I am interested in creating motion graphics that involve 2D and 3D components which are coordinated to one another, as in this example, which is likely made in Processing. Another example of what I am after is science fiction interfaces, which often involve paired 2D and 3D elements. I assume that these interfaces are usually composited in After Effects, but I am curious if other software exists, as After Effects does not seem to be very effective at coordinating between 2D and 3D elements (e.g., making a 2D element move in relation to a 3D one).

I can achieve this using WebGL and JavaScript libraries like three.js as well.

These programming libraries require that I code 3D graphics manually, which is less efficient than using software like TouchDesigner, which can achieve similar 3D effects but without 2D elements, as far as I know.

In short, what software exists for developing coordinated 2D and 3D motion graphics? If a particular program does not have this capability, what software workflows might support it?

  • For which purpose is this? is the end product a video, computer presentation, an interactive art installation...? Different purposes will require different software solutions, but the most complex applications seem to be answered by your own links. In the 00's people used to fake 3D components with Flash...
    – Luciano
    Nov 12 '19 at 14:43
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    The first was probably not done in processing. Some game engine perhaps. All 3D applications are capable of 2D. Also may have been done in after effects or any other comp app like nuke or fusion. But then might have been done in the 3D app too.
    – joojaa
    Nov 12 '19 at 19:14

It is a bit broad about what you want. Probably more specific than a real-time render engine is a game engine. So my first choice would be Unreal Engine and Unity. I would think about a 2D interface as simply a 3D object fixed in space in a relationship with the camera.

After-effects has little to do with this. The main goal is to produce a video unless you just want to simulate the environment and not interact with it

You have to differentiate "Motion Graphics" with interactive elements. Motion graphics is a video, yes you could have some interaction, but an interactive Multimedia element is a different story. How do you plan to interact with it? It can be as I said a 3D game, or augmented reality or VR or a projection, and that needs a bit more elements that just Motion Graphics.

(Interesting links btw)

  • Thank you. I should specify that what is most important for me is for the 3D elements to be dynamic, irrespective of whether the output is interactive or static. This indeed rules out After Effects. Your answer makes me think that I should stick with what I know, like three.js, since this allows for dynamic 3D elements and easily converting 3D to 2D space. I just hoped there would be some software out there kind of made for this purpose, as if Cinema 4D would have 2D/3D functionality, etc. Nov 12 '19 at 21:27
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    Ah I just figured out how to do this in a Cinema 4D + After Effects workflow: Layer Stalker youtube.com/watch?v=nXcOxqyBL8o&feature=emb_title Nov 12 '19 at 22:12

This looks like something done in either a specifically tailored astronomical engine or in a general purpose game engine - if I were building this, I'd do it in the Unity game engine.

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