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Creating render passes using the Render Elements plug-in

From: CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

Video: Creating render passes using the Render Elements plug-in

Compositing in After Effects requires the use of layers, and breaking your scene into layers can be really challenging. Fortunately, there is an amazing free plug-in for CINEMA 4D that makes that process really easy and intuitive. It's called Render Elements, and it was created by a very talented artist and programmer named Adam Swaab. Now, before we start the Render Elements process, what I want to do is fix something in the Render Settings that's very important. In the previous movie, we were using a test render to test out our movie to make sure that we had the correct layers. In order to do that test render, we had changed our range of frames, and I want to change that back now.

Creating render passes using the Render Elements plug-in

Compositing in After Effects requires the use of layers, and breaking your scene into layers can be really challenging. Fortunately, there is an amazing free plug-in for CINEMA 4D that makes that process really easy and intuitive. It's called Render Elements, and it was created by a very talented artist and programmer named Adam Swaab. Now, before we start the Render Elements process, what I want to do is fix something in the Render Settings that's very important. In the previous movie, we were using a test render to test out our movie to make sure that we had the correct layers. In order to do that test render, we had changed our range of frames, and I want to change that back now.

So I'm going to go to the Render Settings, and in the Render Settings, I'm going to click on the Output option and I'm going to change my Frame Range From 0 To 149. I'm hitting the Tab key to get through those fields. And that's very, very important. We want to make sure that we're rendering out the correct range of frames. Now the Render Elements setup process is pretty intuitive, as long as you understand the interface. I'm going to go to the Plugins menu. Now, I've already installed the Render Elements plug-in. It's a very simple procedure. Once you've downloaded it from Adam's web site, simply quit CINEMA 4D if you already have it open and drag the Render Elements plug-in right into the plug-ins folder in the Maxon subfolder in your applications folder.

So once you've done that, you really want CINEMA 4D, and then Render Elements will show up here in the Plugins menu. So now I'm going to launch the Render Elements interface, and when I do that, I get the Render Elements window. And the Render Elements window, I'm going to just kind of move around. We're going to have to keep it floating here. It's going to get a little bit tight for our window arrangement, but we're going to need to have quite a few things open just to keep things organized. So I'm going to move my Render Settings over right here, and I'm going to bring them down and just make them a little bit smaller. We're going to be needing to access the object manager, too. So the first thing I want to do is set up a render element called Everything ON, and I like to do this sort of as backup.

Right now, when I hit the Render button, everything shows up in the Viewport as rendering on, and that's what I want to preserve that state, and so that's going to allow me to do that. So I'm going to go down here in the Render Elements window, click in the Name field, and type 'Everything ON'. And I'm going to hit Record Element, and when I do that, I get to the Everything ON render element. Now if ever need to get back to the state where I have all my objects on, the Everything ON render element will allow me to do that. I can always load that state, and my scene will come back to this original arrangement of things being visible or not visible.

Now, what we're going to do is work our way down through the image and grab things one at a time. So we're going to start off with the beams, and the beams are the visible light beams that are emanating out of the platform. I want to have them on their own separate pass. I'm going to twirl some of these items closed just because I don't need them open right now, and that's going to make my object manager a little bit easier to deal with. Now the only thing I want on in this pass are the Platform Beams. But, very important, I want the Platform Beams to interact with these other objects in the scene. And if I render, I'm going to hit Command+R, or Ctrl+R on the keyboard if you're on a PC. And you can see that this visible light actually is volumetric, meaning that it interacts with the geometry, and you can see little edge rays extending off of the type and off of the phone.

So what I want to have is I want the phone and the type to still affect the light, but I don't want them to show up in the render, and that's where the compositing tag comes in. So if I go to the compositing tag for the Type parent--and I'm going to move my Render Settings out of the way. I'm going to go to the Tag properties and turn off Seen by Camera. And then I'm going to do the same thing for the Phone Uber, and I'm going to turn off Seen by Camera. And then I'm going to do the same thing for the Stadium, and I'm going to turn off Seen by Camera. Now when I do my test render, you're going to see that there is still going to be some things left on.

That's because those things have their own compositing tags, and so if I render, most of everything else is gone. The phone body is still there, the phone screen, excuse me. But my type is gone, but the effect of the type is still there. What I need to do now is go down through my other compositing tags and make them all not be Seen by Camera as well. So I'm going to go down to the ones I have visible right now, and I'll select the Upper Tube and tell it not to be Seen by Camera, the giant BG tube, don't be Seen by Camera. And if I go into my Stadium now, I need to find all these compositing tags. And I click on Base Platform, don't be Seen by Camera, and let's scrub down a bit and twirl open the Stadium.

There are my lights, don't be Seen by Camera. And the Stadium seats, if I twirl open that section group right there, that's going to have my crowd in it, so I can find that. There is my crowd seats, don't be Seen by Camera. And I think I've got--there are my pistons. I don't want to have those seen by camera either. So I'll twirl that open and on all three of these tags, I'm going to tell it not to be seen by camera. Then I'm going to do one last test render, and when I render now, I should only see the volumetric light, and that's perfect. Looks like I've still get part of my phone, so let's go back up and find the Phone. And if I go into the Phone Uber and twirl that open--and my Phone Screen still has a compositing tag on it.

So I'm going to uncheck Seen by Camera on that compositing tag, and now when I do my test render, Command+R or Ctrl+R, now I can see just the beams. So what I do now is I go under the Render Elements window, and I rename this thing and call 'Beams Pass', B-E-A-M-S Pass, and I'm going to hit Record Element. Now what that gives me is the Beams Pass, but I've left out one very important part of the Beams Pass, and that's the render file name. And so if I go to my Render Settings in here--I am going to bring that window up--and under the Save dialog, I want to input in the Multi- Pass Image Save field, Beams Pass.

Actually, I'll just call it Beams for short. And now I'm going to hit Record Element one more time, and that's going to solidify that. It's a very important step when you're using Render Elements. You have to, any change you make in the Render Settings, or in the tags here, you always have to re-record your elements. So I'll hit Record Element and it's going to ask me, do you want to overwrite that? Yes, I do in this case, and now I'm ready to go. So I'm just going to rearrange my palettes here a little bit. The next step in the process is we want to create something called the Phone Pass, and that's going to be just the phone by itself. And this is going to go a lot easier now, because we've already established what compositing tags would need to be on for on in our Render Settings.

That's why I started with the Beams Pass first, because I knew that once I turned everything else off, it would be very easy just to reveal the things that I needed for the subsequent passes. So I'm going to start off by naming this pass and call it Phone Pass. That way I don't accidentally overwrite my Beams Pass, and I'll Record that Element. And now within the Phone Pass, I'm going to first off change the name from Beams to Phone, and then I'm going to move my Render Settings out of the way, and I'm going to reveal the Phone. So I don't need the Beams on anymore, so I'm going to kill the beam light completely, and I'm just going to click that guy and turn it off.

Then in the Phone Screen compositing tag, I'm going to turn on and tell it to be seen by camera, and then on in the Phone Uber null compositing tag, I'm going to tell it to be seen by camera. And then I'm going to Command+R or Ctrl+R to do a Render Setting, and you can see that I only see the actual phone and the screen, nothing else, and that's perfect, just the way I want it. So now I've verified I've changed the Render Setting, the render File name, and I've already got my Phone Pass. I'm going to re-record my element, and then tell it Yes to overwrite, and that's it.

That Phone Pass is locked in. Next up is a Type pass, and that one is really simple as well. I'm going to start off by naming my render element and call it Type pass, and I'm going to hit Record Element. And then I'm going to start off by changing the Render Setting File name, and call it Type. And then I'm going to move that Render Settings out of the way. Now I don't want my phone to show up now, so what I do is go to the Phone Uber, tell it don't be Seen by Camera, go to Phone Screen, tell it don't be Seen by Camera, and then I'm going to go to the Type Parent and tell it please be Seen by Camera. And now when I do my test render, Command+R or Ctrl+R, I should only see the type. And that's in fact what I see, so now I can go to the Render Elements and re-record my Type pass render element.

So I click Record Element, Yes overwrite, and that's the Type pass is all set up. Next up, I want to set up the Stadium Pass, and that's going to be basically everything except for the beams, the phone, and the type. So now what I'll do is start off by making a Stadium Pass render element, and I'll hit Record Element, and then I go to my Render Settings, change it to read Stadium, and then I'm going to make the Type not Seen by Camera, and then I want to make all the stadium parts visible.

So in order to do that, I'm going to go to--let's twirl close the Phone Uber--and in the Stadium Piston Uber null, I want to make that visible, so I tell it to be Seen by Camera. And then I'll go to Base Platform, tell it to be Seen by Camera. And I'm going to work my way down through each of these guys and tell them all to be Seen by Camera, and scroll down here. There is my crowd seat, Seen by Camera. Keep scrolling down. There is my pulses and my pistons. Tell those all to be Seen by Camera. And then the last two, the Upper Tube and giant tube, tell them to be Seen by Camera as well.

Then last but not least, we want to test render, Command+R or Ctrl+R. And if all goes well, we should see just the stadium elements--no type, no phone, no beams. And in fact, that's exactly what I see, so this render element is good. So I'll verify real quick that I've got my stadium there, and then I'll rerecord the Stadium Pass by clicking Record Element and tell it to overwrite, and that's it for the Render Elements setup. So as you can see, Render Elements makes it really easy to control our render setups right in the single file.

In the old days before Render Elements existed, you would have had to save our different versions of your file, making it a real pain if you had to go back and make any changes, because you'd have to make sure those changes were updated in every single version of the file, and that would make the render setup process a lot more difficult.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects
 
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  1. 5m 48s
    1. Welcome
      57s
    2. Using the exercise files
      50s
    3. Essential plug-ins
      4m 1s
  2. 51m 44s
    1. Essential render settings
      6m 24s
    2. Setting up an object buffer list
      6m 17s
    3. Creating object buffer tags
      10m 48s
    4. Setting up multi-pass image layers
      5m 37s
    5. Creating an external compositing tag
      1m 47s
    6. Creating render passes using the Render Elements plug-in
      9m 39s
    7. Using Render Elements to optimize render passes
      5m 12s
    8. Batch rendering
      6m 0s
  3. 31m 33s
    1. Importing files and organizing an After Effects project
      6m 58s
    2. Creating a 3D object precomp
      3m 15s
    3. Attaching a video layer to a 3D object
      8m 17s
    4. Compositing 3D text
      2m 47s
    5. Compositing a dynamic 3D background
      4m 23s
    6. Setting markers for major events
      5m 53s
  4. 39m 46s
    1. Adding the Star Glow effect to a layer
      4m 32s
    2. Creating a glow on the stadium background
      5m 56s
    3. Revealing the background glow using a 3D layer mask
      7m 19s
    4. Creating a glow using the Ambient Occlusion pass
      6m 9s
    5. Using the Ambient Occlusion glow to create an energy animation
      4m 25s
    6. Creating a stadium light effect using object buffers
      4m 38s
    7. Adding flash bulbs with the CC Light Rays effect
      6m 47s
  5. 53m 16s
    1. Creating the phone reveal
      5m 10s
    2. Creating the phone reveal glow
      7m 49s
    3. Creating the phone reveal beams
      7m 17s
    4. Colorizing the energy beams
      6m 21s
    5. Creating the energy burst
      10m 19s
    6. Using Trapcode Particular to add sparks to the phone reveal
      10m 53s
    7. Creating the phone screen video
      5m 27s
  6. 15m 37s
    1. Creating the type glows
      9m 36s
    2. Adding the type glint
      6m 1s
  7. 34m 33s
    1. Creating a camera shake effect using precomps
      8m 12s
    2. Adding depth of field with the Lens Blur effect
      8m 14s
    3. Transitioning to full-screen video
      8m 17s
    4. Using the ReelSmart Motion Blur effect
      4m 17s
    5. Putting together the final comp
      5m 33s
  8. 1m 25s
    1. Next Steps
      1m 25s

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