Digieffects FreeForm is an effect that distorts 2D layers in 3D space, using displacement maps and meshes that you define, control, and animate. FreeForm is included with After Effects CS5 and CS5.5.
Toolfarm hosts a Digieffects forum, where expert users of FreeForm post tutorials and answer questions.
Chris Bobotis of Mettle Communications created FreeForm. Mettle provides free animation presets, tutorials, and examples for FreeForm on their website. The image at the top of this post was created using a template project from the FreeForm Enhancement Pack that Mettle is selling on their website. Chris gave me an early chance to play with these template projects, and I really enjoyed how easy it was to make 3D animations that look really cool, all inside of After Effects.
Eran Stern shows how to create Captain America’s shield using FreeForm in this tutorial, which includes a downloadable project file.
Toby Pitman shows how to create a lunar landscape using FreeForm in this tutorial.