|I've been using After Effects ever since it went by the name of CoSA. It's the most liberating software that I've ever used and makes sitting in front of a computer for hours on end a joy. Its one drawback (and it's a big one), is that it doesn't allow you to create true 3D objects in its 3D space - it is after all, a 21/2D program. That is, until Zaxwerks Invigorator came along. This powerful little plug-in finally allowed you to create three-dimensional logos within After Effects and fly them around the screen. The program was pretty logical and if you already knew how to animate in After Effects, you'd be able to animate Invigorator objects. Finally I was able create true 3D objects from within After Effects. Later versions of After Effects allowed you to use After Effects' 3D camera to move about both my AE scene and Invigorator objects.
Zaxwerks Invigorator is the perfect solution for someone not versed in the 3D world. And Zaxwerks Invigorator Training (Volume 1) by Serge Hamad is the perfect solution to get up to speed using this plug-in. It's a must for anyone starting out, and I must say, equally a must for those experienced users looking to take their work to the next level. (it's called the Creative Cow Master Series because Serge Hamad is truly a master when it comes to Zaxwerks Invigorator). Serge's DVD contains almost 3 hours of training covering every aspect of Invigorator. He covers it all - from correctly creating a logo in Illustrator to mapping, materials, creating custom edges, to animating and lighting.
As I said, the DVD is a must for the beginner. Though, it's best to have a good working knowledge of After Effects, beginners will be pretty much up to speed after the first very first 48 minute lesson. For fifty bucks you'll save yourself considerable trial & error... And frustration. Where I think most people think of using Invigorator as a way to fly logos around the screen, this powerful plug-in actually does much more than that. In his second lesson Serge explores this by creating a photo realistic iPod that rivals anything created on higher-end 3D programs. He shows many tricks & techniques that he's obviously honed over the years. In the third & fourth lessons he creates an animating Ninja Star. Here he really explains and demonstrates the importance of creating the artwork correctly in Illustrator first. He then imports the file, adds various textures (many of which he builds within After Effects), bump maps and then animates the star. He clears up many 'gotcha's that you would encounter along the way. He really goes in-depth on how Invigorator maps images - Especially to complex edges. He's even created a colored checkered map which I find myself using all the time to get a correct map (thanks Serge, I don't know how I lived without it). Lesson five deals with avoiding 'spikes' which is a common problem for invigorator when using existing clipart or logos sent from clients. He shows a streamlined procedure to recreate or hone existing Illustrator artwork. This alone will save you many hours of frustration.
The final lesson shows you how Invigorator deals with Illustrator lines that are used as Custom Edges to create 3D objects. At first blush Invigorator seems like a modeler that simply extrudes flat Illustrator artwork. But that's not always the case. Invigorator is capable of creating various complex objects if you know how to build them in illustrator. Serge explains this in great detail and even creates the quintessential 3D lathe object - The wine glass. Zaxwerks Invigorator is truly great plug-in, but it's not without its idiosyncrasies or limitations (some due to After Effects' API). Serge uncovers these and brilliantly solves many which are not covered in the manual (to be fair though, as manuals go, Invigorator's is a pretty good one).
The DVD comes with all supporting files for each tutorial so that you can work alongside the lessons.
The only thing I was disappointed in was the rather mundane looking cover art. When I first got the DVD I thought the lessons would be very basic because of the lone image that was represented on the cover. I think Serge could display more impressive examples of his work on the cover (Serge has done some really incredible work), to entice the intermediate user. I also thought that he delved into using Expressions a bit too early (lesson 1) and that it might scare some beginners away. I think I would have used them towards the end in the more advanced section.
This DVD has been touted as a learning tool for beginners, and it certainly will get beginners up to speed after even the first lesson. But I see this also as a 'must have' for the intermediate and advanced user. Serge takes Invigorator way past flying chrome logos. Hey, I think I know Invigorator pretty darned well. I had been waiting for a plug-in like this ever since about After Effects 3.0. I was probably first in line as soon as it was released. I even demoed Invigorator at their NAB booth a few years back... And I learned stuff from this DVD. I give it 5 COWs. I'm sure you will too.
Zaxwerks Invigorator Training by Serge Hamad
The Fusion of Adobe After Effects and Zaxwerks Invigorator, Vol. 1
The industry's first complete training for Zaxwerks Invigorator, the leading plug-in for 3D model creation inside Adobe After Effects. Even if you've got no 3D modeling experience whatsoever, you'll see how easy it can be, and how great it can look.