The Perception Guide to FUI: Using Takes and Tokens to Help Organize Large Renders

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See how Cinema 4D's Takes and Tokens can be used to generate special passes and organize FUI scenes

In this tutorial, Doug Appleton (VFX Director at Perception) walks through the takes and tokens system and goes over workflow best practices to help you organize your renders when dealing with more complex FUI elements. You'll learn how to set up basic Takes in Cinema 4D (R18+) and a special technique using Override Groups to generate a custom RGB matte pass. An RGB pass containing Fresnel, Ambient Occlusion and Noise comes in handy in compositing. You'll also learn how to render multiple takes, with automatic naming via Tokens.



Hi, I'm Doug Appleton, and I'm the Visual Effects Director here at Perception. And in this tutorial we're going to talk a bit about the takes and the token system, and how we can use those to help you organize some your larger renders a little better. Particularly we're talking about these FUI designs, we have a lot of these little, noodly pieces that we're going to want control over all of those in our render, and takes and tokens really help us organize that. So let's get started. So click on our Takes. I just want to drag this down here so we can see things a little better. The first thing you're going to notice is how each one of these layers up here gets its own take. So we have our headphones, the wireframe, and that's just going to render out a wireframe. We have the spheres, our soundwaves one and two, we have that outerRing, this dotGrid, this soundwave_Circle, this outerCylinder thing, which gets this kind of noisy thing in this extra pass, which is pretty cool, and we'll talk about that in a minute. So let's make ourselves a new take, and we'll make an RGB pass, just so we can see how easy it is to set up one of these takes. So we want to go to New Take, let's rename this RGB_01. Again it's important to name your things properly. So that's an RGB pass, so we name it RGB_01. Then we want to go up to an override group, we want to make four of those. And you can do this by turning on your auto-take over here, and then replacing the materials on each one. But since we have a lot of little materials in there, I think doing the override group is the way to go since you can get all of them in one shot. Let's rename this group Hidden, that's where we're going to put everything that we don't want rendering in this take. So we'll rename this one R, that's going to be our red, G for green, B for blue. And not hidden, we're going to select everything that's not our headphones, and then we just drag that into Hidden, and then we'll go over here and turn off our visibility and turn off our rendering. For RGB, we want to make new materials for our R, G, and B, for red, green, and blue. So let's go into our main. Around here we'll make a new material, it's just going to be luminance, it's going to be solid red, and we'll name that R. Duplicate that, then this one G for green, this one is just going to be solid green. And then we'll name this one B, for blue. And this one will just be solid blue. So let's go back into our RGB take right here, and on red we want to go to our group tag, and this is going to add overrides to this, so we have texture, compositing, display, and so on. We want texture, so I'll turn that on for all three of those. And then all I have to do is drag our new material on top of those textures. So for our red, we're going to want this guy, the headphone jack right there, we're going to go into our... I'll just press that, grab the plug, put it on the R. For G we want the cord, so I'll grab those two and just drag them down into that group. And then for B, what you'll notice, it's going to be a little bit different here. So let's grab the group, and I'll see what I'm talking about. So we'll drop the two groups, drop it into B, and you'll see nothing changes, nothing happened here, and that's because what's going on is it's actually just taking the null itself, it's not taking anything inside of the null into this group. So you're going to have to select everything, select children, and drag that down into B. And now you'll see all the geometry and everything gets put into that group, and now we have our override working. And as you're doing this, you'll notice you see this little T next to your material over here. What that's doing is telling you that the take is overriding that material, and whatever materials you have on there. And you'll see the same thing if you do let's say a composting tag, you'll see that T next to your compositing tag. And that's just letting you know that the take is overriding the compositing tag. Just delete these guys since we don't need them for this one. Let's go down here to our take itself, and you'll see these options that we have next to it. This first one, probably one of my favorite new things. This allows us to mark a take that we want to render. So let's say we're only working on these three things, we don't have to rerender everything, we can just rerender the ones that we're currently working on. So this guy is the Render Marked Takes to Picture Viewer, we have Render All Takes, Render Marked Takes, Team Render All Takes, and Team Reneder Marked Takes. And it's just really powerful because it lets us make changes to one thing or add one thing, and only rerender that, we don't have to rerender every single layer. This next one is camera overrides. We only have one camera in this scene, but I still have to set my camera overrides to the proper camera that we're rendering with, and that's just because if we're moving around in the scene and doing something else in a different camera, when we go back to our layer we're right back to the proper render cam, and it's just nice that we don't have to, I guess, pay attention to what camera that we are currently looking through when we hit Render on the scene. Next to that we have our render setting overrides, we'll see we have nothing set on here, but if we go up to wireframe, we have an override set to wireframe, and that's just a render setting that I made, which all it's really doing is just a Sketch and Toon layer, so we can get a wireframe out. But we can set that up in our overrides, so again we don't have to make a separate scene to render out a different pass that we would want. While we have this open, let's take a look at tokens. Tokens are going to be these guys here at the end that have the dollar sign and the abbreviation. So we have $prj$take. You can also get to those over here, clicking on any one of these will add that to the end of your file path. And what's great about these is that you no longer have to set up a full file path before you render out your file, all you have to do is set up a main path, mine's rendering to a RENDERS folder, and then Cinema is going to take care of the rest. And you can see what this looks like. We go into my renders, we have our token for project, and that's going to name it either project_v002, or v003. Then inside of there it makes a folder for your take, dotGrid, extras, headphones, and you'll see how these match all the names of the takes that I've done. And then once we're inside of one of those folders, it's then naming our file, the take, and then project. So you can see this one is wireframe_headphones_version number. And this is great, so I no longer have to go through and rename every file path every time I want to render something, Cinema is going to take care of that whole thing, and it's going to version up all of my folders and my file names to the proper version file it came from, and it's just an awesome way to help organize your stuff better. Finally, let's talk about the extras pass that I made. The extras pass, it's a cool material that is basically just a layered texture in a luminance channel, and it's going to give us a fresnel in the R channel, AO in the green channel, and then just a noise texture that I put in there on the blue channel. So we'll open up our material. Let's go back to main so we can change things. Let's look at our luminance here, you can see just a layered material, you click on that, and here we have three folders, an R, G, and a B folder, they're added on top of each other. I'll just show you what's in here real quick, there's a solid color and the fresnel, and then a solid color green, an ambient occlusion, and a solid color, and the noise, and those are also two layer masks on those colors. We'll make one real quick so you can see how it's done. Let's put in the color, it will make this one red. And then let's put a fresnel in there, move that below, set that to Layer Mask, and then you can see this is set up the same exact way as the three other ones. So you do that for each color, and then add them on top. And what you get is this cool pass. I should have this open in my picture viewer somewhere...there we go. You have this cool looking pass, kind of looks like a fun, normals pass. You can see when we go over here, let's go under Filter, you can see in each channel, in our red channel we have a fresnel, in our green channel we have the AO, now, and in the blue channel we have noise. And this is a good way to just consolidate some of these into a single layer, so you don't have to have also a fresnel and also an AO and also a noise. I don't always make this material, but I do from time to time when I know I'm going to a lot of different passes, I like to just get it out there. I might not use it, but it's nice to have. So once you have all your stuff rendered, pull into your compositing software of choice, you can see here we're using After Effects. I'm not going to get into the specifics of how I composited this to get this final look, but we'll attach the After Effects project and the Cinema file so you guys can dig through all this stuff. But the important thing to see here is all of our layers split out on the side over here. So we have our extras, we have our headphones and spheres. It gives us a lot of control in composite when everything's broken out like this, so you can really get the look that you're going for. So that's our look at the takes and token system in Cinema. I hope you guys learned something. I hope you all start using this really, really powerful addition to Cinema. Thanks.
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