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By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Polygon modeling a simple object in CINEMA 4D

It’s easy for motion graphics artists to neglect their modeling skills. Websites like Turbosquid, and the wide availability of amazing model libraries mean that a lot of artists can go for a long time without ever modeling anything from scratch. But what happens when a job or client comes along that requires a specific model that you can’t find? Don’t panic! The polygon modeling tools in CINEMA 4D are helpful and easy to use.

Points, Edges, and Polygons are the basic building blocks of all objects in the 3D world. Everything from a simple sphere to a photo-realistic model of a T-Rex are made of these elemental parts. This week on Design in Motion, I’ll show you how to build and animate a simple model of a paper airplane to use as a prop in a logo animation.

For those more advanced modelers who have mastered the CINEMA 4D Essential Training course, I recommend taking your animation skills to the next level with CINEMA 4D: Designing a Promo to learn how to take a 15-second promotional video from concept to on-screen animation, and into final rendering and compositing.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series on lynda.com • The full CINEMA 4D: Designing a Promo course on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:CINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After EffectsAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D and After Effects Integration

By Chelsea Adams | Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Using After Effects’ render queue to be more efficient

At the end of a long day of bending pixels, it is a really satisfying feeling to hit the start button on a long stack of renders in After Effects. As an example, this link shows a screen grab of a render queue I set up on a project. Long render queues like this are not at all uncommon. In my example there are 48 separate render queue entries, but I’m actually rendering out something like 100 different elements. That’s because each render queue item can generate many different outputs. This is a really efficient way to do things, and anyone who’s taken one of my classes will tell you that I’m all about being efficient.

In this edition of Design In Motion, we’re going to explore some ways to be more efficient and do more with less in the After Effects render queue. When we’re done, take a look at the After Effects CS5 Essential Training series by Chad Perkins for more great ways to work with this powerful animation tool.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All After Effects courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects CS5 Essential TrainingAfter Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS4: Apprentice’s Guide to Key FeaturesCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After EffectsAfter Effects CS4 Beyond the Basics

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Motion tracking and color keying with After Effects

Motion tracking (the ability to follow the location of an object in a piece of footage, and use this information to stabilize that shot or animate other layers) and color keying (the ability to make a green- or blue-screen background transparent so that you can replace it with a new image) are two essential visual-effects tasks you need to learn if you want to take your After Effects skills to the next level.

In After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying, Chris Meyer covers tracking and keying basic and essential skills including a quick tour of mocha, the third-party tracking software that is bundled with After Effects, and an introduction to The Foundry’s KEYLIGHT, an Academy Award-winning keying effect that is also built into After Effects.

Throughout the course, Chris shows you how to use the motion tracker and stabilizer built into After Effects, and offers advice on how to handle a variety of shot scenarios. He also discusses how to use tracking and keying to track a greenscreen shot with a handheld camera and replace its background.

While practice is the secret to mastering your tracking and keying skills, getting to look over someone else’s shoulder as they perform these tasks is a great way to jump-start your learning curve.

Interested in more? • The full After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying series on lynda.com • All 3D + animation courses on lynda.com • All 56 lynda.com courses on After Effects • Courses by Chris Meyer on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects Apprentice 04: Layer ControlAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Using After Effects’ Graph Editor to control animation

The difference between a good animator and a great animator is finesse, and no matter what application you’re using, adding finesse to your animations boils down to having control. Using any kind of animation software is a lot like playing a musical instrument, and the greatest musicians in the world all need to have control over their instruments to create the strongest final product.

For musicians, finesse means moving from one note to the next in the appropriate manner, which can mean abrupt movement or seamless and smooth movement. The same is true for motion graphics, except an animator’s finesse means moving with appropriate control from key frame to key frame, rather than from note to note. For motion graphics, After Effects, and CINEMA 4D (C4D) are my instruments. In C4D, you finesse your animations using the F-Curve manager (which you can learn more about in the CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Trainingcourse). In After Effects, you finesse your animations using a tool called the Graph Editor, which is like a  flipped version of the timeline—where you see the key frames themselves in the timeline, we see what’s happening in between the key frames in the Graph Editor.

By definition, a key frame is simply the value of an animation parameter recorded at a specific moment in time. Normally the software will automatically figure out the animation from one key frame to another, but each application has its own default method. For After Effects the default animation between key frames is a linear transition from one value to another. That means that the values automatically move in a straight line with a sharp transition at each key frame. Sometimes that sharp transition is just fine, but there are other times where smoother, more fluid transitions may be the answer. To achieve these fluid transitions, you could use one of the preset key frame interpolations like easy ease (which is my solution about ninety-percent of the time if I need a smooth transition in key values). It’s when you need extra control over your animation’s finesse that I recommend using the Graph Editor.

If this introduction to the power of the Graph Editor gets you fired up, make sure to check out the course After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation by Chris and Trish Meyer and pretty soon you’ll have all the finesse you need!

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series in the Online Training Library® • All 3D + animation courses in the Online Training Library® • Courses on CINEMA 4D in the Online Training Library® • Courses by Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced AnimationCINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After EffectsAfter Effects CS5.5 New Features

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to create a camera shake in CINEMA 4D

Welcome back for another Design in Motion! This time around we’re going to have some fun in CINEMA 4D building a camera rig that will give you the ability to add very convincing multi-directional camera shake that is easy to control. Camera shake is an important component of animation. Just like motion blur, it adds a lot of realism to your movements.

Last week I introduced you to the idea of expressions in After Effects. CINEMA 4D also has an expression language—in fact—CINEMA 4D has three expression languages; Xpresso, Coffee, and Python. Don’t be alarmed, though—we won’t be writing code. We’re going to use the Xpresso language, which is a visual, node based way of making connections between objects and parameters.

Even though we’re building an easy to use camera rig, really, this technique is largely about the idea that you can use the Xpresso language to control objects and animation.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series in the Online Training Library® • All 3D + animation courses in the Online Training Library® • Courses on CINEMA 4D in the Online Training Library® • Courses by Rob Garrott in the Online Training Library®

Suggested courses to watch next: • CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After EffectsCINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingAfter Effects CS5.5 New Features

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Adding stereoscopic 3D text and shapes

If you tuned in to Deke’s Techniques last week, you probably still have your red/cyan cardboard sunglasses at hand. Good thing, because this week, Deke shows you how to take your stereoscopic image and move solid objects (in this case text) behind and in front of the perceived screen plane. Words and pictures coming at you courtesy of Deke and lynda.com! And despite its intricate effect, this technique primarily consists of systemtatically turning channels on and off and moving layers right and left. In fact, Deke gives you a cool, non-3D (take those silly glasses off for a second) graphic that shows you how to move your anaglyphic objects to and fro for the desired effect:

By the end of this free video, you’ll have your text dancing in and out of the screen. And in this week’s lynda.com member-exclusive video, Deke shows you how to apply a tilt effect to that text for an amazingly sophisticated effect that you’ll be hard pressed to find documented anywhere else. Put your silly glasses back on for this one, kids.

And we’ll see you back next week for another Deke’s Technique (Illustrator-style!)

Related links:Deke’s Techniques courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library® courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Deke's Techniques: Shooting and assembling a stereoscopic photo

In this week’s free Deke’s Technique, you’ll see how to create a classic anaglyphic stereoscopic 3D image in Photoshop. Anaglyph images are created by superimposing two slightly different perspectives of the same scene, with each version seen by only one eye or the other, resulting in a sense of depth when your brain fuses the two images into one. In this case, Deke shows you how to create an image intended to be viewed through the old-school red (left) and cyan (right) glasses.

In order to achieve this classic effect, you have to first correctly shoot a pair of images with a slightly shifted perspective, like the ones shown below shot by lynda.com’s own Jacob Cunningham. You can see in the top two images (each with a simulated filter applied), slightly means slightly—as in the distance between your two eyes. Then the two images are placed on separate layers in the same file, and the color channels are turned off so that each of your eyes (with the requisite glasses on) sees a slightly different image. Then, your brain does the rest.

If that’s not enough depth for you, lynda.com members can see an exclusive video in the Online Training Library®, in which Deke (again with the help of Jacob) demonstrates how to create a stereoscopic image with an object projecting out beyond the screen plane.

So grab your cardboard glasses and come experience Deke in 3D! And come back again next week for another free (3D) technique from Deke.

Related links:Deke’s Techniques courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library® courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

By Crystal McCullough | Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Exploring the new feature set in Maya 2011

In Maya 2011 New Features, lynda.com author and content manager for 3D, animation, and video George Maestri explores the significant and robust features in Maya 2011 that add functionality to its 3D workflows. This course covers the addition of Bezier curves for NURBS modelers, the Connect Component and Spin Edge tools in the polygonal modeling mode, and rigging tools for character animation. George also covers enhancements to rendering and special effects, adjusting skin weights with color feedback with Paint Skin Weights, making object-level soft selections, using the camera sequencer, and much more.

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