If you thought the new 3D capabilities in Adobe After Effects CS6 were impressive, you haven't seen anything yet. Andrew Kramer of Video Copilot just released the Element 3D Plug-in for After Effects CS3 through CS6 on both Windows and OSX. It's a 3D object based particle array system with a fast Open GL render engine, and a simple yet powerful animation engine. Check out these demo videos to see Element 3D in action:
What I really like about this plug-in (aside from the cool features and all the possibilities they suggest), is its wide range of compatibility. Since it doesn't utilize CUDA cores, you can run Element 3D on either Nvidia or ATI cards (Nvidia Geforce 8800 and newer and ATI 3870 and newer). And for those of us using older versions of After Effects it adds a lot of functionality --including features akin to those found in After Effects CS6-- such as text and mask shape extrusion and environment map based reflections.
Element 3D itself will run you $150. For an extra $50 you can also get the Pro Shaders Pack, or for another $100 you can get the Pro Shaders Pack and the Motion Design Pack. And for those of you who want to the whole shebang, for $500 you can get all of the aforementioned goodies plus model packs for food, projectile weapons, sports, money, and sound & music.