Melbourne and London-based animation company Jumbla has debuted a new four-minute cinematic sequence built almost entirely using the Element 3D plugin on Adobe After Effects.
The high-adrenaline, video-game-style piece, titled ‘Valley of the Kith’, was completed by one designer working across just 10 weeks, while three additional designers assisted with asset modelling for two weeks each.
Instead of creating all the assets in external applications, the team only needed to build the ships elsewhere using 3D Studio. From there, all the primary work was done with Adobe After Effects and Element 3D, with characters created using Adobe Fuse and animated using Mixamo.
Jumbla creative director Cal Woolcock said the project was designed to show gaming and entertainment companies the finely-detailed, design-driven work the studio can produce, using innovative methods to tell stories.
“Traditionally, to complete a work like this, you would need to pass the assets from one specialist to another through a long pipeline,” he said.
“It’s slow, laborious and expensive. Renders often have to happen over a long period of time, and you can’t see the finished product as you go. Using the techniques we applied to ‘Valley of the Kith’, we’ve eliminated the pipeline.
“Renders in After Effects can be seen instantaneously. That means we can work on things collaboratively and concurrently. There’s no rigid workflow, fewer hands on deck are needed, there’s less backtracking, and problems can be solved on the spot.”
Woolcook said that given the project was primarily the work of just one set of hands, such a cinematic sequence could be feasibly executed in even less time.
Furthermore, he insists there’s a gap in the market for high-calibre 3D animation produced in non-traditional ways.
“It’s unfortunate that many clients perceive 3D to be a big, scary world that might be inaccessible to them,” Woolcook said.
“Using Element 3D within After Effects opens a lot of doors. We hope this piece demonstrates that following this lower-cost path doesn’t mean you’re compromising on quality or viewer experience.”
Jumbla recently applied the techniques to cinematic sequences for the Microsoft video game Forza Motorsport, turning around 12 videos in three months. It also produced four cinematics for real-time strategy game Grey Goo.
While Jumbla has been experimenting with pushing the boundaries of this animation method, the technology in this domain has by no means plateaued, according to Woolcook.
“It’s exciting to think about how extensively we’ve managed to apply this technique as it stands, but it’s even more exciting to think that this is all only in its infancy,” he said.
“Given how powerful Element 3D is, surprisingly few people are using it. There’s a lot more room for it to grow, and we see it playing a bigger role in video games, entertainment and motion graphics in the future.