Learn it fast with expert-taught software and skills training at lynda.com. See what you can learn

Article Center Design in Motion Articles

Your source for news, insights, and inspiration at lynda.com. Come learn with us.

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to use XRefs in CINEMA 4D, and why they’re a good idea

Efficiency and flexibility are not just marketing terms, they’re what make motion graphics achievable. Creating moving images is incredibly labor intensive, and once all that labor is done, you still have to hit the render button and wait to preview the result. Being efficient is crucial to meeting deadlines.

Creating a workflow that allows you to swap and modify key elements at any point in the production process is what XRefs are all about. An XRef is a special object that points to a scene file much in the same way a print program, like Illustrator, points back to a master image and uses the original file from the hard drive for printing. Visually, the XRef appears to you as a single object, but it actually represents all the objects in the scene that it’s pointing back to. This means that you can make changes to that scene file, and any XRef that points back to it will automatically update. This also means, since R13 XRef objects allow you to reference a CINEMA 4D file as a single object, that you can manipulate an XRef from an entirely different scene, thus allowing for distributed workflows where one person is modeling while another person animates. This makes for a very flexible way to work.

In this week’s Design in Motion video, I’ll show you how to add an XRef into your animation, and I’ll show you a real-life scenario where having XRefs set up allows me to easily swap two cars in a chase scene, with two completely different cars—all without having to update my animation. If you’re new to XRefs, this tutorial quickly breaks the process down to help you get started. XRefs have made last-minute director swaps quick and easy for me many times, and they can save you, too!

The overall XRef experience has been significantly improved in CINEMA 4D R13. To learn more about those improvements, check out my full CINEMA 4D R13 New Features course on lynda.com. If you are a lynda.com member, make sure to check out chapter five, where I discuss R13 workflow additions, including a specific video on the Xrefs format rewrite.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All CINEMA 4D courses on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:CINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D R13 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Friday, May 04, 2012

Two ways to create a reflective floor in After Effects

Floors create a sense of visual depth and give your designs a sense of space by giving your graphic elements something to ‘sit on.’ Making a reflective floor can be a great way to add an elegant look to your motion graphics layout. When you first see a reflection on a graphic element, trying to recreate it can seem like a daunting task. Really though, there are some techniques that have been carried over from the world of Photoshop that are simple to do, look great, and render fast.

On this edition of Design in Motion, we’ll see two different techniques for creating a reflective floor, one that explores transformation of a duplicate layer, and one that creates your reflective floor with a mirror. Both techniques yield final products that look very similar. The real difference in the two will be the amount of control you need. Using the reflective mirror route allows you to finalize this technique using only one layer, but this route gives you less control. Using the transformation of a duplicate later route you will end up with more layers, but also more control.

If you’re interested in learning more about working in After Effects, a great place to start is the lynda.com After Effects Apprentice series from Chris and Trish Meyer.

Interested in more? • The complete Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and KeyingAfter Effects CS5.5 New FeaturesAfter Effects CS5 Essential Training• After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creating distressed metallic type in CINEMA 4D

Controlling how your objects look in 3D really boils down to asking yourself one important question: What is my object made of? How you answer that question becomes your guide for how you will create the materials that you apply to your objects in 3D. The Material editor in CINEMA 4D has an array of buttons that can be confusing until you start thinking of them as answers to that one most important question.

In this video I dig into the Material editor and show you how to add texture and color to your object using the Color channel, and Specular highlight. To add the distressed look, I show you how to use a Bump channel (found in the Basic tab of the Materials editor) to add in gritty noise, Diffusion to simulate light reflection, and Displacement to add physical surface indentations and deformations. Together, these properties can be manipulated to create a great looking metal material that can be applied to standard type.

When your distressed metal type is done and you’re ready to learn more about materials in CINEMA 4D, myCINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training, and CINEMA 4D: Designing a Promo courses have chapters that will help you understand how to create and control your materials better.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion weekly series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • Courses by Rob Garrott on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:CINEMA 4D R12 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Designing a PromoAfter Effects CS5 Essential TrainingCINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects

By Rob Garrott | Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Using After Effects blend modes to stencil text and create color effects

Blending modes in Photoshop and After Effects are often taken for granted, but neither application started out with these features. When blend modes were introduced into After Effects around Version 3, they literally blew my mind. The idea that you could mix still images together had been long established in Photoshop, and the thought of being able to do that with animation and video was incredible.

Flash forward to the present and blend modes are incredibly well documented, but even with all this documentation, I’m often asked “what can I do with them?” In this week’s edition of Design in Motion, I’ll show you some of my favorite blend modes and how you can use them for type effects and color correction.

After watching this, if you’re ready to learn a lot more, After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control from Chris and Trish Meyer is filled with tips and ideas on how to get the most out of blend modes in After Effects.

Don’t forget that you can also watch Photoshop courses on lynda.com, and the blend mode information there directly translates to After Effects.

Interested in more? • The full Design in Motion series on lynda.com • All video courses on lynda.com • All 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, February 22, 2012

Shading type with gradients in CINEMA 4D

Often times creating type is the bread and butter for motion graphics artists. But like plain old bread and butter, it can get a bit stale. When that happens, gradients are a great way to freshen up your stale type.

A gradient is simply a transition from one value to another. This can be from one color to another, or from light to dark. When used properly, gradients can be used to pump up the legibility of your type, and to make the text really leap off the screen.

Using gradients on text in CINEMA 4D boils down to understanding how textures are applied to objects. This can be a difficult concept to understand, but it’s crucial to getting control of the look and feel of your objects in 3-D. There are three main tools that help you manage the projection of textures on to the surfaces of 3-D objects: The Texture Tag, the Texture Tool, and an often overlooked command in the object manager called Fit To Object. These three elements will give you tremendous control over how your objects appear to the viewer.

For more on this, check out CINEMA 4D R12 Essential training. Chapter six has some great movies on creating and manipulating textures.

Interested in more? • The fullDesign in Motion series 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 Rob Garrott | Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Using dynamic simulations to create animated type in CINEMA 4D

The idea of dynamic simulations has gotten a lot of attention lately. Dynamics allow an animator to create very realistic motion and collisions with objects without using key frames. Nearly every 3-D software package has some kind of module dedicated to this. That being said, dynamics can be somewhat unpredictable by nature, so they’re not entirely flawless. Similar to setting up a stack of dominoes or a Rube Goldberg machine, dynamic simulations just don’t always give you what you expected. This can make them very challenging to use in production, and it often has designers and animators asking themselves what exactly it is they can do with dynamics. With so much unpredictability, what problems can they solve?

The answer is, really, quite a lot! Dynamics can be great addition to your tool kit if you’re willing to accept a bit of unpredictability in your animations. In this short project I’ll show you how to use dynamics to animate some text being knocked over. Using key frames, this kind of animation would be very time consuming, and it would be even harder to make it look convincing. Luckily, CINEMA 4D’s dynamics engine is really easy to use, and allows you to apply these techniques to a variety of different projects.

For more on the important basics of using the CINEMA 4D dynamics engine, check out chapter 14 of my CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training course.

Interested in more? • The fullDesign in Motion series 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 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

Get the latest news

  •   New course releases
  •   Pro tips and tricks
  •   News and updates
  
New releases submit clicked

You can change your email preferences at any time. We will never sell your email. More info

All articles

Featured articles

Article categories

A lynda.com membership includes:

Unlimited access to thousands of courses in our library
Certificates of completion
New courses added every week (almost every day!)
Course history to track your progress
Downloadable practice files
Playlists and bookmarks to organize your learning
Become a member

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.