Cinema 4D to Element 3D Workflow: Prep Drone Model & Materials for export to AE & Elements 3D

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Instructor Vic Garcia

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Prep drone to export from Cinema 4D to Element 3D.

In this lesson, you will prepare the drone model to be exported from Cinema 4D to Element 3D. You will use CV-SmartExport to quickly export all our separate groups out of Cinema 4D and import them into Element 3D.



In this lesson, we'll prep the drone model to get it ready to export into Element 3D. We'll quickly export groups of components out separately using CV-Smart Export, then import all the objects back together inside of Element 3D. So we're almost ready to jump into Element 3D. One thing we need to do is we have this texture that we created in the last lesson. Right now, it's set up as a TIF file, or in TIF format, which is the default format that BodyPaint saves into. We need to convert this into either a JPEG or a PNG, that way Element 3D can read it. So what we're going to do is just have the Propeller material selected. Go up to File and the Texture Panel, and let's go to Save As, and let's go to PNG. Let's go ahead and save this out, and we'll save it out as Propeller_Color2. I already have 1 saved out, so I'm going to click on Yes. As soon as you do that, you'll see that that automatically linked to the PNG file. So we're set up to go there. It's not reflecting here, but it is already linked. If we double-click on it again, you'll see that that is the PNG file. So now, let's go ahead and jump into the startup layout. So we're going to export out everything except for these three grayed out propellers. One thing I want to do is I want to move this one propeller set over here to the left side, and that's because of the way this propeller is shaped. We have to rotate this propeller. Let me go ahead and select the Move tool and the Rotate tool. We want to make sure it rotates this way, because that's the way the blade needs to rotate in order to create lift. So right now, if it's on this side, we can't really have that rotation because the propeller needs to rotate towards the body. This is incorrect right now. So we'll move it to this side, that way we can rotate it this way. You'll see what I mean once I get that. So I'm going to go ahead and grab the coordinates for this one, so we can just copy this one over. Let me select Propeller.1, and let's copy X, Y, and Z. Let's copy that, and let's paste it on this other propeller. Let me just right-click here and paste it. Let's get rid of these three propellers. So now, if we select the propeller, it'll rotate towards the body and that's the correct rotation. So we'll leave it there. Now, to export this out, we could technically import this entire scene into Element 3D as is, and it'll come in as one file. But then, we have to create all the separations inside of Element 3D. We've already done a lot of the organization here in Cinema 4D. Things are grouped out and they're nicely organized. So we're going to take advantage of that, that way we don't have to create that much separation in Element 3D. We'll save some time. So what we're going to do is I'm going to use this really nice plugin from Cineversity. It's called CV-Smart Export. You can get it via CV Toolbox. So if you don't have that, I highly recommend it. I'm going to go up to Plugins. Go down and grab it. I'm going to select the options here. So CV-Smart Export, let's bring this up, and I want to export top level objects as files, which means it's going to export out these groups into their own separate Cinema 4D file. So that's going to be the selection. I don't have to have Selected Only turned on, because I want everything in here to be exported out. Again, they're going to be exported out as Cinema 4D files with the name of these groups. So we don't need anything else checked. This is for baking purposes. Down here, if we wanted to save out textures in a separate Texture folder, we can have Save Assets clicked. I don't want that, because all this is already linked up to your own textures in our Texture folder. So with Selected Only deselected and Top Level checked, I'm going to go ahead and press OK. It's going to take us here where our Texture folder is. That's where we want it to save. I'm going to give this a prefix name, so I'm just going to name it "Drone." Cinema 4D or CV-Smart Export will export out the prefix with an underscore. Let's go ahead and save this out. Once we do that, we can go ahead and bring up the Drone folder, and here is what we get. So all these pieces, as you can see, they are named with the Drone_ prefix, and they're named accordingly with the group name. So there we go. Now, we can just go ahead and jump into After Effects, and I'm going to create a new composition. We'll call this "Drone_Element." Click OK, and then let's go up to Layer, New, Solid, or you can just press Ctrl+Y. I'm going to call this "Solid Element," and let's press OK. Let's go up to Effect, and down to Video Co-Pilot, Element 3D, and let's go into the scene setup. Here's the Element 3D UI. So we're going to go ahead and import those four Cinema 4D files that were created. Shift+click to select them all, and then click on Open. Then, just go ahead and press OK, and it's going to go ahead and bring them all in. So there they are. Now, they're coming in all jumbled up. I am just scrolling with the middle mouse button to zoom in. We can left-click to tumble, and we can click down on the middle mouse button to pan around. So they're coming in all jumbled up. Let me go ahead and select each one of these here in our scene panel. I'm going to start with the drone body. Go down to our options here. For the alignment, I'm going to select From Model Center to From Model, and that's going to put it in position the way it was in Cinema 4D. Do the same to everything else. Select this one. Let's go to From Model. We could've done this in the Import dialog box that popped up. There's an option to change all of these. So I'm just doing it here in the scene panels. So let's change this alignment to From Model. That one jumps in place, and then the propeller, you'll then click on From Model. So right now, as you can see in our scene panel, we have the groups. A lot of the work is already done for us since we organized this in Cinema 4D. We have our shaders in here, and if we take a look at the propeller, the propeller right now, are pivot points here in the center. So we need to bring that pivot point up here to the top. So the way to do that is by, instead of being in this material or shader view, we can go here to the mesh view. Now, once we do that, if we open up the propeller, instead of seeing shaders, now we have access to our geometry. So this is really nice. We're going to take advantage of this, so we can go ahead and move things around and rotate things. So our propeller right now, as you can see, we have a nice center pivot point and we can rotate this. That's going to come in handy. So how do we duplicate this? A couple options. We can either duplicate these by hand, or we can take advantage of group folders. Group folders are really nice. They serve a few purposes, one of them being they serve as a way to mirror objects across. So let's do that. Let's create a new group, and let's call this group "Propellers." Press OK, and let's grab this drone propeller and let's put this inside the group. Once we do that, let's click on the group folder for the propellers, and let's go all the way down for our options. We see that there is a group symmetry. If we click on X for the symmetry axis, we're going to get a clone here on the other side. This is nice, because now if we select the propeller, which is this one here on the left, if we rotate it, they both rotate. So it's just like a clone in essence, in Cinema 4D. It's really nice to have this feature. Now, what's really cool is that now I can go back down to the propeller group back to Group Symmetry, and if I click on Z, now we get the other side. Let me change the color of the environment, and let's make this the Y color to get a better view. So now, let's lock the propeller, and let's rotate it. Now, we have three other propellers created very fast, and we can just animate this one control, one propeller, and we get all four moving. Again, as I said earlier, these propellers are going to go this way. They're going to rotate towards the body of the drone. So let me do that rotation, and before we move on we come in and one thing we need to do is link up where [it bump maps. The bump maps, I'm not sure if it's a bug or not. Maybe it isn't. It does not link up when you import it. The color maps get all linked up, but the bump map does not. I believe that's because if we go to our shaders now... Let me click on our little Shader icon here. Let me open the camera. We could also select the Shader down here. I'm just going here through the scene panel. Let me select the camera case. So Element 3D has, under Textures, there's a normal bump. I believe that if we create a normal one that this may come in and be attached automatically. But because we created a bump map, it doesn't read it. But we can go in here, though, and we can load up the texture. Here's the texture, and let's grab the camera bump map. Then, make sure that Convert Bump Map is checked on and press OK. Then, the bump map will show up. I'll go in and link up the other bump maps here in a little bit after this lesson. That way I don't have to make you watch me do that. So one thing I wanted to show you is how to quickly change some of these shaders. This glass here is not transparent right now. We can change that. So I'm going to go down here and select Glass Lens, which is our shader for that. Go all the way down to Advanced and we can dial down the force of passing somewhere to about 50. Then, we can go up to Reflection and dial the reflection up. That looks a lot better for the glass. Then, the material for the camera swivel component is pretty dull at the moment. Let's give it some reflection. Let's make this look more like metal. So I'm going to select the Camera Rig shader, and let's go ahead and bring the Reflectivity up to about 55, and then go up to Glossiness. Dial this down to about 55 also. That gives this a nice brushed metal look. Then, the shocks, these little white components here, select those and bring the reflectivity up just a tad. The glossiness, let's bring that down also. Everything looks pretty good. In here, I'm seeing that there's no back faces for some of these components. So what I'm going to do is go ahead and select the Propeller Top shader, which is the shader for this little tip or the capsule here on top, and this base. Let's go all the way down to Advanced and select Back Faces. There we go. So now, those back faces are showing. We'll do the same for the bottom shell. This one also needs Back Faces turned on and the top shell. So let's select the Top Shell shader and click on that. There we go. I can see that the propellers right now are a little offset here. We need to move the main propeller. So I'm going to select that. Let me go ahead into Mesh View. Grab the propeller, the tip, and the propeller base, and I'm going to press W on the keyboard and move it just to the left of it. So now, it's centered a lot better. We can do that move that I just did. There we go. So everything else looks pretty good. I'm pretty happy with that result. So in the next lesson, we'll start rigging.
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