Dan Hume's Blog

3D Title
March 19, 2012, 2:38 pm
Filed under: 3D, After Effects, Cinema 4D, Extended Major Project

After trying out the tutorial by greyscale gorilla, which consisted of creating 3D text and compositing it into a short scene.


Following on from my test of creating the Vimeo logo in 3d then compositing it into a live scene, I really wanted to use this technique in the opening of my documentary. I chose a simple font so that it would be clear to read in 3D. Haraba is my chosen font for the title.

First off I went into Cinema 4D and created the basic outline of my text under the menu, Mograph and then selecting Mograph text. I was able to type what I wanted and select my font type all within Mograph text. The first two screenshots show how the text looked in the 3D environment of the C4D and a rendered view.


I then started adjusting the colour of the text, but since then, I’ve changed it to a creamy white colour instead. To make the text look a bit more dynamic I applied a bevel around the edge of the tex.


I was eager to stat preparing the text for compositing. The next step was for me to select my chosen clip. I opened up After Effects and created a new composition and dragged my chosen clip onto it. I then exported one frame from my clip as a PSD file. This would act as guideline for posting the text in the scene and also lighting the text.

I used the grid and created a 3D camera to help make sure my perspective was right for positioning the 3D object in the environment. This is quite a crucial process as it needs to be as perfect as possible for the object to look really believable with the scene. I wanted to position the text on the ground of the street, so I had to make sure it was firmly sitting onto of the grid for it to work.


Global illumination was the next step for preparing the 3d object for compositing. Global Illumination is a relatively new feature to cinema 4d in which you are now able to light a scene using the pixel data from a still frame image (All the light from an image is projected onto the 3D object).

I created a sky object and added the background image to sky object, which then maps the entire image around the 3D object. I went to select global illumination, and selected Sky Sampler. This then tells cinema 4d to take all the pixel data from the image and use it to light the object. This is not 100% perfect lighting, however for what I’m trying to create, it does the job well. Once that’s was done, I then had to hide the sky object, without turning it off. To do this I went to compositing tags and then deselected the scene by camera option, which then takes you back to the normal view.


Once I hit render again, it clearly started looking more like it was in the scene. However, it still looked a bit dark and not really reflecting the light in scene as good as it should be. To fix this, I went back to the global illumination settings and played around with the gamma and light intensity. I increased the gamma slightly to about 1.8 and the light intensity to about 160% to help brighten the object up to make it correspond well with the light in the scene.

The next thing I did was I added another render effect called Ambient Occlusion. This basically fills in all the missing details such as minor shadows on the actual 3D object. If you can compare both screenshots, you’ll see in the second rendered shot there are some darker areas around the letter ‘a’ for example. The letter ‘a’ has an arch over it so naturally that small area would be darker as the light is being slightly blocked from that surface. In real life where corners meet and when objects are close together, they cast shadows and thats what Ambient Occlusion is designed to achieve.


Now, I really want to have the text sitting on the ground surface of the street. The only thing missing is a shadow on the bottom of the text. Without this shadow, the object doesn’t really fit in the scene and it looks like it’s floating in mid-air.


As my footage was shot handheld, the title needed to be stabilised within the video to look effective. To do this I had to use After Effects as it has a built motion track feature which tracks each frame of the cameras movement. Cinema 4D doesn’t have this feature. I thought I would have been able to render out the 3D title with the shadow from the scene, but unfortunately this didn’t work out and I had to re-create it as best I could in After Effects.


I used after effects to track the movement of the clip so that the 3D text can become fixed into the scene. The first thing I did was adjust some of the lighting using the curves tool, as it wasn’t 100% perfect after exporting out of Cinema 4D. Once I was happy with how it looked in terms of being realistic in the scene, I was then ready to track the footage using track motion.

The track motion in After Effects is probably the most basic compared to other softwares out there, so it does require a few goes until you can get a stable track. For me it took about 4 goes because I needed to find suitable distinct objects within the shot to track.

Once the track was finished, I then parented it null object to the 3D text so it would now look like it’s been fixated into the shot. However, with the lack of a shadow, it still doesn’t look like it’s been composited properly. The way I approached this was to duplicate the 3D text.


Then I added a motion blur to the duplicated layer and changed the colour of it to black. It was then a case of squashing the blurred image and positioning right underneath the original 3D text layer.


It’s not as effective as creating a plane and using Ambient Occlusion in Cinema 4D, but it creates the same effect nonetheless. I made a quick video render to show the completed version all tracked and composited.

3D compositing using global Illumination for Lighting
February 4, 2012, 11:48 pm
Filed under: 3D, After Effects, Cinema 4D, Extended Major Project

I’ve been thinking about adding some minor 3D elements to this project. This will be a big step up for me as I’ve not really exceeded in using 3D software… until now. So far I’ve been experimenting with Cinema 4D to create simple and effective looking 3D elements.

This is brief overview of how I used Cinema 4D and After Effects to composite a still 3D object into a video scene. I used a template from the Vimeo Press website where you can download a high resolution version of the logo. I used this template to extrude from in Cinema 4D; therefore avoiding one of my worst nightmares when using 3D software., which is modelling.

The reason I’ve chosen to use Cinema 4D is because I feel it’s more logical and more broken down compared to Maya. I would say Maya is the top software to use for 3D visual effects, but the results you can produce in Cinema 4D is almost as good, if not better than Maya. It’s also quite an innovative piece of software to, which enables users to composite 3D elements more effectively with it’s Global Illumination feature. This attribute is designed to light scenes in a more realistically by using pixel data for an still image. This data is then projected on to the 3D object/character.

Before I imported the logo into C4D, I needed to convert it to an Illustrator 8 file, which made it compatible for C4D to read and saves the logo as a vector file.

Cinema 4D

I  used C4D as my primary software to create a 3D version of the Vimeo logo.

After Effects

AE was used primarily to really integrate the 3D logo even more into the scene to make it more realistic. I tracked and colour corrected the whole scene to fully combine both different types of media into one video.

Finished Version

As you can the final result is a composited 3D word. This is what I’d like to do, but with the words relating to sustainability that I talked about in my previous post. I feel with this input of information into the video, it should help give the viewer a clearer understanding of what they’re watching.

Cinema 4D
November 19, 2010, 8:58 am
Filed under: 3D, Cinema 4D

Just been trying out some other 3D software, which is Cinema 4D. I actually prefer this software to Maya as it seems a bit more logical to use. Having used Maya previously, I have learnt quite a bit about certain terminology, which has helped me to be able to use C4D. I’ve now got a better understanding of 3D after watching various C4D tutorials. Below are some basic renders below, just to get me going.


Some basic animation and Lighting.

Shatter effect and using HDRI lighting.

Above is a screen capture of Cinema 4D. As you can see it’s got quite a similar interface to Maya.

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