Cineware Party, Part 09: Reflection Panel

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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  • Duration: 09:22
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  • Made with Release: 14
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Setting up a softbox-style reflection panel

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.

This video explains how we set up a softbox-style reflection panel using the polygon primitive and gradient shader. You'll also learn how to use the Interactive Render Region and Set Active Object as Camera position the reflector panel.



- Now as the last step for our lighting what we want to do is actually put some geometry in the scene so that we can make that main light sort of simulate more of a soft box. Right now, we're not actually getting those nice reflective accents on our balloons and on our letters that really kind of make things pop. What those really are is not so much the light, but the reflection of the light and you know we added the reflection when we created our balloon materials and our text materials. We just need to give it something to reflect, and that's where that reflector panel comes into play. So to create that, what we want to do is just create a new Polygon Object. By the way, a Plane Object and a Polygon Object are basically the same thing. But a plane has subdivisions, whereas a polygon is just one subdivision. So whenever you're creating a Plane Object with just one subdivision, you can just use a Polygon Object instead. They're pretty interchangeable. I tend to use Polygon anytime that I know I'm not going to need more than one segment. In this case, we're not really going to be bending it or anything. So there's no reason that we need more than one segment. Now, when I set up reflectors like this, I like to always use an orientation of -Z or +Z, because that allows me to point the Z-axis much like I would a light in order to sort of aim the reflector. We're also going to need this reflector to be quite a bit bigger, so we'll just go ahead and set it to something like 2,000 by 3,000. Now, obviously, it's in the wrong spot. Just to place it really easily, this is basically representing or turning the main light into a soft box. So let's just put it underneath the main light and we'll zero out the coordinates so that essentially it ends up in the same spot as the main light. We'll jump here into four-view so that you can see. Right now, our reflector plane is right here in the same spot as the main light. Now, we do want to always make sure that it's just a little bit behind the main light, because if we're not careful it could actually occlude the main light and we wouldn't actually get any light on our scene. So now we have our reflector panel behind the text, and we need to go ahead and add a material to make this luminant so that it's actually reflecting something. So let's go ahead and create a new material, and I'm going to double-click on the material to open it in the Material Editor. In this case, we don't need color or specular. We're just going to be using luminance. So here we have just a white luminant material. If it's just 100% brightness, it's not really going to pop in the scene. So we actually need to increase this brightness above 100%, maybe to something like 400%. Now, let's go ahead and apply that to our polygon and see how it looks. So we'll go in here to the Perspective view and render, and now you can see we're getting those nice reflective highlights on the balloon, and even along here on the text. Now, the one downside is that right now they're a little bit harsh, because there's no fall-off. It's just a straight white panel, and when you have a soft box, you actually have a bit of diffusion towards the edges. So let's go ahead and add that in. We'll go back into the material and in the texture here, we're going to go ahead and click the triangle and add a gradient. Now by default, the gradient just goes left to right. But there's options here for what type of gradient you want. So we'll use a box-style gradient, and you can see that we're already getting much closer. But we need to have the black along the outside. So we'll just right-click on the gradient here, and choose Invert Knots. Now, you can of course also drag these knots to customize the gradient, click in to add additional knots. But we only need the two, and we're going to do something like this. Of course, you can adjust this so that you have either a sharper or a softer falloff on your soft box. Now, if we render what you'll see is that we've lost a lot of our reflection, and that's because by default our gradient here on the Luminance channel is mixing in Normal mode with the brightness. So it's basically overriding the color here. What we want to do is actually multiply it with the brightness so that we're getting our gradient effect, but we're still able to control with the brightness and the color here what the actual soft box looks like. Now if we render, here we have a nice soft fall-off on our soft box, and we're getting the reflections at the level that we want. One last thing we want to do here on this material is go ahead and change the color of it to roughly match the light itself. So I think we were somewhere here in the 35 to 40 range, with about 5% saturation. Because again, this soft box is basically representing the real-world geometry of a soft box, where the main light is the illumination of that soft box. So matching the color will just help to make sure that things kind of line up. Now, the last thing I want to do is just tweak the rotation and position of this reflector panel, just a little bit to try and adjust how the reflection is actually showing up on the cap of our text here. To do that, what I'm going to do is jump into four-panel view, and what we'll do is go ahead and set up this Perspective view with the Interactive Render Region. So we'll hit Alt+R, which creates the Interactive Render Region. You'll see this box here, over the view port and we can just drag the edges of this out to show the area that we want to actually be able to see interactively. This slider here allows you to adjust the quality of the render. So obviously, the lower it goes, the faster it's going to render. But it's going to look more chunky. If you run the slider higher it's going to take a little bit longer to refresh, but it's going to look more accurate. Now, what I can do is take this view panel and instead of using it as a top view, I'm going to link it to my reflector panel. So my reflector panel is selected here in the Object Manager, and I'm going to choose Cameras, Set Active Object as Camera. This is where it becomes important again to set up that reflector panel with the -Z orientation so that you're looking right down the reflector panel, and you can now aim it through this viewport. So let's go ahead and switch this display to Gouraud so that we can actually see our shading, and I can just use the normal camera tools here now to adjust the rotation of that reflector panel. You'll see as I do that, this is going to update and show me how that change affects the actual final render. So we're dropping this reflection down on the T and on the Y a little bit here. We can do it even more. We'll exaggerate this just so that you can see what it's doing, maybe bring this reflector panel around here like this a little bit more. If we go just a little bit more, we can cut just right on the edge of that Y, and that looks pretty good. Maybe we'll come back just a smidge, something like that. So this provides a way that you can really easily go in and sort of aim your reflector panel. Because of the Interactive Render Region, you'll be able to see the effects of your change immediately in the other view panel. So before we leave, I want to go ahead and make sure that I switch this view panel here back to the default camera, and it'll go right back into top view. That way, next time we need to access top view it'll already be set up for us. We'll go back into the Perspective view. We're going to go ahead and hit Save here, and jump back into After Effects. You'll see the effect of our new lighting here in the After Effects Comp immediately. It looks pretty much the same as the old lighting because that's basically what we were doing, replicating the lighting that was already in the scene. So I hope that gives you a nice little introduction to lighting in Cinema 4D. In the next few tutorials, what we're going to do is actually jump into Cinema 4D Broadcast and Studio and look at some of the advanced effects that you can achieve if you upgrade from Cinema 4D Lite to one of those versions.
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