Collada plugin for After Effects

More info here
Collada Import/Export Plugin for After Effects - Application Notes

Application Notes:

ae general prefs

The plugin uses scripts to read and write temporary files. The Allow Scripts to Write must be checked.
Edit - Preferences - General

When importing always use the file menu, not the right click menu. The right click deselects the composition and the plugin won't be able to read the selected comp's frame rate and size for matching.

Workflow Video:

This video shows basic workflow technique for working with the Collada plugin(version 1.0). The video is in wmv format, 19Mb, length 10:01

Right click either image to download the video.

tv inside truespace tv inside after effects
trueSpace 3D application and animation/render imported to After Effects

Click here for a video showing the export process for version 1.0. WMV format, 40 Mb, length 5:39

The new version 1.1x adds experimental geometry import capabilities to the plugin. It can import the mesh vertices as 3D nulls and the polygons as solid/image layers. It is meant to be used with simple rectangular shapes. The vertex nulls import to the correct positions, but the faces will likely need to be adjusted. This version also includes a more robust UI and a different method for automatically scaling the scene.

The faces are oriented by scripts. To make adjustments select the pink layers used as track mattes. Open the transform on one of them and click on the stopwatch for orientation. In the menus choose Animation > Keyframe Assistant >> Expression to keyframes and then click the stopwatch again to remove the keyframes. Now the track matte layers can be manipulated.

More details of the geometry import can be found here(click me).

3DSMAX notes:

max options

Bake 3dsmax 2010 animation keys by -> track view - controller - collapse, or motion - trajectory - collapse
free camera and free spot types recommended over targeted types
3dsmax how handle target camera(Old note maybe valid maybe not)
maybe wire connection to null, bake null motion, manual copy in ae
1. create point helper
2. pos and orient constrain to target camera
3. export z-up and bake animation options
can use track view controller collapse on free camera directly
max light cone angle animation bakes automatically with collada export
max bake on export works on skeleton with ik and maybe other controllers
max export z-up, no matrix, note sticky bug on y-up/z-up option
max y-up option requires brute force option
3dsmax import won't see camera fov unless it is animated


Lightwave collada does not export camera fov, light color and light spot angle animations.
Click here to get LScripts that help to get these animations out of Lightwave.

Lightwave(pre 10.1) bug: Collada exported aspect ratio is wrong.
Click here for After Effects Script that fixes the problem.

Lightwave v10.1 requires the brute force check. Be sure items have fairly short names. The brute force method can expand the names past the CS3 layer name limits.

There is a Python script for Lightwave v11.0 that will convert the Collada file for AECollada. It will remove the extra tags that make the brute force(many layers) option required and will add camera FOV and light properties animations to the file. Click here to get the Fix Collada python script for LW 11.

Lightwave prefers yxz rotation orders in the collada files it reads in.

Lightwave will assume yxz order in the collada files it reads if the rotation data is for only 1 axis. This is how a brute force import can be used to adjust rotation orders to Lightwave by breaking down the rotations into seperate x,y and z rotations. See this page for a video that illustrates how this can be used to bring incompatible collada rotations from Daz Studio into Lightwave.

MAYA notes:

maya options

maya 2009 bug in camera export - fix change all yfov to xfov manually in the collada file
maya bug exports visibility animation but not tied to anything
maya export set to y-up, no matrix
maya skeleton or z-up requires brute force option


truespace animation - no camera fov, no light color, no spot angle - see the Enhanced Collada Export script to add these animations to a collada file exported by truespace.
the truespace xyz rotation order matches after effects rot order
truespace bug camera fov from modelside not workspace side - see script fix above
truespace bug - spotlight angle comes from the hotspot angle which needs to manually by set to the dx spot angle before export - see script fix link above
or set model side inner cone value to equal the outer cone

XSI notes:

XSI mod tool seems to require all rotations so is incompatible with the include zero value rotations export option.

June 9, 2010