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CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects demonstrates how to take a simple logo animation in CINEMA 4D and transform it into a compelling motion graphic with After Effects, incorporating two distinct visual styles. Starting with a prebuilt animation rendered from CINEMA 4D, author Rob Garrott employs industry-standard techniques, utilizing materials, lights, and the library of effects in After Effects, to enhance the project's look and feel. Exercise files accompany the course.
So our phone has tons and tons of energy, but one of the problems with the energy that we've added to the phone is it's very localized the phone itself. And we want this energy to expand outward into the scene to really feel like an explosion. To do that, we're going to create a 2D layer and add a mask to our phone. And we're going to use that mask to give the impression that this energy from the 2D layer is traveling outward from the origin of the phone. Now, you'll probably ask yourself, well, Rob! Why would you use a 2D layer for this? We've been using 3D track mattes in the other movies up until this point.
Well, back in the day before After Effects even had 3D layers, this is a technique that I would use to actually create the illusion of glows and effects and stuff like that. We had to create masks on layers by hand. Sometimes I like to do that because it gives me a little bit more control and makes it feel a little bit more organic than the raw precision of placing 3D solids. So what I want to do is in the MMM- 001 composition I am going to make a new solid layer, so Command or Ctrl+Y on the keyboard. And we want to make this orange so I am going to click on the color swatch.
I am going to pull up an orange here, a nice rich orange, not too much red to it. There we go! That feels pretty good. And I'll hit OK. And I am going to call this layer Phone burst. I'll make it the same size as the composition and hit OK. The Phone burst layer is at the very top of the stack right now and I need to be able to see my phone. So I am going to drag the Phone burst layer down below my phone. This is just temporary until we get it in position, and then we'll move it back up again. So I am going to drag it, drag it right down below the Phone Pass Pre.
So now I can actually see my phone. Now the place where we want this to happen is at the Camera Shake point where the phone is emerged from the platform and then the explosion happens and that triggers the camera to jump back from the phone. So if I drag my camera to that point in time, I am going to solo out these layers. I can't really see the shape of the phone because of all the glows and stuff that we have on top of it. And I am going to start by soloing the Phone burst and then I am going to solo the Phone Pass Pre. Now I can easily see the shape of those guys.
On the Phone burst I am going to create a mask. And to do that, I am going to click on the Pen tool here. When I do that, I want to activate RotoBezier. RotoBezier is a feature in After Effects that makes very smooth flowing paths automatically for you, so you don't have to deal with the hassle of Bezier handles. So I am going to click that and when I start to draw, I am going to zoom-in on this layer, get in there nice and close. I'll Spacebar and move around here. I am going to start drawing this around. It doesn't really matter which corner you start on because we're going to draw a complete circle around our phone.
So if I grab this here and here and as I go around, you don't have to be super-precise because remember this is going to immediately start to expand outward for the phone. So really all we're trying to do is capture the impression of the shape. That's one of the nice things about this technique is you're not really rotoscoping. You're just sort of capturing the shape initially and then expanding on it from there. So I've got the Phone burst masked off, and if we just look at that layer you can see that it shows up as an outline of the phone.
If I zoom out from my composition I am going to hit the comma key on the keyboard to get back out again. You can see that it's captured the phone shape pretty well. I'd like to have this mask animate. In order to do that, I have to activate the mask keyframes. So if I go to the Phone burst and if I hit M on the keyboard, that reveals the mask. And I'll turn on the stopwatch for the mask path and that allows me to set keyframes for the mask path at that point in time. So now any changes that I make to the mask from this point forward will be automatically keyframed for me.
We want our mask to start expanding outward. The point where we want it to stop expanding is right around frame 55 or so. We don't have to set up a keyframe on every single frame. We just need to capture some key points. So if I go to my Phone Pass and I'll turn that back on again, as I scrub forward in time you can see the phone is rotating. So if I go forward a few frames to where the phone is about like that, I am on frame 42, and I am going to take the mask and position it, I can move these points one at a time, or I could hit a Command+T on the keyboard and that's going to give me the Transform Handles for this mask.
When you hit Command+T, it's actually Command or Ctrl+T is the shortcut for the Type tool unless you have a mask selected already. In that case it's the shortcut to bring up the transform handles for that mask. So just be careful with that. I am going to rotate that around and then expand it outward. And once again, I don't have to be super-precise with this. I just want to basically capture the shape of the phone because I am going to make it larger than the phone is anyway. There we go! When I am done with the transform handles I'll hit Return on the keyboard.
That commits the Transform. Next thing I want to do is grab those handles right there and kind of drag them out and then grab those and drag them out. So now as the phone explodes out of that, you can see this will start to expand outward. Right here in the middle I want to make some adjustments and I am going to bring these out here and this one out here so that we have a gradual progression in our phone edge. There we go! That's much better.
Now I'll move forward in time again. There we go! And somewhere right about here we're going to expand these out one more time. Then once I've got it sort of roughed-in, I want to just expand it a little bit more. But rather than move these points one at a time again, I can select all the points by hitting Command+A or Ctrl+A and I can now use the transform handles, Command or Ctrl+T, to bring those up. I am going to scale this outward. But if I just drag one of these corners, it's going to scale from the other corner.
If I hold down the Command key or Ctrl key while I am dragging, then it will expand that mask evenly from the center anchor point. So I'll go to about there and now as I scrub through my animation, you could see that the energy expands outward from that phone. So now I am going to go to my last frame which is about 55 or so. That's where I want the phone explosion to be gone from the scene. I am going to use the comma key and back out twice, so I have a much smaller screen. Now, I'll hit Command or Ctrl+T again and I am going to expand this outward.
Hold down the Command key and have it go all the way off the page. Now what happens is as I scrub through you can see that it starts at that phone and then boom! Explodes outward from the center. So now what I do is I am going to feather this mask. it's got a very hard edge on it right now. So if I go to mask options and adjust the feathering, and I'll bring the feathering to say I don't know, let's make it to 100. Yeah! That feels pretty good actually. And I might want to keyframe that feather over time because I'd like to have it be a little bit tighter on the phone.
So in fact, I'll do that. At the point where the explosion first starts, I am going to keyframe the Mask Feathering. So I am going to bring this down to about maybe 10 and set a keyframe for the Mask Feathering. And then I'll advance forward in time and right about the point where my mask is going to start to expand outward, I am going to bring that Mask Feathering to about 50 or so. I'll just type-in 50. Then at the point where it's completely expanded, I am going to make that 100. So now what's going to happen is the explosion will start very tight on the phone and then feather off as it expands outward.
If I turn this on right now, and I'll un-solo all the other layers, you can see that my Phone burst is covering everything up. What I want to have is I want to have this interact with all the elements in the scene. But right now it's below most of the elements. So I am going to take this and drag it to the very top of the layer stack at the top of the composition Timeline and I am going to change the blending mode. I am going to change the blending mode to Add and watch what happens when I do that. Now it's over the top of the image and you can see that orange energy completely consumes the rest of the image.
As I scrub through there, as it travels outward, it really adds a lot of heat that's emanating from the phone itself. Now I want this heat to dissipate over time. So right about here as the explosion is starting to reach the edges of the frame I want it to start to disappear. So I am going to move to that point in time and then set Opacity keyframe for the entire layer. So I'll hit T on the keyboard to bring up the Opacity option and I'll activate the stopwatch and then I'll go to my out point, line it up with that keyframe, and I am going to change the Opacity to 0.
So now as it explodes outward from the phone, it expands and then dissipates. Now, at the point of the Camera Shake where the explosion starts to happen, I don't want to see this layer until exactly that point. So I am going to move the in point for the layer. Now I am not shifting the whole layer; I am simply editing the in-point for the layer and I am only moving the in-point. I don't want to move the keyframes at all. So I am going to drag that to the right and have it start right there at that moment in time.
So now if I deselect that and scrub through, let me zoom in a bit so we can see the whole thing, and I'll zoom- in and fill the screen with it. So now, as our animation comes up, this energy expands outward from the phone. You can see this orange glow that just really overwhelms the whole image as if our phone has an energy beam radiating from it. After Effects has a lot of really complicated tools. But sometimes I like to go back to the old-school favorites and add some effects with those.
And this very simple technique of using a 2D solid layer with an animated mask really adds a lot of energy to our phone, and we did it in a very short, simple way.
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