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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.

Make a Donation

DOWNLOAD ALL CLIPS:

Does not require Cinema 4D.

Download Now

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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Lighting iPhones and Peripheral Products in Cinema 4D and Octane

October 30, 2019 - By 

Breakdown the composition, lighting, and render settings of this iPhone product render from R4D Studio.

All images via Nik V. of R4D Studio.

After seeing the jaw-dropping renders from R4D Studio on Twitter, we reached out to creator Nik V. to talk about his product render process.

He tells us all about his work creating product renders, then guides us through his latest render of an iPhone 11. Take a look at his process and breakdown this Cinema 4D and Octane project.

Read More


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How MPC Combined C4D, Maya, Houdini and Unreal for this Music Video

October 28, 2019 - By 

The making of Ed Sheeran’s magical music video “Cross Me,” featuring Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock.

Ed Sheeran and Chance the Rapper weren’t able to actually be in the music video for their new single “Cross Me,” which also features PnB Rock. But Riff Raff Films director, Ryan Staake, and the Moving Picture Company came up with a mind-blowing way to combine motion capture, photogrammetry, 3D animation, and visual effects to allow all three of them to appear anyway.

The result is a video that offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create a fully CG story. Read More


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What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to?

August 8, 2019 - By 
What Version of Cinema 4D Should I Buy or Subscribe to? - Guide Featured

With several options to choose from, which version of Cinema 4D is right for you? Follow along with this guide to choose the right version or subscription.

In an attempt to simplify the entire purchasing process, Maxon has eliminated the various versions of Cinema 4D (Studio, Prime, Broadcast, etc) and has announced that going forward there will be only one version of C4D.

While choosing the right version of Cinema 4D has now become a lot easier, choosing the right subscription bundle has users scratching their heads.

So let’s dive into the new options to pick which is right for you.

Cinema 4D Purchasing Options

Cinema 4D is available as either a one-time purchase with the perpetual license or as an ongoing subscription. Read More


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What to Know About Maxon’s New Cinema 4D + Redshift Subscription

August 5, 2019 - By 
What to Know About Maxon's New Cinema 4D + Redshift Subscription

Cinema 4D goes subscription with a Redshift bundle option. Learn about the newest features of C4D R21, like a new Caps and Bevel system, Field Force dynamics, and more.

Image from MAXON Computer GmbH / Andres Hildebrandt.

During the Siggraph 2019 show in Los Angeles, Maxon announced the new Cinema 4D R21 with new features, like Field Forces, a Caps and Bevel system, new Mixamo Control Rig, rendering improvements and interface speed enhancements.

The biggest news was that R21 would introduce a single version of Cinema 4D that is available with either a perpetual license, or a new subscription. On top of that, users can now bundle a C4D and Redshift license. Let’s take a look at all the C4D news. Read More


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Creating Hyperrealistic Props and Assets in Cinema 4D with Aaron Covrett

June 24, 2019 - By 
Creating Hyperrealistic Props and Assets in Cinema 4D with Aaron Covrett - Featured

Learn how to create realistic objects with high fidelity from one of the best artists working with Cinema 4D and emerging 3D tools.

In this fantastic NAB presentation, freelance 3D artist Aaron Covrett guides you through his personal projects and experimental workflows.

Earlier this year we talked to Aaron Covrett about his remarkable work creating his Harvest still life that was inspired by Renaissance paintings. He share with us his passion in learning about new emerging technologies, experimenting with better workflows and pipelines, and his real passion for 3D.

Close up of Harvest details via Aaron Covrett.

Now at NAB, Covrett breaks down some of his personal work. He specializes in texturing, which you can really gain a sense of as he walks you through prop development and asset optimization in Cinema 4D. Read More


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Interview: Ash Thorp on Designing a Pro Driver’s Ford Rally Car in C4D

June 19, 2019 - By 

Go under the hood in this breakdown on using Cinema 4D to design a Cossie V2 rally car for driver Ken Block.

Designer/Director Ash Thorp is well known for the visual effects and prop designs he creates for feature films, like Ghost in the Shell and Assassin’s Creed. But he’s also really into designing CGI cars, like the ’64 Ford Fairlane Z and the Hellion, which are artfully featured along with several others in the Auto section of his website.

Thorp considers car design a hobby, but he admits that he was hoping that professional rally driver Ken Block might one day see his cars and want to work with him. He didn’t. But as luck would have it, a friend introduced the two of them and Block did ask Thorp to collaborate on the design of his newest rally car, a ‘90s Ford Escort Cosworth known as Cossie V2.

Using Cinema 4D, Octane and Redshift, Thorp spent nearly four months working on and off with Block and others from Block’s racing company, Hoonigan. Read More


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Painting Over Cinema 4D Renders to Animate a Spotify Music Video

April 16, 2019 - By 
Painting Over Cinema 4D Renders to Animate a Spotify Music Video - Featured

A behind-the-scenes look at the surreal and powerful Spotify music video for Mitski’s “A Pearl.”

In the new music video for Mitski’s, “A Pearl,” from Be the Cowboy, a barefoot woman walks determinedly for a while before breaking into a run that turns into a freefall as the lyrics lay bare her soul. Eventually, the Mitski-like woman lands on her feet and begins walking again and it’s hard to know whether to breathe a sigh of relief, or cry.

Artful and heart-wrenching, the Spotify-commissioned video is a collaborative creation by Brooklyn-based studio Art Camp and New York City-based designers/animators Saad Moosajee and Danaé Gosset. Read More


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BREAKING NEWS: Maxon Acquires Redshift Rendering Technologies

April 8, 2019 - By 

MAXON takes a bold step in its acquisition of Redshift, one of the most popular third-party render engines for 3D artists and motion designers.

Today at NAB 2019, Maxon CEO David McGavran announced the acquisition of Redshift Rendering Technologies. At the Maxon booth, McGavran and Redshift co-founder Nicolas Burtnyk shared the stage during the live announcement on c4dlive.com.

In a press release, McGavran shared,

“Rendering can be the most time-consuming and demanding aspect of 3D content creation. Redshift’s speed and efficiency combined with Cinema 4D’s responsive workflow make it a perfect match for our portfolio.”

Redshift co-founder Nicolas Burtnyk went on to say,

“We’ve always admired Maxon and the Cinema 4D community, and are thrilled to be a part of it… We are looking forward to working closely with Maxon, collaborating on seamless integration of Redshift into Cinema 4D and continuing to push the boundaries of what’s possible with production-ready GPU rendering.”

Redshift already supports Cinema 4D, as well as other 3D apps Maya, 3DS Max, Houdini, and Katana. Read More


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C4D News: Cinebench R20 and Save Up to 60% on Cinema 4D Upgrades

March 7, 2019 - By 

The latest version of Cinebench is here. You can also save big on Cinema 4D R20 upgrades, and Maxon took home an Academy Award.

It’s been a busy 2019 for Maxon. Not only are they still riding the wave of a big Cinema 4D R20 release at the end of 2018, the company spent early 2019 at the Academy Awards and just announced a significant update to Cinebench.

Let’s dive into the big Cinema 4D news.


Cinema 4D R20 Upgrade Super Sale

Right now through March 29th at 3PM PST, you can save big on R20 upgrades. Customers with ANY previous C4D release can upgrade to Cinema 4D R20 for $1,695. Read More


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Interview: Maxon’s Academy Award-Winning MoGraph Tools

March 5, 2019 - By 

Cinema 4D’s Lead Developer talks about the now Academy Award-winning MoGraph toolset in C4D, which earned a Scientific and Technical Award.

Though the films themselves often take the spotlight during the Oscars, this celebration of achievement in production extends far beyond the last year’s movie releases. In addition to the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) celebrates outstanding achievements with Scientific and Technical Awards.

We previously talked about Cinema 4D’s MoGraph tools earning a Scientific and Technical Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and since we have had the opportunity to talk with Maxon’s Cinema 4D Lead Developer Per-Anders Edwards about their achievement.

Here’s our conversation.


Per-Anders Edwards Interview

Per-Anders Edwards at the award ceremony. Image via Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Read More


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Creating FUI for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Shows, and More

January 31, 2019 - By 

Fantasy User Interface (FUI) artist Robyn Haddow talks about her experience building functional interfaces for films, television, video games, and more.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Credit: Marvel Studios

Motion graphics artist Robyn Haddow is a dreamer, and as a successful freelancer specializing in creating fantasy user interfaces (FUI), she gets to dream plenty. Ant-Man and the Wasp, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor, Transformers, Mile 22, and Bumblebee—those are just a handful of the feature films for which Haddow has designed screen graphics and holograms.

She’s also worked on games, including Batman: Arkham Origins and several TV series in the DC Universe as well as televisions shows on networks such as Netflix, FOX, CW, NBC, TNT and CBS. Read More