Cineware Party, Part 07: Cineware and Multipass Setup

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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Discover how to add C4D footage to your composite and adjust settings using the Cineware effect

Explore the exciting possibilities with the new live 3D pipeline in the next Adobe After Effects. In this tutorial series, you'll learn how to create a motion graphics piece in CINEMA 4D Lite and composite and render it through Cineware in Adobe After Effects.

In this tutorial you'll learn how to integrate CINEMA 4D scenes into After Effects. You'll see the different options in the Cineware effect, and how to work with multiple passes within After Effects. You'll learn how to extract cameras, lights and solids from the 3D scene and use those to incorporate video in After Effects. Finally, you'll see how easy it is to change your scene in CINEMA 4D Lite and instantly update your entire composite without ever hitting the render button.



- So now let's jump back into After Effects and take a closer look at the Cineware effect. You're going to want to make sure to save your scene, and then switch into After Effects. The Party-Lite-Tutorial.c4d file should already be in your After Effects project, because it was added automatically when you created a new Maxon Cinema 4D file. You can always import a Cinema 4D footage item simply by double-clicking and choosing any C4D file on the disk, and those will be imported just as any other footage item. We have this one here already in After Effects for us, and I'm going to go ahead and just create a new comp by dragging the footage item right down onto the New Comp button. Now, what we see here is a software shaded version of the scene, which looks very much like the Cinema 4D viewport. This is very useful in order to get a quick overview of the Cinema 4D scene. Especially if you want to adjust your cameras in After Effects, it keeps things very interactive and fast within After Effects, because you're not performing a full render. When you're in Software mode, you can display a shaded view, or you can also display just the wireframes or boxes. Obviously, as you move down to Wireframe and Box, the performance increases. I'm going to leave it at Shading, because this scene is pretty fast and we can interact with it just fine, even in Shading mode. Now, we're going to jump over some of the other render settings here and go back to them in just a minute. I want to go down and look at the camera options here. You can see that right now, we're using the Cinema 4D camera and this is whichever camera was active when you saved the Cinema 4D file. So you can see that we last created and activated our animated camera. So we're getting our animated camera move here in Cineware. I can choose the Select Cinema 4D Camera option and click this button here, and actually select another camera that's already set up in the Cinema 4D scene file. So we can, for instance, choose the main camera and now you can see that we're just looking through that static camera. We don't have the animation on the camera anymore, because we're using the first camera that we didn't animate. Now, one thing that's really handy is that you can actually just use the After Effects camera. So if I go in and create a new After Effects camera, I'm just going to accept the defaults here, select my Cineware layer, and I can choose either a centered comp camera or a comp camera. Both of these will use the camera that's set up in After Effects. The main difference is that the comp camera is just the main default After Effects camera. But the centered comp camera adjusts the camera before it sends it to Cinema 4D to recenter the origin at 000, and that makes it a little bit easier to work with the Cinema 4D file. Generally, you're going to want to use this one, the centered comp camera, if you are setting up cameras. But you're going to want to use the non-centered comp camera, the just normal comp camera, if you are using the camera in conjunction with other effects, especially if you're using the camera tracker. I'm going to choose the centered comp camera here, just to show you how this works, and now I can activate the C key and move around the scene just using the normal After Effects camera tools. So you can see that even though this footage is a 2D item, it's not a 3D item, we're able to push the camera back into Cinema 4D and you get fairly good interactivity in moving around the 3D scene within After Effects. You can even animate this camera. So I can for instance say we'll start right there, and we'll go ahead and key frame the position and the orientation, and we'll go ahead and move to a different frame and once again key frame the position. Now you can see that we get a nice animated After Effects camera. Now, if you've set up a camera in After Effects, a lot of times it's helpful or necessary to push that camera back into Cinema 4D. That's easy to do by selecting your Cineware layer and simply choosing the Merge button here to merge the comp camera back into the Cinema 4D scene. So if I do that, you'll get a dialog here that says that it was merged. If we go back into Cinema 4D Lite and if we revert this file to the save format just to get it to refresh, you'll see down here that we have AE Camera 1. So that's our camera merged in from After Effects. We'll go back into After Effects and I'm just going to switch this back to the Cinema 4D camera, because I like that camera animation that I already had set up there. Let's look at a few of the other render settings here in the Cineware layer. I'm also going to go ahead and delete the After Effects camera. First of all, there's a couple of different render methods here. There's the Standard (Draft) method, which simplifies the final render, eliminating any aliasing and reflections, and some other effects in order to give you a much faster representation of the final render. So this is an actual representation of the render, just simplified. Then of course, you have the Final Standard option, which gives you the full reflections and any aliasing as you'll have for your final render. Down here, you have the option to turn on No Pre-calculation. This option is really handy, because it speeds up the general playback within After Effects. The only time where you really need pre-calculation is if you have particles or some sort of an effect that builds on itself throughout the scene. In that case, you may need to even cache that. But certainly, pre-calculation is a good idea in those cases. We don't have any particle systems going on here. We really don't need any pre-calculation, because every frame is independent of the previous frame. There's also the option here to keep textures in RAM, and that's often a really good option to check. What that option does is it stores the Cinema 4D textures in the RAM cache so that it doesn't have to keep pulling those up every time it renders a frame through After Effects. Especially if you have large textures, this can make a big difference in the render speed and you're only trading a little bit of RAM in exchange for a lot of speed. Another helpful performance tip is that Cinema 4D Layers will actually honor the resolution setting here. So if you set this down to Half, Third, or Quarter it will actually down res the render, and you'll get a much faster render performance in that case. So you'll notice that throughout this tutorial my viewport's at 50%. So I'm just working at Half. For the final render, of course, you're going to want to make sure that you're rendering at Full. So that's another key workflow and performance tip. As we continue looking down some of these other Cineware options here, we have the option to isolate individual layers. So if I check this button here and choose Set Layers, we can choose the layers in the Cinema 4D file that we want to show. So for instance, if I want to just remove that video wall, I can just uncheck it here and now it's gone. If I want to get just the balloons with the environment, I can do that as well. So this gives you a lot of flexibility, because you can add as many Cineware layers as you want and layer them on top of each other. So you can actually have multiple layers of the Cinema 4D scene. It's important to realize that when you do this, you're actually forcing multiple renders of the Cinema 4D scene for each Cineware layer. So you may slow things down a little bit by using the Cinema 4D Layers option. But it does give you a lot of flexibility to get multiple different renders out of a single Cinema 4D scene. Next, we have the option to dive into the multipass channels of Cinema 4D and these give you a lot of flexibility in After Effects without necessarily forcing additional renders in the background. To access the multi-passes, you need to activate this Cinema 4D Multipass checkbox here, and you can choose the Set Multipass button to say what each Cineware layer represents, or what pass to pull for each Cineware layer. So for instance, we can pull just the Diffuse pass, or we can pull just the Shadow pass, or we can get just the mask here for the video wall. You can see that that name that we set up in the render settings is going to show up here. If you have a lot of multipasses that you've already set up, what's really handy is that you can activate the Defined Multipasses checkbox here, and then click the Add Image Layers button. That will automatically pull in any of the multipasses that you've set up in the Cinema 4D render settings with the proper transform modes applied. Any data channels or things like that, like the video wall mask, are just going to show up underneath all of the image layers, and you can put them in the right spot later. One thing to keep in mind is that when you're using multiple passes, you actually need to set After Effects into Linear Workflow. So we click right here in the 8 Bit Per Channel button, or we go to Project Settings, Ctrl+Alt+Shift+K, and we switch the working space into sRGB and turn on the Linearize option. Notice right now that things are kind of blown out and everything, and once I click Okay you'll see that they actually look more like they're supposed to again. You do get some banding though, and to eliminate that what you need to do is switch After Effects into 16 Bit Per Channel or 32 Bit Per Channel mode. So linearizing your working space is just necessary, because Cinema 4D works in a linear fashion. So you need to tell After Effects to work that way too. If you're not working with multiple passes though, it's not necessary to switch into Linear mode. When you are working with linear passes, you can do interesting things like take your reflection and drop the opacity down, for instance, because you just decide you don't want it quite so reflective. Or you can duplicate your Shadow pass to really buff up the shadows and make them more apparent in the scene. So there's lots of flexibility here that you can do in After Effects without jumping back to the Cinema 4D scene. Let's next look at what we can do with that video wall that we set up. There's a button here that allows us to extract the Cinema 4D scene data. If I click that, what you'll see is that we get all of the cameras from the Cinema 4D scene, as well as the solid that we set up for the video wall and the two lights that are in the scene. This is really handy, because I can actually now pull in video footage in After Effects and integrate it into my 3D scene with the scene lighting. So I'm going to go back to the Project pane. I'm going to import some footage, and I happen to have some footage here of my kid's birthday party. That's Mackenzie and Zachary, and their birthdays are nine days apart so they get to share birthday parties. I'm going to drop this down into our comp. Now, this I do want to make a 3D layer, because our solid is a 3D layer and I want it to actually be placed in the same position as that video wall, following any animation that might be present on it. The best way to do that is to simply take the pick whip tool from the footage item and hold down the Shift key while you pick whip the solid. That's going to move the video right into the same place as the solid. Now we can go in and scale this up a little bit so that it fits in our screen, and I'm also going to go and take this mask that we created and drop it on top of my footage. Now, I need to go into my footage and set that as a Luma Matte, and now you can see that our video file is totally integrated into this 3D scene. Now, you could just add this footage as a texture in Cinema 4D. But the nice thing about doing it this way is it gives you a lot of flexibility in After Effects. If I decide that I don't like the framing of this footage item, I can easily just scale it and reposition it, for instance. We'll just go into the pointer tool here, and say we want to reframe this like so. I can even animate this footage layer. So we can go in and key frame the position here, and then, say, later in the scene we actually want to pull the footage over a little bit, like that. The other good benefit is that all of this works with the Hash Cache introduced in After Effects CS6. So if I need to replace that footage item, the actual 3D footage will not need to be re-rendered. I can simply import a new footage item. So we'll just take Mackenzie's first birthday here, and we'll Alt+drag to replace that with our original footage item. Now, we're not actually requiring After Effects to do additional renders on the frames that were already rendered. Now, let's say I need to make some more drastic changes, more than I could do with the simple adjustment of multipasses or adding video on solids. Let's say, for instance, that instead of this being a kid's birthday party, it's actually footage from the last Maxon Trade Show party. So we'll feed that in there. In this case, really, first of all, I don't know if I want to call it "Party" anymore. I may want to change the text, and also I just want a little bit more of an adult look. The balloons are kind of bright, and I think we could do a little bit to make this look a little bit more sophisticated. So in that case, all I need to do is select any of these Cineware layers, and I'll simply choose Edit Original. Cinema 4D Lite will open up with my scene, and I can go ahead and make the changes I want to make. So for instance, let's go into our main light here, and maybe we'll make it a bit more blue. These balloons, way too bright. So let's go in and adjust the colors of each of them. I'm going to go ahead and go into our color table, and we'll just choose some darker versions of all of the colors, make this look much more sophisticated. We'll go with... Let's do a dark purple there, and the red is pretty good already. We'll maybe make it a little darker. So now, all of our balloons are much darker. Our lighting has this nice blue look to it. Let's change our text too. Remember, this is all still live. So I can go right here to the text blind and maybe instead of saying "Party", let's call it a "Bash". So I just changed the text to "Bash". All my animation is still there, just the same as it was with "Party". Actually, let's put an exclamation point on it just for fun. I'm going to go ahead and save that scene, and we'll jump back into After Effects. Watch this. One quick render, all of our composite is all the same. But we've replaced all of that with our new lighting, our new balloon colors, and our new text. I can go back and forth between Cinema 4D and After Effects as many times as I need to, to get this scene just right before I send it out for the final render. So up to now, we've looked at the great results you can get with the Cinema 4D integration in Adobe After Effects. But it is important to remember that the Cineware layer supports many more features than Cinema 4D Lite. It supports almost everything that you can do in Cinema 4D Studio. So in the next set of tutorials, we're going to look at how we can actually continue building onto the same scene file, adding confetti and some dynamic effects to make a really, really cool final scene, all using Cineware and the Live 3D Pipeline with the next version of Adobe After Effects.
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