Time flies, Cs5 seems yesterday, as does R14, but to get some data, I have the feeling to have to dig very deep. Lots of weird stuff on the web as usual, so I made my own tests.
The Adobe manual is not really a big help either. On page 164 of the Cs5 manual it gives some “ideas”. Well, it seems to be clear that the Collada [dae] and the object [obj] format should work.
The question you have is not answered really in any source that I found.
I’m with Donovan, I have nearly no experience with imported 3D-objects in Ae Cs5. Honestly, if feels like going from a 3D powerhouse to a “I can do no a little bit 3D” app. Interactivity might be the reason, but the disadvantages stick out more to me. Anyway, I had to say it, to get it out of the way, sorry about that :o) You will have of course your ideas why it makes sense to you, and I respect that. Hence I invested some time to answer. I wanted more to point out why I do it differently and doesn’t show up as “he has no idea about”. Well let’s change that. ;o)
So, I started R14.035 and Adobe Cs5. There I hit the next problem to answer here, I never saw a reason to update to Cs5.5 (it was if I recall it correctly mostly based on stabilization, which I can’t use, as I like mostly to 3D track footage, and stabilized footage is “dead meat” for me: I waited to Cs6. I used for this exploration of course Photoshop Cs5, just a guess on my side, as it seems the best fit for Cs5 pipelines.
Finally, here we go: I took a Cube, placed a texture on it in r14, and exported it as Collada1.4 (1.5 might work, but try for yourself). I did not used triangulation during export, even if it itched me in my fingers to do so. However, I would recommend that, if your model has N-Gons, I don’t think that Ae Cs5 nor Ps Cs5 can handle N-Gons. Perhaps that crashes your app?
I opened that in Photoshop and checked the file, the cube was rotatable. So, I saved it as Photoshop file. Normally I avoid the “make compatible”, as I work with really large files and that places only more data into it. But here, I did, just intuitively. Perhaps you check that.
I went to After Effects and opened the Photoshop file as active 3D. Worked fine. So Cube with six polygons and texture worked.
Next file, the “Figure”, same texture. The figure has over 3,000 polygons, certainly a lot for Ae Cs5.
It opened nicely in Photoshop, even 90º different than expected. I saved it as Psd file as above. I saved all of that in the same folder… and even opening the file that contained the figure, I got the cube again.
Well I tried then Colada 1.5, but it missed the texture. So, back to Photoshop and saving it out to a different place.
In AfterEffects it was then received as figure, and loaded quick and easy into it. All on an older computer with only 24GB and not even 8GB given to Ae as app.
If you need really models with more than 3,000 polygons, you might test on your own, but I think that is a healthy level already.
• What I would do always, use the optimize function to eliminate double points.
• Check your normals if they all point in the same direction (in or out)
• Go to Edit> Project info>>Attribute Manager>Structure and check how “healthy” your model is, here you get also an idea if you have N-Gons.
• Make certain that the texture you use is not larger than needed.
• If you use Splines for your models, e.g., Extrusion, check that the intermediate points do not deliver too much information, so the resulting model has not too many polygons/segments.
• Copy your object into a new scene, so you really export only the data needed from there.
• If something fails in Ae, import the dae file and see how it looks in C4D, then in Ps.
This is what I can share. As usual I suggest or share only what I did right now, with few exceptions over the year. So, I know it works here at least.
If something fails, and you have a copy in a new scene, delete everything but the Object, the UV tag, the Phong tag and the texture tag. I’m not certain at that point how selection tags are used and stored (note that they can be as heavy as the complete object in some cases. So if in doubt, cut it out). Cameras and light sources, if you encounter trouble make tests if they create the trouble.
The most advanced thing might be to get a white paper for Collada 1.4 and check in detail what is possible, which doesn’t means Adobe had implemented it at that time.
I hope that helps a little bit