Siggraph 2015 Rewind - Athanasios Pozantzis: Cinema 4D Release 17 - The Ultimate Workflow Tool

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See how C4D R17 Takes and Tokens enable variations and render layers

Athanassios Pozantsis (aka Noseman) explains why the Cinema 4D R17 Take System is the ultimate workflow tool. He'll show you how to override objects and materials, create render layers for compositing, and define render tokens to automatically name rendered files. He'll show some practical examples of the Take System in Cybertime's Hooked and AixSponza's SEED shorts.

01:49What is the Take System?
02:47Basic Overrides
07:41Child Takes - Overriding Materials
10:23Render Layers with Takes / Override Group
13:03Takes and Render Settings
19:40Render Layers in HOOKED
26:33Material Override
30:24Takes in SEED



So today, we're going to talk about life values, about how to improve on your day-to-day life, how to enjoy life more than anything. Because all these years, MAXON has been catering to the connoisseurs of 3D, the hedonists, the bon viveurs, and all the people that have fun working, okay? But this time they thought about, "Why don't we cater to the hard workers as well? Make a change, people that actually work for their living." So they decided to create the ultimate workflow tool, something that, regardless of what you do in the 3D industry, it will save you time. And that time, you can allocate it wherever you want. You can spend it with your family. You can make more money by doing more work. But it's the only way you will actually save tons of time. Thank you very much. The funny thing is I'm not going to drink it, but anyway. . .so this is very rare. I have a keynote presentation here. I never do that. And actually it's not even the right page. So let me go to the right page. There you go. So we're going to talk about one of the main R17 features, which is the Take System. Now the Take System is not one thing. It's a suite of workflows, managers and concepts that improve your workflow like never before. There's one issue with it. It's so ridiculously easy to use, that unless you actually start using it, it's hard to understand the value. Because it's just simple. It's very deep and it's extremely powerful. So let's move on. What is the Take System? It's a versioning tool. It's render layers, a full solution for render layers, render naming solution. I can't even read what I wrote, but that's another story. Scene management, smart global material override, and more, everything in a single document. That's it, one single document. No more multiple documents iterations, different folders, change the name, do that. "Oh, which is the right document?" by date and so forth. If you see my project files, project folders, you're going to be afraid. You're going to be scared. I'm pretty sure this applies to everyone. So there's one main principle: any attribute and parameter that can be keyframed can be taken, and then some. I'm going to repeat this "and then some" quite a few times. So let me show you. And as usual, everything starts with a cube, and this time, with a sphere as well. Because we can have versions. Let's go. So I have my masterpiece here, which is basically a bouncing cube, okay? Now inside this cube, there's a little sphere. It's behind that. So there's the sphere. So I've been creating my new fantastic project, which is basically something that's bouncing. And I'm deliberating between do I want it to be a sphere or do I want it to be a cube? But in real life, this is a situation that you're presented with quite often. Because you don't know which of all models you're going to use, which character you're going to use, and even which packaging you're going to use if you do package design. And you understand what I'm talking about. So I'm going to create a real life situation here. What I'm going to create, iterations. So I want to be able to have a scene for my cube, a scene for my sphere, and then I'm going to do a few more things. How does the Take System work? Well, there's a manager here. That's called takes. I'm going to right-click on it and undock it. And I'm going to click on this button so I get the full manager. Everything you have to do with the takes, you actually do it in this window here. And it's all familiar interface. Let me talk about the concept. The main take is exactly the same way you have been working all these years. If you don't want to use the takes, you don't even know they are there, all right? They're invisible. Only if you bring up the manager you can start working with them. So I'm going to leave the scene as it is. And I'm brainstorming by myself as usual. And I want to create my first iteration, which is just a cube, a red cube bouncing, which means I need to get rid of my sphere. See, behind here there's a little sphere inside my cube. I'm going to use it later. So what do I want to do? I'm going to right-click here and do a new take, which I'm going to name "red cube." The Take System does not help you spell, okay? Red cube. And you can just select each and every one of them. Nothing changes. On the red cube take, we want to see only the cube, nothing else, which means I want to make the sphere invisible. What do I do and how do I do it? There are different ways of making an object invisible. The simplest way is to turn off its visibility in the renderer and the editor. So I'm going to do the following thing. I'm going to go to my sphere, go to my basic, and already you're seeing a difference in the interface. You can see that these are grayed out. When the attributes are grayed out, that is because all the attributes that are grayed out are inherited from the parent take. That's why these two scenes are identical, because both this and this have exactly the same attributes. So we want to add an override. So I go to the attribute I want and I drag it from here into my take. And just like magic, we have the visible render parameter and only its attribute in this little editing panel. And I'm going to make it off. I'm going to drag the visible in renderer. I can drag it here. I can drag it there. I can drag it anywhere I want. And I'm going to select it and turn it off. And look at this now. My main take has the sphere but my red cube now doesn't. So you do it only once and that state is recorded. Let's see how we can make this even more fun. I'm going to create a new child take and call it red sphere. So I want to do exactly the opposite. So what do I do? I go to my red sphere. I select my red cube this time because that's the one I want to make invisible. I go to the appropriate attribute. I'm going to use a different method now. I'm going to right-click on this and say override. And it adds it. So you can drag it or you can add it by right-clicking. And I'm going to do the same here, override. And I'm going to go over here, open these things up. I can double-click here and change it, and I can double-click here and change it off. So I did it once, and now I have one, two states. This is the equivalent of having two documents, one with only the red sphere and one with only the red cube. And you will ask me, "But this is easy to do with two documents, " all right? Would you ask me? Can someone ask me? No. But then we can add another extra element of difficulty. We have a red version. We want a green version for both of them. So suddenly one version became two. Two versions are going to became four. So how do I do that? Well, if I right-click on the red sphere, and say new child take, I'm going to call this green sphere. And because it's a child of the red sphere, it's going to inherit everything that's in the red sphere, which means this, and everything from the main that is not in here. So it inherits up the hierarchy anything that hasn't been overridden. What do I want to change in my green sphere? I want to change the sphere material assignment, but I'm going to do it in a different way. I'm going to turn on the auto takes. And when I turn on the auto takes, everything that's overridden turns to blue so you can edit it. But you know that it's all inherited. And the only thing I need to do is grab. . .oh, I need to create a green material. So go back to your main, turn off this, make a copy of this, call it green, double-click. And this is our fantastic new color chooser, which I'm not going to show. But you can do all sorts of things like this, and like this, and you can add these. So I'm not going to show you the color chooser, okay? You can save swatches. You have HSV, RGB, Kelvin, and all that. Anyway, so I made it green. I wasn't supposed to show you the color chooser, but I did anyway. And all you have to do is go to your green sphere, turn on your Auto Take, and make sure that the sphere assignment is green now. And it records it automatically. That's what the Auto Take does. So I'm going to turn it off. And just with one swift move of my wrist, I've created another take that inherits everything from the red, that inherits everything from the main. So now we have one, two, three, four states. Fantastic. And I want to create the same change for the red cube. So in this case, I will do exactly the same thing. Go to my auto take, select the cube material, and assign the green. Undo, because I didn't create a new child take, which I'll call green cube. Is it a cube here? Yes. So I'm going to go here, Auto Take, and do this, turn off Auto Take. So red sphere, green sphere, red cube, green cube. Fantastic. And if at any point I want to do a change on my main scene, all those changes are going to propagate down the hierarchy. You don't have to go and change every single instance of what you have made. And I'm going to show you what I mean by the next example. Okay, I have my objects, but I want to create a shadow pass. Now, for anyone that's used any multi-pass system on any 3D software, you will know that shadows always get occluded by the object in front. And although we work around that, it will be nice if all our shadow passes were all the shadows and we can just drop the objects on top of them. Well, we can do that. And it's so simple I'm embarrassed to show it to you. But I will. Right-click, new child take. And I'm going to call this "floor alone." Good. So the first thing I'm going to do is go to my main take and make my floor invisible. I don't want it, okay? So because changes propagate down the hierarchy and all that, you will see that all my takes don't have a floor. But the floor alone, I'm going to activate for the floor the visibility, on and on. Fantastic. Turn this off. So we have a floor alone, which if I render, you can see that we still have the objects. So I need to tell the floor alone to remove the objects from my scene. But I don't want to remove them from visibility and rendering because maybe I want a reflection. I just want to remove them from visibility to camera. And in order to do that, I'm going to use another great feature, which is called the right-click override group. Now, what this override group does, it adds a little group here, and you can assign to that group what to override. And you can override textures, compositing tags, display tags, blah, blah, blah. And it will apply all this to all the objects of the group. Or you can turn off the visibility. And how that works is I grab my cube. I grab my sphere, drop them in the group. And currently, nothing is happening, so they are still visible in the take. All I have to do is for all of the objects in the group, tell it with a compositing tag to be invisible in camera. And all the objects in the group are going to be affected. And if I render this now, I get only my floor. Now, the good thing about is that any moment, if I add more objects to my scene, all I have to do to incorporate them in the same logic is to drag them in this group and they will be excluded in that specific take. So okay, we have one, two, three, four, five takes, which in previous times would either be clicking on and off buttons all the time or grouping things in weird ways. And it becomes frustrating and the logistics become crazy. But now everything is at the reach of one button. So we need to move to the next step, which is, okay, we have all these things. We need to render them now. So what's going to happen? How are we going to name them? How are we going to name them? Something is coming up, so how do we name them? So what we're going to do, we're going to open our render settings. And one of the features that I haven't seen people using that much are the render settings, okay? So if you don't, just use them, all right? Get it over with. Use them. Now, the good thing about the render settings is that if you create a child, like with the Take System, it inherits all the parameters that you haven't changed. So if I call this, let's say, objects, okay? And I want to make sure that my objects are rendered using a straight alpha. And you will see why I'm going to use it later on. And then I'm going to create another child, which is going to be called floor, okay? And although I won't make them any different other than this one has a alpha channel and this one doesn't, what I'm going to show you is that the floor, if you click on this little thing here, you can choose the floor settings for this take, and you can choose the objects from these ones. So you can define for each take a different render setting. What does that mean? Well, that means that you can have in one scene different instances of your scene, different iterations of your scene, that can render in different resolutions, with different codecs, in different aspect ratios, with different cameras, with different frame ranges, and you get the idea, with different object passes. . .sorry, multi-passes. And how can we deal with this? Because here we can have one, two, three, four, five renders for each frame. We need to find a way to manage it. Enter the keynote presentation. The Take System introduces the concept of tokens. A token is an attribute, a variable, that starts with a dollar sign, and these are the ones that are hardcoded in Cinema 4D. $prj stands for document name, camera for current camera name, take for the current take name, pass, blah, blah, user pass. You're going to love the next one, frame rate, render settings, name, and all that. And where do you use them? Well, you use these in the file name. So, excellent. I'm going to define some kind of place to put these. I'm going to create a folder with a very descriptive name, 11111, and "renders" is going to be the name of this. So I've got my path here. And I'm going to extend my path to account for my takes. So if I put a slash here, that means the name "renders" is going to be become a folder rather than a file. And in here, first of all, I want a folder structure that has my project name. So I type $prj, and then slash. This is going to create a folder with a project name. Project name is Cube 01A at this point. Then I want a subfolder, which is going to be my take name. So I'm going to type $take. If you're like me and you forget everything, you don't even have to remember, because . . .whoop. You know MAXON hides the best things in little triangles. I think it's a fetish or something, but it's amazing. All the attributes are here. So all you have to do is just select one of these and it tells you what it is, okay? As simple as that. So a folder named "take," and I want the actual name of my file to be prj, again, _take. So the filename is going to be Cube 01A, floor alone for this, red sphere for that, green sphere for that, and that's going to be the name. And drumroll, I'm going to render this from 0 to 10. And providing I haven't done something terribly wrong. . .oh yeah, I need to put the same. . . I can put render settings as well, but I don't care at this moment. I'm going to just paste this here and make sure it's a PNG, although it won't make a difference. I'm going to leave this as TIF so you can see the difference as well. And I'm going to mark these because I can render all takes. But I just don't want the main because the main is just the main. Render marked takes to picture viewer. . .let me make sure I have animation. See? I knew it. Zero to 10, and floor. Actually I could have changed the main one and they would inherit, but anyway, good, 0 to 10, 0 to 10. That's my mistake. And press render, mark takes to picture viewer. It's going to tell me that the document contains dynamic simulations. It's smart, just in case you need to bake them. And you go for a walk. You do your thing. Okay. You can't justify that as real work to your clients, and that's up to you to solve. So let's go to our desktop. Renders, so this is the folder structure that was created. The name of cube one, the takes, and the names of each take. Now, how cool is that? How cool is that? Come on. Let's hear the word. How cool is that? How cool is that? Okay, we're not done yet. We're not done. We have quite a few things to see still. So what else can we see? So this is the main concept of the takes. And I'm not going to look at my notes. I'm going to look at my keynote. It's not going to help me. All right. Scene management, yes. Oh, global material override. Okay. I'm going to show this to you. And then I'm going to show you some real life examples. Let me open a fantastic piece from Aixsponza. And I don't know if you've seen Aixsponza's great movie "Seed." Yeah, go to and see it. There's a link there. And if you go to the Aixsponza website, you will see they have a making of it and all that. And according to Emanuel from Aixsponza, one of the founders, if it wasn't for the Take System, they wouldn't have been able to do this in the given amount of time they had. Anyway, that's all Cinema 4D, but we already know that. So let's go into take simplified advanced render. Okay. We are seeing the global material override. I'm sorry. This is the wrong file for that. I'm going to go back to my hooked, okay, and yes, takes. I have it open. Let's go. It's an animation that was done in 2012 by a company called Cybertime, Günter Nikodim. And I would suggest you go on YouTube and you watch it. It's a really, really nice piece, a great piece of animation, "Hooked" from Cybertime. And it's all about an octopus. So he was kind enough to give me this file. And what's happening with this file is that we have our main hero object. He's in a situation where he's on a white floor because we haven't decided on where we're going to put it, what kind of floor. But somewhere in here, we have a shadow pass. So you will see that I have main without floor. So we have only octopus. Then we have a sucker mask, and the sucker mask is a mask of these blue suckers. So currently, at this point, if you want to do this prior to R17, you actually need to create a new instance of the material, and again either move it left or right in hierarchy to override it, create another scene. You can't incorporate it in your document. But now with the takes, it's very easy to do. And let me show you, first of all, how to do that. And then I'm going to move to the material override, because this is not it. So no takes. So this is the same version without any takes. It takes a little bit of time to load because I think it's 500 megabytes of cached data for the octopus. Good. So I'm going to go to a frame I find interesting somewhere here. And I have already a material, which has a luminance channel, with just the suckers. So I'm going to use this in a take. I'm going to just create a new child take and call this suckers. And because it's a simple mask, I don't need a physical renderer. So I'm going to create a new child called fast to keep it simple. And I'm going to go here, turn off everything else, turn this to standard, and maybe turn down the anti-aliasing, because I don't care. And what I'm going to do is the main take is going to be rendered over here, but this take is going to be rendered with the fast version. And I've taken care of that, so that's fantastic. Main fast, good. And the next thing I'm going to do, I'm just going to get rid of these. And it's more of an OCD thing rather than everything else. And I'm going to apply this material. And it's as simple as the following: take manager, suckers. I want to make everything disappear. And how to do that? Right-click, override group. And I want to call this "invisible." And I'm going to start adding these. And all I have to do is just make them invisible. And I'm going to add them. So I want the octopus. The octopus is the only thing I actually want. So I'm going to grab everything else, put it in here. Automatically, it's disappeared. But in the main, it exists. Of course I could have created. . .if I wanted to create an object mat for that, so it's over the mask and so forth, but I'm not going to do it now. So we have the octopus alone. And the next thing to do is go to my octopus and override this material. So I'm going to go here, select it, go to material, drag it in here, go down to my texture, and change this to my mask. So I've created an instance of my scene. Oh, we forgot the eyes. Excellent. Do a test render, grab the eye in here. That's the good thing about groups. Since I've set up what I want the group to do, all I have to do is add the other two objects in here, render, and they're gone. And that's the basic premise using the groups and everything else. So now I have two takes. I have my normal take here, which you will see the octopus. You will see everything. You will see the shadows on the floor. And I've created my sucker, which is, even with a different renderer. . .and I've created, just like that, an iteration of my scene, which is optimized to render for a mask. You don't need a physical renderer for a mask. On the contrary, it makes things much, much slower. So this way, you can see you can create your custom masks. So even material buffers now, material buffers, easy to do. Extremely easy to do because you can use the Take System to do that. That's why the Take System is so deep, that unless you start using it in your everyday work, you will not understand what the benefits are. And honestly, I think I have never seen anything simpler than this in its concept, just dragging things in, grouping them, and turning on and off parameters, which is something we do every day many, many times, multiple times. So since we are here -- I keep on closing this take manager -- let's talk about another fantastic addition, the material override. Now, the material override is not part of the Take System per se, but it is. And it works in the following way. I turn it on and I press render. And I wait for it. Yeah. Because I've got a take selected, I'm going to do the following here. Here we go. Material override, exclude, do be do be do be do. Yeah. This is a typical mistake I always do. Although I was trying to apply it to the render, I had the render focused here. So the render render settings. But I had the fast selected. So I turned it on here instead of here, okay? So the rule is the yellow one, [inaudible 00:27:22], the yellow one. So let's turn on material override. And now I will render. I'm getting a clay render. And the fantastic thing about the implementation of. . .first of all, the reason this is a bit grainy, I have very low physical renderer settings. Now, what's fantastic about the material override is number one, all you have to do is turn it on. I think it doesn't get easier than that. Number two, it's very flexible. So you can see that in the material override settings, we can preserve any of the following attributes of a material: transparency, bump, normal, alpha displacement, which means that if I turn all these off, I'm not going to get any bump whatsoever. So this would be the most common type of clay render you'll ever get. But no, we are going to use actually all these parameters because this allows us to work with our lighting without having the textures interfere with what we are trying to see, the shadows, the highlights and all that. Now, the good thing is that currently the custom material is just a white material. It's a default Cinema 4D material. But what we can do, we can create our own material. So I'm going to double-click here, call this custom, double click on this. And I'm going to put a luminance with ambient occlusion. I love ambient occlusion. So yeah, turn this to, like, 30. And what you need to do is drag this in the custom material and see what happens here. There you go. So now, every object has been replaced by that custom material. And then of course, you will ask me, "What if I don't want the microphone?" You will ask me, "What if I don't want the microphone?" Excellent. You just exclude the microphone. Duh. So microphone exclude . . .oh, that's materials. Sorry. You exclude materials. My bad. So the microphone has this material, and I can tell it to exclude this material, which means that any object that has that material, that little thing here, will be excluded. So I'm going to drag my plastic here, and this here, and anything else I need. And I think the chrome. . .and that way, you can create a render that keeps certain elements and overrides everything else. And I find this, again, so easy, I need to slow down because I've got too much time to explain these things. So that's the material override in action. I would like to show. . . Let me see if I have anything else to show. I'm a bit short. Now, I'll show you how I Aixsponza used the take manager. So this is a simplified version of their fantastic Seed movie, and it has these going up. So what they did, they have first of all, they have an animatic take. Because one of the most important things is to convey parts to show to your client iterations of what you're doing, where you've got if you want to show animation. Of course, up until now, you had to create a separate scene and change the textures, make it faster, do some adjustments. But in this case, all you have to do is make an animatic pass. So in this case, Aixsponza made this, which renders really fast. But then the main render, which was actually created for Octane. And Octane is the other thing. The Take System works with every third party plug-in. Anything that can be animated or any parameter that can be changed in Cinema 4D, regardless if it's native or made by a third party, it can be used with the Take System. Third-party renderers can be used with the Take System. There's an API that allows anyone -- did I tell you that -- to extend your tokens -- one more time - extend your tokens using coding. And the way the Take System has been written allows for the support of third-party renderers, even if you use, I think, third-party distributor rendering solutions. Now, one more thing which I was asked was, "Can you, in any way, render using Team Render Server? Does it understand the takes?" Well, the answer is well, it doesn't understand the takes, but what you do is you go here, and you say, "Save all takes with assets." And what that will do is create a folder with the name of the take that includes the project and all the assets. And if you do this, just as one step, and save to your Team Render Server repository folder, automatically it starts rendering. So it's a one-click solution. And then just get rid of it. Now, if it's one file or five files, nobody really cares because that's what its job is. You just get rid of it after the fact. So yes, it supports everything that works inside Cinema 4D in its full extent.
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