Andrew Kramer unveiled new features coming in the long-awaited Video Copilot Element 3D V2, which is compatible with AE CS5+ and promised for November release.
The new version is compatible with AE CS5 and above. It has a faster, reworked Open CL render engine, basic primitives, enhanced previews, better selections and a grouping gizmo, real-time physical-based shaders, subsurface scattering, fast-rendering fake reflections, shadows, better render accuracy, and much more. Like a “Mystery Feature in the Group section” (displacement and/or blending modes).
Andrew says that he'll follow up with additional details. Also, some new image formats like EXR and HDR are planned as a free 2.1 feature; pricing info should be available soon.
◊ Element 3D is an After Effects plug-in that lets you import and animate 3D models, even as a particle array, and extrude text and mask shapes in real time. It's useful for all of us, for newbies and old hands & for straight 3D and more abstract experimentation, at least if you have a more recent OpenGL graphics card. Some basics on this tool can be found in Element 3D: new After Effects plug-in and MovieType For Element 3D: new for After Effects.
E3D v2 is Compatible with AE CS5 +above.
Dorian Heller of AE Seattle has some additional observations.
UPDATE: There's new info on Video Copilot; here's an excerpt:
What graphics card do I need for the GPU Accelerated Ray Trace Shadows and Ambient Occlusion?
Both Nvidia and AMD (ATI) Graphics cards that supports OpenCL will allow you to use the Ray Traced features in Element 3D V2. Most cards from the last 4 years support OpenCL and you can take a look at this page for more information.
Of course, the Ray Trace features are not required to use Element 3D since you can always use Shadow Maps and Screen-Space Ambient Occlusion for most cases. Shadow maps will always be faster than Ray-Tracing but when you need that extra accuracy, it’s available!