By Brady Betzel
For the past year, part of my morning “post production news gathering ritual” has been visiting AOTG, postPerspective and motion graphic designer John Dickinson’s Motionworks. Not long ago I saw that Dickinson (@Motionworks) had released a new set of presets and tools to be used with VideoCoPilot’s Element 3D inside of Adobe After Effects. It’s called MovieType for Element 3D.
I love Element 3D, so the idea of having more presets and tools to use made me happy. It has the ability to use near-realtime rendering to create stunning 3D objects like extruded text in seconds and without the need to jump into Cinema 4D. It’s a huge time saver for me when editing, especially when a client wants a “movie-type” title treatment but doesn’t have the time or money to outsource to a full motion graphics team.
There are some requirements your system will have to meet in order to take advantage of MovieType for Element 3D. You will need After Effects CS6 or above and VideoCoPilot’s Element3D 1.6.2 or above. If you are looking to buy Element3D and use MovieType presets, check out https://www.videocopilot.net/products/element, specifically the “Supported GPU list” at the bottom. If your video card isn’t listed it’s time to upgrade! May I suggest the new GeForce GTX Titan Z or the Nvidia Quadro K6000? Seriously, check out the list, you need a decent graphics card to run Element 3D properly.
What This All Means
The Motionwork’s team, along with Dickinson’s co-developer, Brett Morris, have taken their MovieType presets for Maxon Cinema 4D and ported it over to After Effects. MovieType is a collection of 150 bevel presets (think different bevels and textures for your Element3D text — premade), 450 material presets, 35 backgrounds that even have bump maps for 3D environments, 60 camera move presets and 64 compositions with camera rigs, lighting rigs and text presets already configured. In addition, you get MoBacks, a collection of 56 After Effects backgrounds (http://motionworks.net/shop/mobacks), as well as six well-produced tutorials by John Dickinson who, by the way, makes great tutorials for other companies too, such as Adobe and Boris FX.
Before diving under the hood of MovieType, you need to know that this is not a traditional plug-in, like Boris or Red Giant Universe. MovieType is comprised of many pieces that need to be imported into After Effects or used through Element 3D. If you are somewhat comfortable with After Effects and using Element3D you shouldn’t have a problem using MovieType, especially with the tutorial videos that come bundled with the product. If you need a quick primer on Element3D make sure you check the video tutorials on www.videocopilot.net; you will be up and running in no time.
When you download the over 2GB worth of content there are 10 folders neatly organized, which makes me happy; I am definitely a sucker for clean and neat organization. First, you should copy all of the contents to a back-up drive just in case something happens. You will need to watch the “Intro & Installation” video, since you need to install some scripts that allow the MovieType camera presets to work correctly. Second, you can jump down to the “Galleries” folder, which contain HD QuickTimes and high-resolution JPEG images with samples of the camera movements, bevel presets and more. You can quickly identify what you want to use and what you don’t. From here you should probably just jump right in and start playing around in After Effects.
This is where MovieType gets a little clunky, mostly because of the way After Effects handles presets and not because of the way MovieType was created. In order to use the camera presets, type presets or pre-built compositions you need to import those comps into the project you are working in. This can get a little cumbersome if you want to try a bunch of different camera orbits or pans. So like VinhSon Nguyen (@creativedojo) from CreativeDojo suggests, one option is to import all of the example files directly into After Effects to stay inside of the same program and view the examples. Another way is to find the MovieType folder and jump into the Galleries folder where you can see all of your options.
If you are comfortable enough to use Element3D you probably have some experience building your own camera rigs, lighting rigs and possibly your own backgrounds. So while the MovieType preset camera moves and type moves are nice to have in a pinch, or if a client wants to see a bunch of different camera movements on the same title treatment within a few minutes, most people will really want to buy MovieType for its vast amount of materials and bevels…. at least that is what got me intrigued. The included camera and text movements do have some interesting orbits, pans and text tumbles that might be good building blocks for your final composition, but I would suggest you either modify Motionworks presets or, better yet, create your own to ensure your content is original.
Element 3D comes with a few stock bevel presets and materials, and if you purchased the Video CoPilot Pro Shaders library you pretty much saw all the prebuilt materials worth using… until now thanks to MovieType. So MovieType is a very welcome addition to my Element 3D bag of presets and materials tricks. It adds over 450 material presets, some of which are just alternate colors or different specular settings of the same material, but still handy nonetheless.
There are also 150 bevel presets: different set-ups of the materials that are included with MovieType. While you could feasibly build these yourself with the included materials, these are really great starting points when designing type treatments. The bevel presets give you instant access to dozens of different color, bevel and texture combinations that would take a lot of time to create and perfect.
Finally, there is the “Full Compositions” folder, which contains 64 pre-built compositions complete with camera, lighting, backgrounds and a text treatment. You can preview them in the “Galleries” folder. They might be a good place to start so you can see what the possibilities are. The full compositions are more of an inspirational tool to me, kind of like how Art of the Title is. MovieType does allow us to go one step further though and use and adjust their settings, which is fun.
In the end, I would buy MovieType solely for the materials and bevel presets, but the camera movements and type movements are a nice bonus. Keep in mind this is not a beginners tool; it’s not drag and drop like a traditional plug-in. However, if you are a beginner, learning how Element 3D and MotionType works will definitely help advance your After Effects skill set.
Since the release of VideoCoPilot’s Pro Shader library, I really haven’t seen such a complete set of Element 3D bevel presets and materials. So, if you are an editor who dabbles in Element3D and wants to have a large grab bag of text presets and materials at your disposal for $89, MovieType will give you dynamic looking titles in a matter of minutes. If you are using the new Adobe CC 2014 Live Text feature in After Effects and Premiere you should try and set up a LiveText Template with Element3D and MovieType that can be adjusted in Premiere. It could be a huge time saver.
Brady Betzel is an editor at Bunim Murray Productions, a reality television production company. He is one of the editors on Bad Girls Club. His typical tools at work are Avid Symphony, Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe Photoshop CC. You can email Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.