September 11th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

DarkCorner quickly and interactively computes Ambient Occlusion for a given image or an image sequence and depth (Z) information, using the power of your GPU. The depth channel can be supplied within image formats like .rla or .rpf, or as a separate image sequence.

Having Ambient Occlusion computed in After Effects with DarkCorner, as opposed to using your preferred 3D modeling software, has several advantages.

DarkCorner uses your GPU to compute AO several orders of magnitude more quickly than software renderers usually employed by 3D modeling software.

Since it is much faster to compute AO, you can simply adjust parameters in real-time, which not only saves you time, but also gives you quite a lot of flexibility. For example, with DarkCorner, it is relatively easy and quick to use different AO parameters for different sections of your composition, making it easy for you to achieve a desired look.

And on top of all this, it’s easier to manage your 3D scenes as you have less passes to worry about.

Actually, many effects that are usually applied during compositing can also be applied as part of 3D rendering of the scene. However, many artists prefer application of Depth-of-field, UV mapping and MotionBlur (and other effects) as part of final compositing, due to advantages like those outlined above. And now, DarkCorner adds Ambient Occlusion to this list.

DarkCorner requires high-quality, high-precision depth images to compute AO. Since 8 bits of depth precision is not enough, DarkCorner does not support image formats such as .png or .tga for inputting depth. You will need at least .rla, .rpf or .exr for the depth channel, preferably at 32-bits (float) precision.

In a nutshell, DarkCorner gives you a lot of speed and flexibility, but you do not have to take our word for it, you can download DarkCorner and decide for yourself.

Currently, DarkCorner is available as a plug-in for After Effects CS4, CS5, CS5.5, CS6 under Windows and for After Effects CS5, CS5.5, CS6 under Mac OSX Lion.

(Price : $74.90)

                            “Having control over how much AO, color, contrast, render speed….is just killer.”

                                                                                                                                              Eric Latek, Phantazma Pictures

for downloading evaluation copy, please visit download page



You can find some sample videos below.

We have listened to our users and ported DarkCorner to OSX.


Here is another sample scene under OSX.


Let’s have DarkCorner compute Ambient Occlusion for a scene


using external depth data with DarkCorner


Using DarkCorner with Autodesk Maya’s output


Using DarkCorner with LightWave 3D output


DarkCorner RC1 Demo


DarkCorner Parameters

The radius of the circular area around each pixel in which occluding surfaces are searched. Increasing this value will allow more distant surfaces to occlude each other, and vice versa. Specified in scene units, the value of this settingalso depends on the scale parameter (see below).
The number of separate directions along which occluding surfaces are searched. Increasing this value will result in smoother AO, but it also will increase computation time. You are advised to try and find a balance between quality and performance for your input scene.
The number of steps to take along each direction. The radius parameter is divided by this number to determine the size of the steps to take. Therefore, a larger Radius will usually require a higher Steps setting for smoother results. Increasing this number will also result in an increase in computation time.
Angle Bias
The minimum angle two surfaces need to make for DarkCorner to consider them occluding each other.
Defines the overall scale of the input scene. Mainly acts as a divisor for the radius to make it easy to enter small numbers. For example, if you enter 4 for Radius and 100 for scale, the actual radius will be 0.04.
DarkCorner: Scale Parameter
Multiply is the main mode of operation. AO Only simply displays the AO computed, without the input scene. Colored is similar to Multiply, but instead of darkening occluded regions, DarkCorner interpolates them towards a chosen color, for interesting effects. Depth and Normalsmodes are simply convenience functions provided to easily display the respective channels.
The color to use in Color mode (see above).
Depth Layer
Depth layer to use in case the input sequence does not contain an embedded Depth channel.
Depth Type
Some renderers (like Maya) output transformed Z values. This parameter lets you choose the transformation, based on the renderer you are using.
Use Normals
If your input data includes normals in an appropriate format, enabling this option will result in a quality improvement.
Normals Layer
Normals layer to use in case the input sequence does not contain an embedded Normals channel, and the Use Normals option is enabled (see above).
A falloff-like parameter that determines how the AO effect changes as the distance between occluding surfaces changes within the specified radius.
The minimum depth difference between two surfaces so that DarkCorner will consider them apart. Especially important for the Blur operation (see below) so that unrelated surfaces will not be blurred together.
Blur Enable
Applying a bit of Gaussian Blur on the computed AO results will generally result in smoother apperance and hide some of the artifacts caused by poor quality input data.
Blur Filter Size
Controls the Blur distance (specified in pixels).
Line Removal
Some renderers output poor quality depth data which causes incorrect AO to be generated along polygon edges. This option enables a special filter designed to remove these lines. For best results, use with Blur enabled.
Half Resolution
Causes AO to be computed in half-resolution. This will increase performance for a small loss in quality and may eliminate some artifacts due to poor depth data output by some renderers.
Aperture Width, Focal Length
These are the camera parameters used to render your input scene. It is very important to set these correctly as incorrect values will cause computed AO to be wrong.


for downloading evaluation copy, please visit download page

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