Create 3D animations with the Eneo3D plug-in for Motion and FCPX

Creating 3D titles in Final Cut Pro X and Motion is relatively easy, but creating complete 3D scenes is virtually impossible. Motion isn’t After Effects, but with Reelpath’s Eneo3D plug-in it comes very close to offering a one-stop solution to all your compositing needs.

I tested Eneo3D with both Motion and Final Cut Pro X (the latter with the templates that you need to install first). The first observation I made is that you need a machine that’s capable of processing and rendering full 3D scenes. It says so on their webpage and, as this truly is a complete 3D creation environment, you’d better believe it. Having said that, my basic iMac 5K model with not-so-basic 40GB of RAM had no trouble with the Eneo3D plug-in.

Eneo3D combines the Apple Native 3D SceneKit and Motion FxPlug to create a 3D Animation system within Motion and Final Cut Pro X. In Final Cut Pro X, you’re obviously not going to be creating 3D scenes from scratch as the host isn’t very suitable for that kind of thing. However, once you start using the FCPX templates that come with the plug-in, you’ll be surprised by the number of customisation parameters you’ll get through the familiar Inspector.

The Eneo3D FxPlug generates a self-contained 3D scene that is completely modeless in Motion and FCPX, meaning you can browse and audition Materials, Reflections and Light Gels directly in FCPX viewers. I played around with the controls in Final Cut Pro X and found you can create something unique fairly quickly and so far I haven’t found any other plug-in that offers the kind of power and flexibility Eneo3D delivers.

For creating something from scratch, however, I would definitely use Motion. In Motion, the Eneo3D plug-in comes across as a self-contained 3D toolkit, with its own controls for everything from lighting to camera behaviour.

And even as Eneo3D is a full 3D environment, it doesn’t force you to know the often complicated processes and procedures for making, painting and lighting 3D objects regular 3D applications expect you to master. It’s quite easy to make 3D objects from 2D vector art, import animated models, and apply animated materials and geometry modifiers. It even offers physics for collision and bounce – and have explosions, twists, bends, etc.

Without reading the user guide, I was on my way creating a title that bounced off a floor with the lot taking a quarter of an hour to get it right. That piece of work would obviously not deserve the Academy Award for best 3D animation, but with a bit of extra time and some guidance from the user guide, you’ll be able to create something worthwhile in a couple of hours and without needing a PhD.

You can actually even place a real “actor” inside a 3D scene, which is great for anything from Youtube presentations to mixed animation/real acting videos.

And if you don’t know how to create them yourself, you can import sets and props from vendors like Daz3D, Poser, TurboSquid, CGTrader, SketchFab, SketchUP, Thingiverse and others.

Also appealing is that you can paint and type on 3D objects directly. There are no complex object trees with separate shader ‘rooms’ and hard to understand object combination methods that you need to get your head around. It’s all pretty straightforward and done within the Eneo3D environment.

Still, even with all the user-friendly capabilities readily available, you can – if you really want to – make your 3D environment as complex as you want, because Eneo3D does support scripting. And you can use Apple’s Xcode for a wide range of 3D model editing capabilities including UV Surface Map assignments and export to SceneKit.

Reelpath advises to export a ProRes 4444 QT clip to stand in for the Generator instead of populating your FCPX timeline with several 3D Generators. And as Motion is the best place to access the complete range of tools, you can use Motion to export your clips to FCPX for the best workflow performance.

Eneo3D retails for $59.99.