Element 3D First Impressions & Animation Experiment

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So I just got my hands on Video Copilot’s new Element 3D plugin and it’s simply amazing! Render times are extremely fast, objects are very customizable, and the plugin has a lot of undiscovered potential. Check out this quick 5 second render I did using Element. It’s fairly simple, but after today, expect some more advanced stuff as I’m still trying to figure this plugin out a little.


Here are some of my first few impressions of Element:

  • Again, it’s extremely fast for what it does. Even with a crappy GPU, you should still be able to handle some pretty decently sized projects. Reflections, refractions, depth of field, motion blur, and bevels render flawlessly. This is a CS6 Ray Tracing killer. (even though Element doesn’t have full ray tracing capabilities)
  • Listen to Andrew when he says to update your graphics card. A lot of people are having crash and render issues because of this. As for me, some complex materials cause my AE to crash. Some stuff like Ambient Occlusion freezes my whole computer, making it useless for me. This is probably an issue on my end, but something to look out for.
  • The layout and organization of Element is a bit confusing and somewhat out of place in my opinion. (Probably because of all the rich features in the plugin). The actual Element UI is clean and easy, but the effects controls are a bit cluttered due to all the drop down menus. It’s going to take a little to get used to all the toggling and navigating through the submenus, etc. Pressing “U” to reveal all keyframes/parameters may seem confusing too as it doesn’t break them into Groups. Stay organized.

Again, these are all just my personal first impressions. Most of the issues are probably due to my end and I’m sure in future updates everything will be even better. Note that I do believe this plugin is completely mind blowing and that it’s definitely worth the price 2x. It’s fast and easy to create awesome looking stuff in a few seconds and I’d highly recommend it! Stay tuned for more upcoming stuff with Element. If you guys have any questions, let me know!

  • Elementos

    The AO freeze is not only with you, I have a fairly new macbook pro (summer ’11) and it just freezes up the entire computer. It’s a great plugin, but they should have mentioned you need a really really good graphic card, they said 256MB will be slow, but it will work, not, on a mac pro 1,1, 10GB ram, it just won’t load element (graphic card 256MB)… just saying

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      Hey Elementos, glad to hear I’m not the only one! I know what you mean, I tried using the AO with an iMac that is running a GPU 1GB and it’s still freezing up my whole machine. Very unfortunate that it’s crashing AE on my MacBook Pro 2012 (GPU 512MB) too!

      • http://www.hartmandashboard.com Peter Hartman

        Hey Vinhson, thanks for the article. I appreciate it! I’m having AO crashing/freezing troubles too. From what I can tell, Mac’s can’t handle ambient occlusion.

        I’m on a Macbook Air and, though I can use every setting in 3D Element, using AO freezes my system just as you’ve described. Only supported graphics cards can use 3D Element without issue. I’m guessing Mac graphics cards are not.

        If you ever find out how to fix that, I’d be glad to know.

        Thanks again!

        • VinhSon Nguyen

          Hey Peter,

          Yes, AO does pose huge problems for Mac laptops, but it is because of the integrated Intel GPU. There are Mac cards such as some ATI/Quadro cards that fully support AO, so it’s not a Mac graphic thing. To fix my issue, I simply moved Element to my main build with a GTX670. I was actually testing Element on my MacBook Pro (Ivy Bridge integrated GPU) in this post, so you’re going to need a non-Intel card for it to function normally.

          I’m surprised a MacBook Air could handle Element’s load. I’ve talked to Video Copilot’s support and they have no plans on supporting Intel cards just because they’re a huge mess. So I’d suggest moving to a dedicated GPU on a Mac or PC.

  • John Nguyen

    Does the AO problem still exist with the new update?

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      For me, yes it does. Same with the AE crashing issues.

  • Ken

    VinhSon, I love your site. I check almost everyday for new stuff. But just wondering do you have a dream job or something and able to play around and create whatever you like for $$

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      Hey Ken, that’s awesome to hear that you check the site almost daily! I try to add stuff every day so thanks for the support! Nope, I’m still a student trying to major in dentistry. All the mograph/vfx stuff is just a passionate hobby :)

      • Sinan

        I dont know which one you more like to do but you should be a VFX artist :)

      • Ken

        Ahh awesome, well goodluck with your dentistry degree! and so glad you take your freetime to show your creations and tips/tricks to help others!

  • Jacques

    Hi i have a dell studio 1558,
    I use awry plugin and never get a problem but it seems to crash only with element 3d?
    it crash after i enter my LC key.
    My laptop seems to work perfect i tryed updating my drivers and etc but it still happens.
    Is in the element 3d “bug” or my laptop? is there a update version that can fix it?

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      I’m feeling you Jacques, unfortunately if your PC doesn’t matter as much. It depends on your graphics card since the plugin is running OpenGL. If your graphics card isn’t on the Supported List then expect to have some issues. If it is on the supported list and you’re still receiving crashes, contact the support team! So far, there has only been one update to Element and it didn’t solve any of my issues.

  • Jacques

    hi thanks for the replay.
    i got it working by updating my driver through ATI website,

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      Glad to hear you resolved the issue :)

  • mike price

    VinhSon,

    I love your stuff. I’m an old guy (43) and started on this “new” career about 5 years ago. Love to see young guys like you get so good at this stuff. Wish I started earlier. Your tutorials really inspire me. Keep up the good work, I will be visiting often!!!

    Thanks!

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      Hey Mike, thanks so much for the kind and supportive words! I will continue to try my best and produce quality stuff :)

  • brainsgonedead2000

    Just tried this plugin, love Andrew Kramers site but this is not for me. I just feel that 3DS Max or Maya or similar will be better as you can do so much more. But for opportunists which I am not I expect this will be perfect for them. But yes I agree that the rendering speed is second to none, I bet Mr Kramer could make a few bucks if he sold his secret. Still keep up the good work Video CoPilot, we need you! :)

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      Definitely does not replace 3DS Max or Maya, I only use this thing to create fast 3D text :)

  • Oliver Ledoux

    I have the same problem as well, my whole system freezes as I try to use ambient occlusion.
    I fact I’m thinking about getting the 14 days money back as it’s very important for me to have great shadows.
    I use a Mac Mini, Processor 2 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB, Intel HD Graphics 3000 512 MB.

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      The reason is because of the Intel HD 3000, it’s such a crummy card. :/

  • Roadcrew

    i have
    core 2 duo 2.4 ghz
    n vidia 9500 GT 1 gb
    3 gb ddr3

    when i start the element plugin the AE crashes… and sometimes if lucky it prompts to enter license, and when i put the license it says invalid… plzzz some one help…. i’ve got a project to do… any sugessetion??? from the pros out here…

    • VinhSon Nguyen

      Contact Video Copilot Support, they’re very kind and awesome at helping customers with issues like these. Your GPU should be able to handle Element just fine though.