a workflow really ended up depending on the normality lighting pass, one can script it into ae or something.

the thing that gives me the greatest pause though is for more photoreal projects and that the materials in maya/lw won't be able to be replicated in ae with a great degree of fidelity... that is, there are more things going on in the 3d apps than just specularity. of course, it won't do raytracing as you've stated and for a great many purposes, that's good and fine. i mean if pixar likes avoiding raytracing, that's good enough for me... : ) .... but still, there are other aspects of materials (not to mention kinds - such as phong, blinn, etc) that may not be well translated in ae.

anyway, the plugin is undeniably cool so thanks again and rock on.

jin

stefanminning
07-14-2009, 02:27 PM
Absolutely Jin, some things are better done in 3D. If photorealism is your thing then a post-lighting solution like Normality probably won't do much to improve your workflow.

It takes some familiarity with the plug-in to figure out what you can get away with and what is better done strictly in 3D even if it means waiting a long time.

I had in fact at one point addressed one of your concerns by providing the ability to select between Lambert, Blinn, Phong shading etc. but got rid of it quickly as most AE users aren't familiar with the terminology and would rather just dial in a spec manually.

Cheers,
Stefan

wacom
07-15-2009, 01:02 AM
Cool- I've used some of these things in other programs, but non have been quite this robust. FXnut made one for the FX tree in si, and fusion has some of these...

Still- so glad it's free- will donate for sure though.

And yes- it's always "bestest" to do things in 3D if you can...but time is a factor in many lives and this is more than usable in a number of situations.

Who ever said it was a replacement for standard 3D?

jin choung
07-15-2009, 01:09 AM
I had in fact at one point addressed one of your concerns by providing the ability to select between Lambert, Blinn, Phong shading etc. but got rid of it quickly as most AE users aren't familiar with the terminology and would rather just dial in a spec manually.


d'oh,

haha... damned if you do damned if you don't....

: )

rock on.

jin