Product Review: Red Giant Trapcode Mir

Fractal 3D Motion Design in OpenGL
Jeff Foster
By Jeff Foster 08.28.12

Trapcode Mir from Red Giant is a new 3D shape creating tool that works inside After Effects and utilizes OpenGL rendering for speed and efficiency. Mir allows you to transform a simple polygon mesh with fractal noise distortion, texture mapping, displacement and repeating geometry to create interesting motion graphics and animations. Integration with After Effects' 3D lights, you can make smoothly shaded objects, landscapes, organic textures and elements and glowing nebulae.

How Mir Works

Mir is an effect that you apply to a solid layer in After Effects and uses a scaleable 3D mesh with a Perlin noise fractal for distortion and displacement. The mesh can be bent in both X & Y axis while the scale and amplitude of the Fractal will generate distortions like crumpled paper, cloth or mountainous terrain. There are numerous controls for varying complexity and distortions of the mesh, affects of the Fractal noise pattern and options for materials, textures, shaders and visibility (fog). You can apply surface maps to your mesh to create unique landscapes or textured objects/elements.

Trapcode Mir allows you to make interesting 3D shapes, terrains and animated objects

The best examples of what Mir can do will be found on the Red Giant website. This video by Mir developer Peder Norrby shows you a quick overview of the various options in Mir. Red Giant's Aharon Rabinowitz gives a cool high-tech overview of amplitude mapping in this tutorial video.

Trapcode Mir also ships with 18 presets by Red Giant guru, Harry Frank to help get you up and running quickly. There is also a community of Red Giant users where you can share and exchange presets and projects at Red Giant People.

Manipulating the Mesh

Using Mir's Geometry and Fractal controls, you can manipulate the shape of your object subtly or drastically and animate it on the Timeline. To speed up production you can reduce the number of polygons in the mesh to create your animation and then go back and increase the polygon count to smooth out before rendering the final piece. You can select a Density Phong, Flat Shader or make the wireframe visible or view as points or a mix of flat shading with polygon wireframe. Mir uses the 3D lights in After Effects - unlimited Ambient lights and up to 8 point lights. Spot lights will be treated like point lights inside of Mir.

There are numerous controls of the mesh in Mir

However, since Mir does generate the 3D object in the Effects Control panel, it does not create a 3D element that interacts directly in 3D space with other 3D layers in After Effects. This means your Mir mesh won't cast shadows or interact in volumetric 3D space with other 3D text, shapes or layers, nor will it render with the Raytracing capabilities in After Effects CS6.

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