Cineware Party, Part 02: Creating Text

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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  • Duration: 14:23
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  • Made with Release: 14
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Main interface overview. Create text and add a material.

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 create text using the Text Spline primitive and Extrude NURBS object. You'll learn the basics of camera navigation and discover the most important parts of the CINEMA 4D interface, such as the Attribute Manager, Object Manager and Material Manager. While setting up a material for the text, you'll see how to apply a Fresnel effect and adjust the specular highlight on an object.

This tutorial includes the project files for the entire series. The footage is not included in order to keep the download small. Just use your own favorite party footage.



- To get started creating our Party scene, the first thing we're going to do is create our text. But we want to start first by creating a new After Effects project. Because we're going to start directly in with Cinema 4D Lite, we just want to go ahead and create a new Maxon Cinema 4D file. We'll go ahead and call this "Party Lite Tutorial. C4D", and you'll notice that as soon as I save that file Cinema 4D Lite automatically launches with the scene file that we created. We're going to dig deeper into how to create the environment and lighting for this scene in a later tutorial, because I want to jump right in with how to create some objects. But I also want the full environment so that as we're creating these elements you'll be able to see what they're actually going to look like when we render them through Adobe After Effects. So let's start by merging in the final environment. To do that, we'll go to File, Merge, and choose Party-Lite-001-Environment. C4D, and hit Open. Merge is basically just the same as Import. What we're doing is pulling in an existing Cinema 4D file into this Cinema 4D file. You can see here that we've got basically a floor and some planes to make up our room and our lighting. Again, we'll look at that a little deeper later. Now, to navigate your Cinema 4D scene, you can go a couple different ways. One is you can use these icons above the viewport, and you can see that if I click and drag with this one here I can rotate around to place my camera. You can also drag the mouse with the Alt key pressed, much like you can in After Effects. So if I hold down the Alt key and left-drag, I'll be able to rotate my camera , and if I middle-drag, I'll move my camera, and if I right-drag, I'll dolly the camera in or out. Now, one difference with Cinema 4D is that what you dolly around when you use the Alt key is based on where you click your cursor. So you'll see that when I click my cursor, I get a little crosshair and what that means is that I'm currently dollying around that polygon that's in the back of the scene. If I were to click down here, I would actually be dollying around this point here at the bottom of the scene. This is one of the benefits of having a full 3D environment. It makes it easier to rotate and navigate around specific 3D objects. So let's jump in and create our text. To do that, we're going to go in and choose a text spline primitive and down here in the Attributes Manager we're going to type in your text. The Attributes Manager shows us all of the attributes for the selected object. You can see right above the Attributes Manager we have the Object Manager, and this shows the actual objects in the scene. So down here in the Attributes Manager, I'm going to change the text to say "Party". Now of course, the text object has a lot of additional attributes. For instance, we can choose the font and sometimes the first time you click this it'll take a second, because what it's doing is it's parsing through all of the fonts in your system and creating a preview for you. We'll choose a nice blocky font, maybe like Arial Black, and you can adjust the height of your text. We'll go ahead and make this about twice as tall, and we're going to of course need to dolly our camera back. We're also going to want to add just a little bit of horizontal spacing. That helps to space each of the letters out a little bit and make sure that we're not going to have any overlapping elements once we go ahead and build our extrusion and caps. We want to go ahead and move this down so that it's on the floor. So we'll go ahead and go into our Coordinates Manager here and type "Y equals -200", and you'll see that it just moves right down towards the floor. Again, we can adjust our camera position just a little bit to line up and get a closer view or a more appropriate view of that text. Now, what we want to do is turn this 2D spline data into an actual 3D object, and the way we do that is using the Extrude Nurbs. This menu right here, with the green objects, the first green object menu, is our procedural spline generators. So you have things like the Extrude Nurbs, which extrudes a spline. Lathe will lathe the spline. We'll look at that a little bit later. All of these green objects in Cinema 4D work by generating geometry based on the object that's underneath them in the hierarchy. So let me show you how that works. If I go ahead and add an Extrude Nurbs Object, and I'll drop my text on top of the Extrude Nurbs so that it becomes a child, so again we want to go ahead and make sure that we have that down-facing arrow in the Object Manager, and now the text becomes a child of the Extrude Nurbs. So the Extrude Nurbs is generating 3D geometry based on the spline that we have there as its child. Now, in the Extrude Nurbs, we also have attributes that we can change, and what we want to do is go ahead and make this text much chunkier. We're going to go ahead and make it like 230 units in Z deep. So that's 230 units thick. We also want to go in and play with our caps. The caps are the portion on the front and the back. The extrusion itself is the depth here. The cap we can go ahead and ad some rounding to, for instance. So we'll go ahead and choose Fillet Cap for both the start and the end. We want to go ahead and increase the number of steps here, because that will allow us to have a more gradual transition from the one to the other. So this is basically the subdivision of your rounding. If you only have one step, it doesn't matter what fillet type you have. It's always going to look like a straight rounding. So you need multiple steps in order to actually see that rounding happen. We're also going to increase the radius of the rounding itself. I'm going to go up to 10 units on both the front and the back, and you can adjust the fillet type here too. You've got an option here for Convex as the default. You can choose Concave. We also have Half Circle, One-Step, Two-Step, Engraved. I'm going to go ahead and go with Convex here for this scene, and so now we have 3D text. So the next thing we want to do is actually add a material to this text to bring it out of the background just a little bit. Now, you'll remember we still use a very gray material, and kind of have it pop out of the background based on the lighting. But we do still want to add a material onto this text so that we can adjust how the surface is actually going to appear. So to do that, we need to create a new material down here in the Material Manager. This shows a swatch for all of the materials that you have in your scene, and you can see that we already have two here that were imported in with our environment. So we need to create a new one for our text, and we can do that either by choosing Create New Material or the easy way to do it is to simply double-click inside the Material Manager. That creates a new material, and you can see it over here in the Attribute Manager. Personally, I like to edit my materials in the Dedicated Material Editor, and you can get that by double-clicking on any material. So in the Material Editor, we're going to jump into the Color channel first and that's where you set the color of your object. Actually, this 204, 204, 204, this light gray, that'll work pretty well for this. So we're just going to leave that. Next, we want to add just a little bit of a reflection so that you'll see just a little bit of the balloons and confetti reflected into the text. So we'll go ahead and check the box here next to Reflection, and that will automatically make this channel active. Now, by default, the color for a reflection is white with full brightness, so that's fully reflective. If I drop the brightness down to zero, we actually don't have any reflection again. So we want to be somewhere here around 5% or 10%, so we have just a little hint of reflection. We can also add an effect called a Fresnel shader, which will allow us to adjust the amount of reflection based on the angle between the camera and the surface. Most of the time when you use reflection or transparency you're going to add a Fresnel effect, because most surfaces are more reflective and less transparent as you view them from an angle than they are when you view straight on. So to add a Fresnel effect, we click the triangle here next to the Texture attribute. Now, this is where you could add a bitmap texture. But if you click the triangle here, you also have access to procedural shaders and these are basically effects that have already been programmed, where you just adjust the parameters and you get a specific effect or surface. So we're going to choose Fresnel here and if we click here on the Fresnel button, you'll see that what it basically is, is just a gradient. What this is basically saying is use white or full reflectance when the camera is very oblique to the surface, or when the camera is looking sort of sideways at the surface, and use black or not reflective when the camera is looking straight at the surface. So if we adjust this gradient, you can see that we can make things less reflective straight on, or we can make things more reflective at a greater angle or closer to straight on. So we're just going to leave this gradient just like it is by default, and you can click this up arrow here in the Material Editor to get back to the Reflection channel. Now, what this Fresnel shader has done is overridden all of what we set here, as far as the very slight brightness in the channel. So we need to adjust the mix strength here, and you can see that as I drag this down, I'm pulling less of the Fresnel in and getting more of this virtually black, no reflective into the material. So we actually want this to be at about 35%. So we're getting just a little bit of the Fresnel effect, but overall it's a very subtle reflection. The last thing we want to set up in this surface is the Specular, and that's already enabled by default in all materials in Cinema 4D. Specular is the way the surface is going to react to light. So by adjusting the Specular, we're basically changing how shiny it is. Now in this case, we want to bring the base width of the Specular down just a little bit so that it's a little bit sharper. We're going to leave the height or overall shininess of the Specular about the same at just 20%. Finally, we want to increase the inner width of the Specular to widen the whole thing up a little bit. The inner width is the portion that isn't affected by the curve. So the Specular is a bell curve by default, and the inner width is sort of chopping off that curve. So we've got a nice even, flat specular here, and that's basically our text material. We can click right here in this box underneath the preview and rename this Text, and then we'll go ahead and close the Material Editor. Now, you've created that material, but it still has to be applied to the object and to do that you simply drag and drop either onto the object within the scene, or directly onto the object in the Object Manager. Now you can see that the viewport preview has shown us that that gray texture we created is a little bit lighter than the overall environment, so the "Party" text will stand out a little bit more. You can do a test render in Cinema 4D to see what it looks like now by clicking on this icon right here, with the clapboard and the red outline, or orange outline. There we can see that we've got our nice text, just a little bit wide, a little reflective, nice shadow in the environment, and that's basically what it's going to look like as well when we jump into After Effects and render it through Cineware. Let's go ahead and save our scene at this point, and in the next tutorial we're going to look at how to use some of Cinema 4D's Mograph features to easily add some animation to this text.
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