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Chris Meyer—a long-time user of both programs—explains how to move 3D worlds from Maxon's CINEMA 4D into Adobe's After Effects and add additional 3D elements that blend perfectly. Chris shows how to transfer 3D cameras, lights, and position data from CINEMA 4D to After Effects; create track mattes to composite new elements into the middle of a scene; and take advantage of multi-pass rendering to quickly remix and even recolor lights, shadows, reflections, and more. Paced comfortably for beginners, this course also reveals numerous advanced tricks and techniques, such as the use of blending modes and how to cast shadows from new 3D layers in After Effects onto rendered 3D elements from CINEMA 4D. Exercise files accompany this course.
- Locating objects for export from CINEMA 4D
- Adding layers to a composition after importing into After Effects
- Separating lights in CINEMA 4D and remixing in After Effects
- Understanding the problems with shadows during integration
- Refining 3D shadows in After Effects
Skill Level Intermediate
Once the render is done in Cinema 4D, you can to return to After Effects and in this case, we're not going to bother with the video, so just start with the blank project. Again, do Command+I on Mac or Ctrl+I on Windows to Import your Cinema render. Let's go to the Project we just created. It's in Chapter 4/Cinema/separate light renders and there is our .aec, which Cinema created for us. So I'll select that and do Open. Take a second to think about it, because it's a more complex project. Twirl it down.
Now we see not only do we have our Ambient and Reflection passes, and Special Passes of our normal background and our object buffer, we now have folders for each of our lights that were rendered in Cinema, and inside each of those folders is a pre- composition for that light, I'll open this up a little bit more. And then the separate Diffuse, Shadow and the Specular highlights, which you can't see in this render, for each of the lights.
Let's go ahead and open up our big composite. Again, on this project, I just use a null object instead of the solid for where the video wall goes. This contains that important information of Position and Rotation, which you can copy and paste to your video later on. It has our Reflection pass. There's the Tuesday reflecting off the floor, our Ambient pass, a little bit of extra ambient effect around the edges of the text, but now we have precomps for each of our lights.
There's the top light, there's the key + shadow light and there is the side fill light. Notice that they're each different colors. This gives us a lot of flexibility. I'm going to lock this window down. I'm going to create a View>New Viewer and drag it off to the side here, so I've got two comps side-by-side and we'll just go ahead and scale as necessary, so we can see them both at the same time. There. And now we'll start looking at our individual lights, double-click.
This is the composition for our top light. There's the Shadow's contribution. There's the Specular, which you don't really get to see since it's off at the top of the wall, and there's the lights contribution. As you see, as I turn off the Diffuse in that lights precomp, that yellow light disappears from our final comp on the left. There it is with just the key light and the fill light and there's with it on. The really cool thing about this is I can really start playing around the individual parameters.
Let's say I don't like that color of yellow. Since that light is isolated in this precomp, I can go ahead and apply an effect to the colorization of the Diffuse Channel of just this light. I will go to Color Correction. I will go ahead and pick something very simple like Hue/Saturation and as I play around with the Master Hue, maybe you get something into a little cooler of a blue look, you'll see how the Master Render changes, just that lights contribution has changed.
It's very important and it's very cool, by the way. I didn't have to re-render anything in 3D. I'll go back up and double-click my key+shadow. I might think my shadow density is a bit too much there, so I can type T for Transparency, back it off to be a less intense shadow, maybe around there, and you'll see the shadow is reduced in my final composite. And like we did earlier, if I wanted to, I could even colorize that shadow by applying tint and changing the black part of that shadow. I'll go back and open up my side fill.
This has yet a different color. I basically like it, but maybe I want to kick it up a little bit, make it a little bit more saturated. So I'm going to go ahead and pick that Diffuse Channel again, go underneath Effect, get Hue/Saturation, maybe increase the Saturation a little bit and now I've got a little more contribution in the final. And if I don't like how the light fall off work or how the middle grays work, I can even go apply an Effect like Color Correction>Levels and play with the Histogram to maybe boost up the middle grays for that light, and there's its contribution in the final.
Very cool. I can re-blend my lights and the characteristics of each light separately without going back into 3D. This will save you so much time and frustration, when you're trying to get that final 10% or even 1% out of a render to make it look good. I'll go ahead and go back to my main comp here and I can still play around with things like how much reflection that I have, pull it out, put it back in, even apply an Effect like Blur and Sharpen> Fast Blur and give me soft, just a little bit of a soft reflection.
I'll close this comp for now, and I'll get back to my full view. And that's how you can change the final composite of your render without having to go back into a 3D program. Again, very powerful.