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Design in Motion is a series of creative techniques featuring short projects using After Effects and CINEMA 4D. Taught by motion graphics expert Rob Garrott, the course covers how color correction, expressions, rendering type, lighting, and animation are used in each program, and the topics are updated weekly. Using these tips and tricks, motion graphics designers will find designing to be a more efficient process.
Hi! Rob Garrott here, and welcome to Design in Motion, the weekly series where we explore important fundamentals in the world of motion graphics. Being a good motion graphics artist is really about getting control over your animations, and in the 3D compositing world there is no better tool for that than the object buffer. An object buffer is simply a fancy way of saying, a matte for individual components within your 3D rendered scene. They can be a bit confusing to use at times but I think you'll see that this is worth it for the control you get in After Effects. Let's take a look. So I've got this Raw Rendering from CINEMA 4D and I've already organized the layers here in After Effects, and this is the Raw Render from CINEMA 4D.
You can see I've got the white type on type of green pillar. If I do a RAM Preview, it's kind of a cool reveal here, where it says Object Buffer on a rotating pillar, on a reflective floor. Now I'm going to show you how to take this rendering here from the Raw green, blue and white and change the colors here in After Effects to this blue, white and red scene. I'll do a RAM preview of that by hitting 0 on the numeric keypad. So I've already organized these files here in After Effects and I've got my renderings all imported correctly with the Special Passes including the RGBA pass in these folders here in After Effects.
Now let me move over to CINEMA 4D and show you how these files are generated, because that's really where the magic starts is here in CINEMA 4D. You can see that I've got compositing tags on all the key elements, and I've set up object buffers for them. So if you're not sure how to set up object buffers, take a look at the CINEMA 4D Essential Training course and you'll see just how to do that. If I go to the Render Settings, I'll hit Command+B or Ctrl+B on the keyboard. You can see that I have Render Settings set up the Multi-Pass and I've got object buffers identified for all the key elements, and I like to name my object buffers here so that I have it as kind of a guide for what I did in the project file.
Because when you get in After Effects all they are called is object buffer 1 through whatever--how ever many object buffers you named. And so it's very important to go back and create this guide for yourself so you can figure out how things were made. So I've got a single object buffer for each of the key elements in my scene, and I have rendered this out using the standard settings for Multi-Pass, that you can also find in the Essential Training course. So let's go back to After Effects and I've got them imported already. I've imported the AEC file and what I want to do start from a clean comp.
So I'll open up the Special Passes folder and grab the RGBA movie file and drag that onto the New Comp button and that's going to give me a new composition with this as the new name. And I'll rename this composition by hitting Command+K or Ctrl+K on the keyboard and call it Working. And I'll drag that Working file out here and let's boot it out to here, anyplace, you can just drag it down and that will pop right out of that file. You see it's at the bottom of the stack now. So this is going to be the base where we'll actually start our color correction of that scene.
So the first thing I want to do is get control over my image, and the way I'm going to do that is by using the object buffers to isolate this type and the pillar. So the first object buffer I'm going to use is object buffer 6, and if I drag into the composition you can see that this object buffer represents the type and the pillar altogether. So now I've got this object buffer set up, how do I use it as a Track Matte? I change my Switches and Modes. If your Switches are showing just click on this button to toggle it back and forth. Now I'll tell this layer number two to use object buffer 6 as a Track Matte and also use Luma Matte object buffer 6, and you can see now I've got that object buffer isolated.
The reflection is now gone from the floor, and if I turn on Transparency Preview, you see I have this fully isolated. So now, the next thing I want to do is isolate the type. So I've already got my object buffer set up here, all I really need to do is select both of these layers and hit Command+D or Ctrl+D to duplicate them, and now I want to automatically replace this object buffer 6 with my new object buffer, and the object buffer I'm going to use is object buffer 5. So if I select that layer and I go to object buffer 5 and I hold down the Alt or Option key and drag that in, and now it's automatically replaced.
That's a really great thing, drag and drop replacement. If I turn on the Transparency Preview it looks like nothing has happened, but if I turn on the Solo you can see that I now have object buffer, the type, all isolated. Now I could change its color. So let's go to the RGBA layer and we'll go to Effects and then choose CC Toner from the Color Correction menu, and when I do that, my type gets this kind of sepia color on it. Now in the Effects Controls for CC Toner I can change this, it's set to a tritone, and I'm going to change the Midtones and make this blue.
So I'll select a nice blue color up in this range here, not too saturated. Now to get the faces to come over I will change the Highlights and I'll go into the blue range again and let's bring those Highlights into about there, that's pretty good. You can season to taste as they say in the cooking world. So now I've got this object buffer color corrected blue, and you can see that if I highlight this, that I've got my object buffer all corrected out and I can make it any color I want. So now what we can do is move onto the other elements in the scene.
So I'll duplicate these layers again, selecting them both by holding down the Shift key and then Command+D or Ctrl+D to duplicate them, and now when I replace that object buffer one more time. So the next object buffer I'm going to use is object buffer 2. So let's go back in here and find object buffer 2, and I'll hold-down the Alt or Option key again and Option+Drag that in there, and you can see now I've isolated these little vertical things on the pillar. And if I solo that out you can see there they are. Now I can make them any color. I think I'll go ahead and leave them this kind of darker blue.
Now we can move on to the horizontals. I'll duplicate these layers one more time and then grab just this object buffer and then I'll drag an object buffer 7 by holding down the Alt or Option key, and that gives me these horizontal elements on the pillar. Now I can change those colors to red, so I'll select the RGBA and go over here to the Effects Controls and I'll change these tritone colors to be red. Let's start with the Highlight and bring that up here and that's good right there, and these layers have mostly Midtones and so that's why you didn't see much of a change there.
So I'll select the Midtones and bring that up here, make that a nice bright red, and it contrasts nicely with the verticals. Now I need to do these rings and the rings are a little bit tricky. I've got them as separate items in object buffers, in separate object buffers and I did that on purpose to illustrate a point that you can combine object buffers together rather than having to do all this duplication. So I want to change both these rings at the same time, even though I have a single object buffer for each one. So if I go back to my Project Settings, I know that object buffers 1 and 4 are the ones for these rings.
So if I select object buffer 4 and then I select object buffer 1 by holding down the Command or Ctrl key, I can drag those on to the New Comp button and I get the choice to make a Single or Multiple Composition. I'll do Single, hit OK, and now I've got these in here. Now you can see there is only one ring visible. If I change this blending mode for the top ring to be Add, now the white colors will add in and now I've got both rings visible. And now let's change the name of this composition, I'll hit Command+K or Ctrl+K, and we'll call this one Ring Buffers PRE.
So this Ring Buffers PRE composition, we're going to use as a Track Matte back here on our Working composition. So let's duplicate these layers one last time and let's select just this topmost layer, and now we'll Option+Drag or Alt+ Drag in this Ring Buffers PRE, and you can see now that's changed the rings to that red color. So I'll go ahead and leave those as red, and I think that's going to work just fine. Now the last step in this process is to do the reflection, and the reflection is another multi-step process. There is no way to do reflections with an object buffer in C4D.
So I came up with this technique of rendering things as green and then using that green color to generate a mask, and I'm going to do that using a Keying plug-in. Let's start off by taking the reflection movie and dragging it onto the New Comp button and we'll change the name of this composition by hitting Command+K or Ctrl+K on the keyboard and calling it Reflection Green Mask, and I'll hit OK. So if I scrub forward in time, I want to make a alpha channel for everything that's green, and I'm going to use a Keying program to do that. First I need to select the layer, and then if go to Effects and I go to Keying and I'll select Keylight.
And the Keylight plug-in is defaulted to black as the screen color. So we have to tell it what color to use as a key, so I'll select this nice bright green. You can see that immediately keys it out. And I'll turn on the Transparency Preview, so I can see what my grid looks like, and now I can use the Screen Gain to blow that out a little bit to include more of the image, and I'll bring that up to about 300 or so, in the 300 range. So I think that's pretty good right there. Now that's going to give me a nice matte for everywhere that's green. So let's go back to our Project Window.
Now what we need to do is to take this reflection movie and we're going to make a reflection pre comp, and I'll do that by dragging that onto the New Composition button. Let's change the name of this composition and call it Reflections PRE. So let's scrub forward in time, and in this composition we're going to now drag in that Reflection Green Mask, and we want to use this Reflection Green Mask in the same way that we use the object buffers as a Track Matte. So now let's go to the Track Matte options, and we'll tell the Track Matte for this number two layer to use the Alpha Inverted Matte for the Reflection Green Mask.
And you'll see that when I do that, now I have my green parts isolated. So let's go back to the Working comp. We'll take the CC Toner off of this red layer here. We'll just take that and copy it and we'll move back to the Reflections PRE and we'll select this layer and paste down that same red color onto our reflection layer. Now what we want to do is to duplicate this layer, because we need to have the rest of the layer visible in the reflection. So we'll duplicate that and we'll move it down below everything. Now we don't wanted to have a Track Matte, so we'll turn the Track Matte settings off to None, and also we don't want this to be colorized red.
So we'll go the CC Toner for that and just delete it. Now we've got that nice red and blue reflection going on here. If we go back to the Working composition now, we can now set this up with a reflection of floor. So if we go back to the Project Window and we take our Reflection PRE comp and drag it into the composition, now all we need to do is dial down this reflection to the right intensity. You never want to see the reflections at 100% because they compete with the image. So if we go to the Transparency Options for this, I'll hit T on the keyboard and dial down the Opacity, you can see now I've got control over that image and we have a fully colorized image using the object buffers.
Getting control over the color of your 3D renderings will really make your work stand out from the crowd. For more on working with object buffers, check out my course CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects here on lynda.com. That's it for this edition of Design in Motion. Keep it moving and I'll see you next time.
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