Cineware Party, Part 05: Creating the Video Wall

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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  • Duration: 15:21
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Create a Video Wall using Spline Mask, and set it up for compositing

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 a video wall using the Rectangle spline primitive and the Spline Mask object. You'll learn how to texture the rounding and cap portion of the screen separately, how to use the External Compositing tag to create a solid in After Effects, an how to create an object buffer or luma key for a specific object.



- So now we have our text created and animated, and textured. We've got our balloons created and animated, and textured. The one last element we want to add into this scene, into the Lite version of this scene is a video wall that we're going to put back, sort of way back in the background just to actually have some video going on in this scene. So first, we need to go ahead and create that video wall, and to do that we'll once again jump into a new scene. I always like to create new objects in new scenes, just because it makes it easier to focus on just that object, and then you can always copy and paste it into your working scene. So to do this, we're going to start with a rectangle profile. This is, again, one of the spline primitives that's provided in Lite, and we're going to go ahead and just click to add that. So now we have a rectangle, and we want this to basically represent the entire video screen. So we're going to go ahead and set it to a width of 1,600 and a height of 900. That way, we're sure we've got a 16 by 9 ratio. I'm going to go ahead and dolly the camera back so that you can see the whole thing, or you can just hit the H key and that'll also sort of frame your selected object. We're going to also add a little bit of rounding here too, just to make this video screen look a little more interesting. Now, what we want to do to add a little bit more interest is actually go ahead and make this into four separate panels, and to do that we need to go ahead and create some rectangles that are going to split the screen. So we're going to go ahead and create a new rectangle spline again, and this one we're going to make just about 80 units wide. We're going to go ahead and make the height somewhere around 1,200 or so. We just basically want it to be taller than our screen itself, the screen that we have here already. We're going to create one more rectangle. I'll just Ctrl+drag the rectangle we have here in the Object Manager, and that creates another duplicate. This one, we're going to want to make 80 units tall. But we're going to want to go ahead and drag out the width so that it's wider than the video screen. Now, what we're going to do is use a tool called the Spline Mask, and you find that here in the second group of green objects. These are generators as well, and the Spline Mask here is basically a Pathfinder operator for Cinema 4D. So if you're familiar with Pathfinder in Illustrator, it's basically the same thing. It does Boolean operations on splines. So I create the Spline Mask, and I'm going to take these two rectangles that I used to form this sort of cross shape, and I'm going to drop both of those under our Spline Mask. Again, we're looking for that down-pointing arrow, and you'll sort of see that those are now one object. So it took out the portion here, where they intercepted and that's because if you look here in the attributes the mode is A union B. In other words, A plus B, it's adding both of those objects together. Great. So next what we want to do is create another Spline Mask, because I want to take our video screen rectangle and subtract the cross shape. Now, again, what you're seeing now is the union of both of those shapes. If I select this top Spline Mask and I switch the mode from A union B to A subtract B, now I have four panels. Now, again, these are just 2D splines. I need to turn them into a 3D object, and we're going to use the Extrude Nurbs again for that. So we'll select the top Spline Mask, and hold down the Alt key while we add an Extrude Nurbs. You'll remember that the Alt key automatically makes that Extrude Nurbs a parent of the selected object. Now, we'll go ahead and leave this Extrude Nurbs at its default depth. But we want to go ahead and adjust our caps. So I'm going to change both of these start and end to fillet caps, and remember how I said we need steps here in order to be able to get a nicely subdivided and rounded profile. So I'm going to go ahead and use five steps in both cases. I'm going to make the radius for this profile fairly big. I'm going to use 20 units so that it's a nice and rounded shape. But I'm not just going to use the Convex fillet type. I'm actually going to go ahead and choose the Half Circle. So we get kind of a nice frame around each of our panels, a nice rounded frame around each of our panels, and then we have the inside portion here, where we can put our video. Okay? So we're going to go ahead and take this Extrude Nurbs and rename it "Video Wall", and we'll hit Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard. We're going to go ahead and paste it back into our project scene. We'll hit Ctrl+V to paste, and it's right there on the text at the origin right now. So we're going to need to move it back in space. I'm going to go ahead and switch to the Coordinates tab here, and I'm going to go ahead and drag the Z up and get an idea of how far back I want it there. We'll put it, I don't know, somewhere around there, 1,500 units in Z, and we're going to want to move it up as well to get out from under the ground. So we'll move it up to about 275, 300 units on Y. We also want to go ahead and take this video wall, and make it editable. That's just going to make it a lot easier to access the individual caps in After Effects so that we can add the video to them. So to make an object editable, you hit the C key. Or you can click the icon right here, on the upper left-hand corner of the interface, Make Editable. What that does is it takes all of our parametric options. So up until now, we could've moved all those splines and changed the whole look of the video wall. But now what we've done is we've locked it in. We've taken all of the parameters and turned them into polygons, and you can see that what this has actually created is a few objects. We had the video wall itself, we had the rounding portion on the front and the cap on the front, and we had the rounding portion on the back and the cap on the back. So what we want to do is go ahead and apply maybe just this light blue texture that we created to the video wall itself, and we'll get that nice light blue all over the frame and the extruded portion of the video wall. But the front face here is where we're going to put our video, and we could just leave this blue here and easily still replace the video in After Effects. But just so that we don't have to worry about that reflecting back into the scene, what I'm going to do is go ahead and create a new material. I'm just going to go ahead and switch the color here in the Attributes Manager really quickly, just into a flat black, and we're just going to call this "Screen". I'm just going to go ahead and drag that right onto cap one here, and now you can see that that video here area is now just black. So when we render, we've got our black video screen, our blue frame, and of course we've got our balloons and our text. Now, another thing that we need to do with this video wall is prepare it a little bit so that we can put new video on it in After Effects. Now, we could totally just put the video right into this Screen material here. It would animate and render fine. But it's a little bit more powerful to be able to use the video in After Effects, because then we can have a full comp that we can be modifying in After Effects and put the video there, and we'll see some of the power of that later. But for right now, what we're going to do is go ahead and set this up so that we get a solid in After Effects for our video wall. So I'm going to go ahead and select the video wall here, and we want to add a tag. You can add tags by right-clicking on the object in the Object Manager, and you can see here we have a menu of Cinema 4D tags. Now, what tags do is they modify objects in some way. We've already been using texture tags, because that's the type of tag that gets added when you apply a material to an object. It's how an object gets linked to a material. We have tags here that adjust the animation of objects, or the appearance of the object in the renderer. In this case, what we want to use is an External Compositing tag. That basically says that when we send this to an external compositor like After Effects, we want this object to be represented as an object in the compositor. So here in the attributes, we have an option to set the anchor point. We're just going to leave that at Center, and we have the option here to turn on Solid. Now, if you leave Solid disabled, it's just going to come in as a null. But I like activating Solid and setting the size to the same size as my object. Now remember, we set that video screen to be 1,600 by 900 units. So now, I'm going to get a nice red Solid right in After Effects to show me exactly where my video is going to go. Now, because we have these rounded edges, we're also going to need to add what's called an Object Buffer, and that's basically a mask for a specific object in the 3D scene. So what we want is just this cap portion, the front cap, as an Object Buffer, as a special mask so that we can mask out the video and not have it overlay the frame. So to do that, what we need to do is right-click on the cap and pull up the Cinema 4D tags and we're going to choose the Compositing tag here. Not the External Compositing tag, but the Compositing tag. And this allows you to affect how objects are rendered. In the Object Buffer tab here, we can simply enable the first checkbox and we'll leave the buffer set to number one. So what we're basically saying now is this object should be placed into a special mask, and we're going to give that mask a channel number of one. Okay? When we go into the render settings, we need to go ahead and add that mask into the render settings so that we can pull it out in Cineware. So in the render settings here, which again I got to just by clicking on the clapboard with the sprocket, we're going to go to the Multipass button and choose Object Buffer. You can see that by default, it just defaults to group one. So this is the first mask. It's the same buffer ID as we set up in the Compositing tag. Now, to make things a little bit easier to identify in After Effects, we can actually double-click on this Object Buffer text here and rename it. So I'm going to call this "Mask Video Wall". While we're here in the render settings, let's add a few more multipass channels. Multipass channels are not necessary with the Cineware workflow. However, they do give you the opportunity to tweak your scene a little bit more in After Effects. So we're going to go ahead and add the Diffuse channel, the Specular channel, the Shadow channel, and the Reflection channel and that's most of what we have going on in this scene. Diffuse is basically the color of everything without any lighting applied. The Specular is that shininess factor, the way the surfaces are reacting to the light. The Shadow is the actual shadows in the scene, and the Reflection is going to be any reflectivity that's going on in the scene. There are a few more passes, actually quite a few more passes. These appear above Atmosphere, or ending with Atmosphere are all of your image passes. So they are sometimes necessary in order to recreate the look of your scene from multiple passes. But in this case, we're not using any of these effects in our scene. So we don't need them. The rest of these down here, from Post-Effects on down are basically data-type channels. You can pull out specifically the color, diffusion, or UVW of a material. You can pull out the motion vectors, which is the representation of the animation of a scene for use with the Pixel Motion Blur. You can pull out the illumination of the scene, or the depth of the scene, which is the distance from the camera, which can be used in the Lens Blur in order to create a depth of field effect. We're not going to worry about any of these options right now. We're just going to stick with these five channels. I'm going to enable Multipass, and I'm going to go ahead and do a quick Editor render so that you can see what this looks like. If we jump into the Layer tab here in the Picture Viewer, and we activate the Single Pass checkbox here, we can look at what each pass looks like. So if I click on Reflection here, you can see just the reflections that are happening here in the scene. If I click on Shadow, you'll see the shadows. Specular gives you an idea of where the speculars are falling, and Diffuse shows you just the base color. Then, if I click on the Object Buffer here, you can see that what we have here is an alpha channel or mask, or luma key for just the cap portion of the video screen. All of this is going to become more important once we jump into After Effects and take a closer look.
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