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After Effects for the Rest of Us - Reallusion Release Cartoon Animator 4.3 with Game Changing Export Modes

Now you can add 'After Effects' to your Cartoon Animator 4.3 projects in any video application.
Now you can add 'After Effects' to your
Cartoon Animator 4.3 projects in any
video application. This blur and halftone
effect was applied in Shotcut Video Editor.
Reallusion released Cartoon Animator Update 4.3 with much fanfare about its new Adobe After Effects plugin which is a game changer all on its own. 

The ability to export a CA4 project with its layers intact into AE for additional video compositing should be a head turner for industry pros looking to take advantage of some of CA4's more unique features and reduced workflows.

For those of us not in the Adobe ecosystem (and there are a lot of you out there) Reallusion did not leave you without something to get excited about.

Also in the 4.3 update is the ability to export your project as an Object Based Sequence. Essentially this exports each element of your project to its own folder, audio included. If an object has any animation on it at all it will be exported as sequentially numbered, transparent PNG files.

This is pretty much what the AE Export plugin does but that plugin also includes much more information like animation and camera keys, z-plane spacing and more. As well the AE plugin creates a JSON script file that tells AE how to reconstruct your project in AE so it very closely matches the layer order (and Z plane) of your original CA4 project. Elegant and seamless transfer.

Object Based Sequence Export - Keep these figures handy for setting up your video application's project file.
Object Based Sequence Export - Keep
these figures handy for setting up your
video application's project file.
For the rest of us, not using AE, we're going to have to get our hands dirty (metaphorically), spending some time reconstructing our scene in our preferred video application. I'm okay with that. Not every application works the same, and it leaves the way open for third parties to develop a CA plugin for those apps that support plugins.

Armed with the settings of your CA4 project (Frame rate, and video dimensions), you can set up a project in your favorite video editor (so long as it supports multiple video and audio tracks and can stitch together image sequences) and export each object sequence into its own video or audio track. Most video editors don't usually support Z planes so you'll be reconstructing a flat video image but you'll now be able to apply video effects to individual elements within the scene.

Applying Additional Effects to my Cow's Tail Animated Short in Shotcut.
Applying Additional Blur and Halftone Effects
to my Cow's Tail Animated Short in Shotcut.
You can see each element has its own track
on the timeline across the bottom.
The most obvious effect, not achievable in CA4 is depth of field. Now you can have blurred backgrounds without having to import pre-blurred images into CA4. You'll be able to experiment with how blurry your background should be and adjust the blurriness of individual objects within a scene.

Whatever effect your video editor can apply to video, you'll now be able to apply to individual object sequences within your scene. 

Once you're done simply export your video for a final render or, since you're in your video editor anyway, add all your titles etc. first, then export your finished production.

Natron

If you want to take your CA4 video compositing to the next level, I recently discovered Natron, a free,  open source video composition tool for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Natron uses a node graph to do some very powerful video compositing on par with Adobe After Effects.

Natron - Take your video compositing to the next level.
Natron - Take your video compositing
to the next level.
I literally, only just discovered Natron the day before writing this article because the AE plugin so impressed me I started looking for AE alternatives.

Initially you'll look at Natron and, if you've never seen this kind of app before, you'll think WTF, this looks way too complicated, I don't have the time to learn this!

However, set aside a couple of hours to complete the first seven short video tutorials (each around 10-11 minutes) of this Youtube playlist and you'll have that lightbulb moment of realizing it's not as complex as it looks. Plus it's a tool you may want to add into other video projects, not just CA4 animation projects. It has plenty of applications.

I plan to do a more indepth look at Natron in a future article (I've only completed the first seven video tutorials myself as I write this), specifically how to import/reconstruct your exported CA4 Object based Sequence.

However, I'm loving Natron and I wish I'd discovered it sooner (it's been around since 2018). 

---o ---o--- o---

Hopefully you've found this article helpful and enlightening if you're like me about Adobe subscriptions being a hard no thanks. While the CA4.3 update may have been all about the AE Export plugin, it's good to see Reallusion continue to give the rest of us options beyond the Adobe ecosystem.

While Object Based Sequence Exporting doesn't quite have all the bells and whistles of the AE Export plugin it's still a massive leap forward for CA4's flexibility and workflow for the rest of us.


Related Udemy Affiliate Links


Natron - Compositing, Keying and Rotoscoping using Natron


NATRON: The FREE robust alternative to NUKE & AFTER EFFECTS

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for you insight. I also am not a fan of Adobe rentals.
    I will give this Natron a look over.
    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete

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