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Beeple’s Short Film is a Wake-up Call for Everybody, Including Himself

December 2, 2019 - By 

Four years in the making, Beeple never thought he’d finally release ‘Manifest Destiny.’ Now you can watch it and download all the scene files he made for free.

Mike Winkelmann, a.k.a. Beeple, wrote the treatment for his latest film, Manifest Destiny, a little over four years ago, never dreaming that it would actually take so long to get the film finished.

Derailed by procrastination, he finally got back on track after making a deal with an artist he met at SIGGRAPH, him agreeing that he would finish his film in 100 days, and she would create an Everyday for 100 days. “I don’t know why I agreed to that, but it forced me to f—ing do it,” he says, admitting that “I still didn’t do anything until the last two weeks, and I seriously finished it on the 100th day.”

Reached in Denver last week where he was one of the featured speakers on Maxon’s 26-city 3D Design + Motion Tour, Winkelmann talked with me about the making of Manifest Destiny, using Cinema 4D, Octane and Houdini; losing interest in making longer films; and how his Everydays have turned darker and more political in the last year, but he remains optimistic about the future.

Meleah Maynard: Your other films, Transparent Machines and Zero Day, were social commentaries too, but Manifest Destiny feels stronger and more pointed. Would you agree?

Mike Winkelmann: Yeah, this one is not vague at all. The things I’m pointing out are literally happening now. But there is a bit of sensationalizing, like I did with the other films. There is so much inequality in the world, and it is improving in some areas, like statistics show that the number of people living in extreme poverty is slowly declining.

But things are getting worse in a lot of ways too. I tried to choose statistics that people may not have been aware of, like how Jeff Bezos made over $100 million dollars every single day in 2018, and the average Chinese worker assembling iPhones makes $1.85 per hour. I wanted to hit on a lot of different points about money.

MM: You’ve been saying this film would be done for a long time. What happened?

MW: I don’t know. I think, to be honest, I’m not actually that interested in making things that are this long anymore. I’m more interested in doing short 10- to 30-second videos. I think that you can be more experimental when you have less time, like, ‘I’ve got two days invested in this, who cares? I can do whatever.’ But when you spend four years, you’re like, ‘OMG, should I do this, or that, or this?’ It becomes paralyzing. I don’t even watch short films much anymore. If I do another video, I’m giving myself a deadline, like a month or something.

MM: Were you redoing it over and over? What was left to finish?

MW: No, the only thing left to do was edit it to the Run the Jewels track. I had everything done and rendered. But then I just didn’t touch it for a year and, honestly, it wasn’t even bugging me that I wasn’t getting it done. I was always planning on using that Run the Jewels song, “Legend Has It.” I liked the overall vibe of the song, but I hadn’t talked to them about it yet. And then one of the guys got in touch with me to say they’d seen some of my Everydays and wanted to talk about making a video. So it all worked out.

MM: Talk a little bit about your process for making this.

MW: The workflow was pretty simple, really. I mainly used Cinema 4D and Octane. Octane gave it a great look that really felt super realistic. I could just set up a couple of lights and throw some volumetrics on it to get a lot of depth and atmosphere.

The buildings were modeled in C4D, and all of the fire and destructions was simulated in Turbulence FD and rendered in Octane. There was no compositing: I just went straight out of C4D and Octane and did one color correction and that was it.

MM: What about the fat gold characters, and how they sort of melted together?

MW: Oh, yeah, I used Houdini for the melting gold people. I have no idea how I did that. When I started this four years ago, it was the first time I’d ever done characters. I used Mixamo for the big gold character, and Houdini for the melting effect. It’s a good thing I saved that as an Alembic file, or I would have had to start over since I don’t remember how I did that.

All of the fighting was done with Mixamo models that we already in poses, like they were hitting, ducking or punching. I just had to choreograph the characters, so it looked like they were fighting. I’m happy with how it turned out. The melting thing was kind of symbolism for this weird orgy of people at the top, like our politicians and upper-class elite, all bumping heads and wrestling around in a big pile. They’re not really doing anything meaningful, just shifting their weight around while very little changes for the rest of us.

MM: Why did you go with text and music rather than narration this time?

MW: I was going to do a voiceover with music, like I usually do, and I had like 140 people submit auditions, but none of them were right. So I decided, pretty much at the last second, to put use text, even though it would be covering up all that sh-t I worked on for so long. That was probably a better choice anyway because a lot of people watch videos on mute, so they wouldn’t have heard the narration. I wanted to get a lot of stuff across, like how much debt we’re in, how rich Americans are, and how so many people are insanely poor and a few are insanely rich.

MM: Do you worry, or think about, the state of the world a lot these days?

MW: No, I wouldn’t say that. But I do work a lot more with two TVs on, one turned to FOX News and the other to CNN. I mute the sound, but it’s very interesting to see how differently they cover things. FOX is just all of this propaganda and, pretty much the opposite of what CNN says. You can see why the country is so divided.

I’m definitely interested in politics, and I do think we are headed for a time when we’re all going to have to make some changes and adjust to a new reality, including changing our levels of spending. But there are things we can do, like give money. Most of us can afford to give money, but we don’t. Or we don’t give enough. Honestly, as I’ve made more money, I’ve given less money. This film is kind of a wake-up call, for everybody, me included.

MM: It seems like you’re trying to say more with your Everydays now, too.

MW: I’d say it was about July when I started doing things that are overtly political. I like taking a political- or commerce-related scenario and abstracting it out to a ridiculous degree, like the pro-choice one where robot Trump is being forced to have a baby in the future, or where Mark Zuckerberg has no nipples because women can’t show nipples on Facebook.

The response has been super, much bigger than anything else I’ve done. It really just felt like a natural progression from the storytelling I’ve been doing.

MM: What else are you doing these days?

MW: I’m working on a couple of things I can’t talk about yet. I just did some concert visuals for Zedd, and I’m doing a video sculpture for a festival that Amazon’s doing in December. I’m traveling a lot more. A month ago, I was in Brazil with my wife and the kids. And my wife and I are going to Russia soon for a conference I’m doing with Maxon. There’s a lot going on.


Credits and Free Downloads:

Directed by: BEEPLE
Music: RUN THE JEWELS

Donate:
Donations to Direct Relief.

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DOWNLOAD ALL CLIPS:

Does not require Cinema 4D.

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DOWNLOAD CINEMA 4D PROJECT FILES:

Beeple’s resources

Get the Project Files

Meleah Maynard is a writer and editor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


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Should 3D Artists Think Like Cinematographers? + 13 FREE LUTs

October 8, 2018 - By 

When should you start thinking about color in your 3D and motion design projects? It’s time to think like a Director of Photography.

Image via Jakob Owens.

While listening to an Entagma discussion, where Manuel Casasola Merkle and Moritz Schwing rant about render engines, the duo spends a little bit of time talking about LUTs in the post-process.

This led me down a tangent of questions, which ultimately led me to wonder if 3D artists should operate more like cinematographers. A Director of Photography (DP) will often devise a color scheme before production even begins. They’ll talk with the director about the emotional connection they want the piece to convey, and then the DP, either on their own or with a DIT or colorist, will create a look.  Read More


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Free Light Saber Model For Cinema 4D

December 19, 2015 - By 


To celebrate The Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we are giving away a model Chris made during a live stream from this week.

Click here to download this Free Light Saber Cinema 4D Model

Inside the ZIP, you will see two different versions. One is the render you see above, lit with HDRI Studio Pack. If you don’t own HDRI Studio Pack, no problem, just open the textured and unlit version of the scene.

If you render anything with it, post a link to your render in the comments. We would love to see the results.

Wanna see how Chris modeled this? Watch the live stream recording below and see the exact techniques Chris used to model this Light Saber in Cinema 4D.

Live Cast Recording


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Free Cinema 4D Models – Daft Punk Helmets

May 21, 2013 - By 

To celebrate the official release of Daft Punk’s new album, we are giving away these professionally modeled Daft Punk helmet models for Cinema 4D. They are textured and all ready to render. Head to the bottom of this post to download the Cinema 4D Models and start playing. Be sure you are listening to this track as you start lighting these things. Also, Look for some tutorials soon that will feature these models. Have fun!

Download The Daft Punk Models Here

Download The Daft Punk Models Here


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GSG Flag: Free Customizable C4D Flag Scene File

May 9, 2012 - By 

Download the GSG Flag Scene File Here

Just a quick video showing a quick animation I made yesterday. I was playing around making a flag animation and found a pretty simple, stylistic way to do it. It renders super fast and is customizable. Just change the PSD file attached and you can make it whatever you want. A Fresnel on the diffusion is handling all of the shading. I show a bit of the compositing in After Effects at the end of the video too if you are interested. Drop a link in the comments or on the Facebook Page if you make anything cool with it. Enjoy!

Sample Renders

Based on This Current TV Logo Animation.


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GSG Flame: Free Candle Simulator for Cinema 4D

October 7, 2011 - By 

I started playing around with a realistic way to build a candle flame effect in Cinema 4D after reading a post over at Mograph.net. After a few hours, I got a decent looking effect going. So, I decided to build a quick Rig dedicated to making candle flames. Not sure if too many people will need it, but here it is for you if you do. Feel free to download it just to check out all the xpresso and deformer setup for the rig. I used a bunch of wind deformers combined to get the flicker effect. I added a candle with some Sub Surface Scattering to the scene file as well just for fun. Hope this comes in handy some way.

Download GSG Flame

Examples

Download GSG Flame
Cinema 4D r12 and up only


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Free 3D Ink Preset for Trapcode Particular

July 13, 2011 - By 


Click Here to Get This Preset and More For Free!

I have been working on trying to get realistic looking ink drops in water with Trapcode Particular for a while now. I got pretty close and decided to give away the preset over at Red Giant People. It’s a hog to render, but it gives a pretty cool result. Also, if you change the random seed or the wiggle settings, you will get totally different ink drops every time. This one was pretty fun to make. Hope the preset is useful for you.

Click Here to Get This Preset and More For Free!

Buy Trapcode Particular Here