Compositing 3D renders in After Effects
Video: Compositing 3D renders in After EffectsNow we get down to the nitty-gritty and that's manipulating or compositing our images inside of After Effects. We've got our files imported. Now what do we do with them? We want to be able to have total control of our image. Well, our goal is to make this scene a little bit more dramatic and we want to be able to change the color of the type and also give a little bit of darkening around the edges of the scene. So the first step in that process is to do something called pre-composing. I'm going to grab all of the layers here. I'll select the first one and hit the Shift key and click on the last one.
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CINEMA 4D Essentials with Rob Garrott is a graduated introduction to this complex 3D modeling, rendering, and animation program, which breaks down into installments that can be completed within 2 hours. This installment covers the basics of rendering images and animation and compositing those elements and effects together into a single movie. Rob shows how to optimize your render settings and configure batch rendering for maximum efficiency. On the compositing side, he shows how to use the compositing tag and object buffers to create a flawless composite, and how to round-trip assets between CINEMA 4D and After Effects.
- How the CINEMA 4D render engine works
- Adjusting the render settings
- Rendering still images and animation
- Setting up multipass rendering
- Understanding the linear workflow
- Rendering and importing elements from After Effects
Compositing 3D renders in After Effects
Now we get down to the nitty-gritty and that's manipulating or compositing our images inside of After Effects. We've got our files imported. Now what do we do with them? We want to be able to have total control of our image. Well, our goal is to make this scene a little bit more dramatic and we want to be able to change the color of the type and also give a little bit of darkening around the edges of the scene. So the first step in that process is to do something called pre-composing. I'm going to grab all of the layers here. I'll select the first one and hit the Shift key and click on the last one.
And I'm going to hit Shift+Command+C or Shift+Ctrl+C on the PC, that's going to bring up the Pre-compose window. I want to call this Workflow and then PRE, let's hit OK. And you see we now have a composition, and this composition is the sum of all of those layers that we had from our multipass render and they're now composed in a single composition. It's going to treat them just like one layer, just like a single movie that has everything in it. In the project window I'm going to take this Workflow-PRE and drag it on the new folder button and call that folder Pre-Comps. Here we go.
Now what I want to be able to do is to change the color of the type. Let's take things one at a time. Let's change the color of the type first. To do that, we need to be able to use an object buffer on this Type. So let's find our object buffer first. Let's go to the workflow folder and then the Special Passes folder is object buffer number 3 and that's the object buffer for our type. So let's drag that into the composition down below the Hero Cube Face, you can see there it is our type. If we turn that off you can see it lines up perfectly with our type. So next thing we want to do is to duplicate this layer, Command+D or Ctrl+D on the keyboard, we'll do that.
We're going to use the Track Matte settings to use object buffer number 3 as a Track Matte for this Workflow-Pre layer. So if your Track Matte options aren't visible, you can click on the Switches Modes button to make them visible. Then I'm going to click on the Track Matte pulldown for the Workflow-Pre layer and tell it to use a Luma Matte for workflow_object buffer 3 three. It looks like nothing has happened. If I click on the Solo button right here you can see that I've soloed out compositing workflow all by itself, and that's because it's using that Track Matte as an alpha channel.
Let's uncheck the Solo button to get back. Now we can change the color of the type. If we select Workflow-Pre, let's go to the Effects menu and then go to the Color Correction and do CC Toner. CC Toner is a TriTone plugin and for some bizarre reason, it defaults to this yucky brown color. Now I am going to change that, I want to have something that's a little bit closer to the original scene. I don't want to shift it dramatically. I just want to shift it a little bit. So let's make a nice sort of desaturated kind of purple.
So I'll go into this range here and then get a little more blue and then pull out some of the color. And there's no real wrong answer here, you can pretty much do whatever you feel like here. If you wanted to make it green, you can go right ahead and make it green. I'll hit OK. So I've made my type purple. The thing you can see now is that my reflection no longer matches my type, so I need to go into the original reflection layer and change that color to match my type here. To do that I need to go into the Workflow-Pre comp, let's double-click here and go in to Workflow-Pre comp and select the reflection layer.
I'm going to go to the Effect menu and go to Color Correction and I'm going to go to Change Color. In the Change Color filter, first we have to do is tell it what color we'd like to change. The color we'd like to change is this reflection down here. So let's solo out the reflection pass and then click on the eyedropper and then navigate to one of those colors down there. Let's pick that one, something that's in the middle range. And now we can start to shift those colors around. We want to make them the same as that original purple.
So let's shift the Hue, and you can see that we're going to go quickly through the color wheel to purple. That looks pretty good. We're going to come back towards blue just a little bit and then we'll desaturate. Not bad. And then we can adjust the softness, the matching softness controls, how much of it is actually changing. You can see we're getting a little bit of crunchiness up here and so let's pull that softness way up. In fact, we can probably pull up all the way up, because it's not going to really matter.
We're changing the color on the type here using the TriTone CC Toner filter. So I think it will be okay just by cranking that up all the way. Now we can go back to our main workflow composition and you'll see that not only have we changed that color of the reflection, we've changed that as well, but we've forgotten to un-solo those layers. So let's go back to the Workflow-Pre comp, uncheck the Solo button, and then go back to the main composition. You can see that we've changed our Compositing Workflow type and we've changed the reflections as well.
And don't worry that the reflection is a little bit bright, that's okay. Now what we want to do is add our 2.5D type to the front of the cube. So let's go Command+T or Ctrl+T on the keyboard to bring up the Text tool and I'm going to click any place in the Window and type out the word external compositing tag, and I'll do it all lower case. And I'll do the word compositing. It's a little bit small. Let's go and select All, Command+A or Ctrl+A and let's change the size of that type. Let's bring our type window and make it a little bit more visible, and take the size and crank it way up.
Let's get that and delete that space, select all and then right to justify. Now if I hit Enter on the keyboard I can finish that type off. If you have the Caps Lock checked, go and undo that. Let's get rid of that space there, so everything lines up nicely. Hit Return on the keyboard to finish that of. Now I need to make that type a 3D layer, so let's toggle our switches and then activate the Types 3D check box, and when I do that my type disappears. What I need to do is to take that type and put it in the same location as this Hero Cube Face.
This Hero Cube Face is in the exact same position as the Null Object that we set inside of CINEMA 4D. Now we want to go to the parenting pick whip and take the parenting pick whip for our external compositing tag type and drag it on to Hero Cube Face. Nothing has happened. What we need to do is to select that type and hit the letter P on the keyboard to bring up the position options, and we're going to zero out the position. So we type in 0, tab 0, tab 0. And you can see that our type has now moved to that location. Now what we're going to do is to get the orientation correct, hit R on the keyboard to bring up the Orientation options.
And if we type in 0 here, to 0 everything out, our type is going to be backwards. Let's hold down the Shift key and hit the letter S to bring up the Scale options as well. If we scale that type up, you'll see that it's in fact backwards. So what we need to do is change the Y orientation to 180, that's going to flip that type around. Now we can move the type and you can position it over here just a bit and then position it up. And we're going to adjust the scale down just a bit and scale it into position.
My type is kind of gray and that's not what I want to have for the color of my type and the reason it's gray is because of the light here. This light was imported from CINEMA 4D, I don't need to have it on. I'll just turn it off like that. Now our type is stuck to the front of that cube and you see as we move through the scene, it is looking great. It is perfectly stuck. You'll notice though that it does not have a reflection down here. So let's go ahead and make that reflection by duplicating this text layer, Command+D or Ctrl+D on the keyboard. Hit the letter S to bring up the Scale option and we're going to unlink the scale.
Then take the Y scale of that object and put a minus sign in front of whatever scale value is there. Now -343, yours maybe something different. Put a minus in front of it, that's going to invert it and flip that type over. When I hit Return, you can see that my type jumps upside down. Now we can take in on the Y axis and slide it straight down. If you hold the Shift key down your type moves in a much bigger increment and it should be much easier to set. So I'm going to put it right down there. And then what I'm going to do is to blur it out.
So select that, go to Effects menu, go to Blur & Sharpen, and add a Gaussian Blur. Then you can crank the blur up to match the blur of the floor. That's pretty good, right about there. I want to try about 5 I think. And when I deselect that, you can see that it looks like the reflection now, it blurs in perfectly. The last thing we need to do to our type is you can see that it shows up on top of the cubes. We don't really need to have it show up in the scene until about here, we should call it frame 25.
Actually, let's call it frame 1 second even. If we select both the type layers and hit T on the keyboard, let's set keyframes for the type at 1 second. So that's what we wanted, when we wanted to have it come on. Let's move those keyframes forward, about maybe 4 frames or so, 5 frames, and then 0 out the opacity and that sets the keyframe there. You can see that when it hits it mark, it comes on. Now you can do a little flicker if you want by just adjusting the keyframes here.
We can go up to 100 and then back down to 80. If we select both the type layers and then time back up to 90 and then back down to say, 15 and then back up to 100, there we go. And you'll see that as we scroll through, it will flicker on and be done. Now we're ready for the final step and that is to give a little bit of a focus on our scene.
We're going to make a new Solid layer, Command+Y or Ctrl+Y on the keyboard to make a new Solid, and we're going to select the Deep Blue Solid. If you don't already have a deep blue color picked, you can click on the swatch and then navigate into this range here. I think it's pretty good and maybe add a little bit more red into it, so it's not quite so blue, and hit OK. And then hit OK here. Now we've got this giant solid. I'm going to change the blending mode by toggling the Switches & Modes column, and change it from Normal to Overlay.
When I do that, it's going to mix back in to all these other colors. That's a little too harsh. I don't want it to mix into everything, so let's make a matte for it. Let's click on our Matte options and go to the Ellipse tool and with this Solid layer selected, I'm going to draw out a mask for it. Then I want to invert that mask, and so I click the Inverted button, and if I twirl up in the Mask options, the Mask Feathering, I'm going to Feather out to about 150-ish. You can see now we have a really nice feather on our scene.
So this changes the color of the scene file overall, but still leaves the center of the frame intact, as we can read that 2.5D type really nice. It pops off the scene and draws our eye towards it. So that is the basic process for compositing things inside of After Effects. Now your scenes maybe more or less complicated, but the basic process is the same. Once you've got your render settings done in After Effects, you've got your Multi-Pass options, you have your object buffers, any additional passes like Depth or Ambient Occlusion, you can keep all those things together in After Effects and you can really have total control over your final image.
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