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Create an Abstract Scene using C4D & AE - Scene Creation

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Abstract scenes are fairly common these days, however there is no denying their usefulness when it comes to learning animating, rendering and compositing techniques. In this brand new, two-part tutorial, C4D artist Benoit Lavoie-Lamer shows us how to create a amazing-looking (yet strikingly simple) abstract scene, by first creating the scene in Cinema 4D and then heading into After effects for the final compositing. Enjoy!

Part 1: The scene

Step 1

Let's start by creating the scene and the animation, after this part, we'll move on to the studio creation! Start off by creating a sphere with a radius of 350 m, leave the segment at the default value (24 m) and be sure to have the Render Perfect option checked.

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Step 2

Now, let's change our sphere into a metaball shall we! For those who don't know what a metaballs is, read this, it's an interesting article that explains everything you need to know about metaballs. So, where were we? Oh yeah, convert our sphere into a metaballs! In order to do so, first, select your sphere, hold Alt and click on the metaball icon. (It is located between the Nurbs category, and the lights category.) Holding Alt and clicking automatically creates a Parent/Children hierarchy between the already selected object (in our case, the sphere) and the selected icon (the metaballs).

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Step 3

One of the thing we need to fix before we continue, is too change the Hull Value to 350 %. You might ask yourself why since now our sphere is way smaller. The reason is that when you use a metaball parent, any children you add into the hierarchy will make the metaball bigger. This isn't a problem right now but if we don't fix it now, we'll run into issue later on.

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Step 4

Now we'll start creating what makes the metaball move. Create 3 basic sphere and change the segments of every sphere to 1. We put 1 for the segment because if we keep it at 24 segments, later on, the viewport will be really slow and we really don't want that. It won't change anything in the way our metaball act.

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Step 5

Change the Radius of the first sphere to 105m

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Step 6

Change the Radius of the second sphere to 90m

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Step 7

Change the Radius of the third sphere to 75m

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Step 8

Now, select the first sphere, hold Shift and click on the third one. Then, simply drag them so they are a child of the metaball. Your Objects panel should now look like mine.

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Step 9

Let's add some motion now. YAY! we will use an object tag named Vibrate. For those familiar with After Effect's wiggle expression, it's basically the same thing. You should skip the next paragraph if you know what it is.

For those who aren't familiar with any of this, to put it simply.. You enter some value and it will randomly alternate between those value over time.

Enough talking, let's assign a Vibrate tag to our three small sphere. To do so, select the first one, hold Shift and select the third one, then, go to Tags > CINEMA 4D TAGS > Vibrate .

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Step 10

Before we start animating, change the length of your scene to 200 frame. You do that by simply typing 200 in the box I highlighted in the picture.

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Step 11

Select the Vibrate tag of the biggest of our smaller sphere. The one with a radius of 105m. Move your timeline to the 150th frame. Check the Enable Position option and change the amplitude settings so it reads 130 > 110 > 80.

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Step 12

Now, Right-Click (Command+Click for mac) on Amplitude and go to Animation > Add Keyframe, you should see a red circle to the left of Amplitude if the keyframe was added.

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Step 13

Move your timeline to the 180th frame and change the amplitude settings so it reads 0 > 0 > 0.

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Step 14

Now, add another keyframe on the Amplitude settings. (See step 12)

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Step 15

Select the Vibrate tag of the sphere with a radius of 90m. Move your timeline to the 150th frame. Check the Enable Position option and change the amplitude settings so it reads 110 > 132 > 134.

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Step 16

Add a keyframe for the Amplitude settings. (See step 12)

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Step 17

Move your timeline to the 180th frame and change the amplitude settings so it reads 0 > 0 > 0.

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Step 18

Now, add another keyframe on the Amplitude settings. (See step 12)

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Step 19

Select the Vibrate tag of the sphere with a radius of 75m. Move your timeline to the first frame. Check the Enable Position option and change the amplitude settings so it reads 450 > 236 > 242.

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Step 20

Add a keyframe for the Amplitude settings. (See step 12)

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Step 21

Move your timeline to the 180th frame and change the amplitude settings so it reads 0 > 0 > 0.

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Step 22

Now, add another keyframe on the Amplitude settings. (See step 12)

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Step 23

Let's fine tune the animation! If you're not happy with your result, change the Seeds value. Since the Vibrate tag act randomly, you won't get the same result as me. Select the sphere with a radius of 105m and move it up just a little bit, or until you're happy with it.

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Step 24

Select the sphere with a radius of 90m and move it down just a little bit, or until you're happy with it.

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Step 25

Select the sphere with a radius of 75m and move it to the left (on the X Axis). We're trying to achieve the effect where one of the sphere separate from the main sphere

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Step 26

Select the sphere with a radius of 105m and move your timeline to the 150th frame. Then, add a keyframe for the position by following the direction in the picture.

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Step 27

Move your timeline to the 180th frame and move the sphere so it fits nicely in the middle of the main sphere, then, add a keyframe the same way that we used in step 26.

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Step 28

Now, repeat Step 26 and 27 for each of the smaller sphere, so that at frame 180, everything fits nicely into the main sphere

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Step 29

Let's move on and create the big ball that wraps everything up at the end of the animation. First, create a sphere with a radius of 230m, try to get it centered like I did

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Step 30

In the video, the final sphere appears from the bottom to the top. In order to achieve this, we'll create a cube a bit bigger than the sphere. I used a size of 500m but in reality, the size doesn't matter, as long as the cube is bigger than the sphere and there's enough around the sphere. My final dimensions are X = 500, Y = 600, Z = 500

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Step 31

Now we are going to create a Boolean operation, simply click on the Boole icon (See Picture below). If you don't know a thing about Boolean operation, I'd suggest you head over to wikipedia and read on that subject. After you clicked on the Boole icon, simply place the cube and the sphere inside to create a parent/children hierarchy. Place them as I did in the picture below.

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Step 32

Move to frame 150, select the cube in the Boole hierarchy and place a keyframe for the position. After that, move to frame 180, move the cube so it's over the sphere, and set another keyframe. VOILA, our animation is finished! As this animation is based off random value, you might need to tweak it a little so it's perfect. Giving you every single value I used to tweak it would be useless since it's random.

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Step 33

Let's apply some materials to the objects to make them sexy! I assume you have a certain knowledge of Cinema 4D if you're following this tutorial (which rocks by the way), so for the materials, I'll just do a quick picture overview. Let's start with the outer shell material. This one is pretty simple, you just need to change the color and the reflection settings. Just follow the picture. Be sure to assign this material to the Boole object, not the cube or the sphere!

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Step 34

Let's add the material to the inner object. Again, just follow the values in the picture (warning, this one is pretty huge). then assing this material to the Metaball object.

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Step 35

Everything should be like this now, if it doesn't, try to read the tutorial again and find where you missed something. If everything looks like this, let's move on to the final part of the tutorial! Studio creation! YAY!

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Step 36

Save the project file and start a new project. I like building my studios on a separate project file so I can re-use them easily.

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Step 37

In the original piece, I used a light kit from GreyScaleGorilla (Get it here, it's awesome). But, for the sake of the tutorial, I'll show you how to simply create your own studio based on real lighting studios! Let's start by creating a new project file and create simple plane. The dimensions are 4000m by 6000m, after that, change the segment value (both Width and Height) to 1.

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Step 38

Make sure the plane is selected, then press C on your keyboard to convert the plane into editable polygon. After that, click on the Edge selection tool (see picture below), then, click on one of the longest edges

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Step 39

Whith the edge selected, press D on your keyboard to get the Extrude tool. Enter a value of 2500 to the Offset setting and click apply

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Step 40

Click on New Transform and enter a value of 3500 to the offset.

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Step 41

Now go to Structureand click on Bevel. Hold shift and select the two edges selected in the picture below. When they are selected, click on apply and apply the same settings as those in the screenshot below.

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Step 42

Create a new plane. Set the width to 3400 m and the height to 2300 m, after that, change the Orientation to +Z. When you are done, place the plane to the far right of the studio, like I did in the screenshot below.

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Step 43

Duplicate the plane (Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste) and place it to the far left of the studio like I did in the screenshot below. For later reference, I'll refer to the left plane as Plane 1 and the second plane as Plane 2.

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Step 44

Now, some basic lighting theory before moving to the materials! (YAY) The basic studio we're building uses 3 lights. To create a great studio lighting, we'll use a Cold light (Blue-ish color) and a Hot light (a warm color, like orange). Those 2 lights and a fill light are really simple to set up and provide great result (as seen in the screenshot below). Enough Talking, let's move on to the materials!

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Step 45

For the materials, just apply the settings highlighted in the screenshot below, simple enough =D. Be sure to apply the materials to the correct planes

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Step 46

Before we do a test render, we need to tweak some render settings. So go to Render > Render settings. Click on Effect... and choose Global illumination. Apply the settings high-lighted in the screenshot below.

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Step 47

When your render is done, you'll notice a pretty big problem - we need more light in front of the studio. We need a fill light! So let's do that!

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Step 48

Start by creating a 1600m x 5600m plane. With the Rotate tool, hold Shift and rotate it 45 degrees. After that, place it at approximately the same place as in the screenshot below

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Step 49

Create a new material, and apply the high-lighted settings like in the screenshot below, finally, add the material to the plane we just created

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Step 50

Much better! Feel free to adjust the brightness of each of the planes to your liking.

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Step 51

Now we just need to import our scene by clicking on File > Merge and we're done with the 3d part!

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Extra :

To optionally add a little life to your blob, you could apply a rotation that will last the whole animation. Before you import the scene in the final step, go in and select the MetaBall object and then the rotate tool. Go to frame 1 and set a Keyframe for the Rotation H (if you're not sure how to add a keyframe, please review the earlier steps concerning keyframes). Then, move to frame 180 and set another Keyframe for the Rotation H with a value of 465 Degrees.

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I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any questions, drop them in the comment and I'll do my best to answer them as soon as possible :)

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