Camera Projection and GI in Cinema 4D Part 2: Compositing the Scene in After Effects

January 14, 2010

In part two, I show you how to set up your scene to render for compositing. We set alpha passes, depth of field passes, AO and GI passes. Then, In After Effects, we composite the scene using curves, colored solids, blurs, Frischluft Lencare, and Red Giant Knoll Light Factory.


Tutorial Focus:  

  • whoaaa πŸ˜€

  • nice man, im waiting for this one πŸ™‚

  • was expecting this but not so soon! since you are leaving chicago for stokholm in few days, anyway. thx for making cool shit so fast !
    enjoy your trip to europe, too bad you don’t come to france :p

  • very nice. hey, how it’s made the 3d text explode like SYFY logo.thx.

  • Awesome as always Nick. You got my heart racing when you started rendering in Cinema and AE at the same time… I’ve had some bad nights playing that game… πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for this great tutorial!
    I appreciate the time that you invest on this.

    Have you tried before PhotoMatch C4D plugin?

  • love how you sort of do all sorts of stuff at the same time. depth of field, projection, dynamics, lightning, text, color correction, everything!

    But I’m still stuck at part one! Help!

  • Thanks for the tutorial Nick … good stuff!

    Just out of curiosity, how beefy is your hardware? What are the specs on your video workbox?

  • Hy Man! You know the word…..Aaweeeesome!

  • Great tut thank you Nick

  • Great set of tutorials, lots of great stuff covered render-wise.

    Also ended up with a pretty cool looking piece, love the colors!

  • At a risk of using some overused words, both totally amazing, awesome tutorials. I just upgraded MoG and C4D to 11.5 and just bought the AR module as well. Really great to see a project from start to finish like this. Looking forward to more!

  • wow! awesome, this technique has helped me think of some new ideas. thanks πŸ™‚

  • Did not know it was possible to open the project while rendering. Time saver!! Great tip, very useful tut. Thnx.

  • why didn’t you render .rla from c4d in order to have information like object id and zdepth?

  • stelios chatzopoulos January 15, 2010 at 7:11 am

    @ mojo ? think that like this he couldn’t have good control of the highlights for the zdepth
    @ The Gorilla: Great tutorials! These two were perhaps of your best tutorials. It would be very nice if we could see also a workflow for the Projection Man system inside c4d 11.5. Thank alot!

  • hi Nick, this is it. This tutorial is massive, well done

  • Thanks Nick well worth taking the time out to watch, could you do one for video next time including tracking?
    Same style, just integrating some of the dynamics from the destruction tutorials reacting with footage.?


  • Additionally, i would be interested as to how quick you would have to do this at industry standard. Taking into consideration your doing a tutorial, i would guess you would knock this out {render permitting} at about the same speed from concept sketch to finish. You make some very specific decisions instantly off your own knowledge and skills. I always love to play around with the balances and image correction but it when a 3 hour project becomes a whole day slog it becomes a little too easy to fall behind. What advice would you give to help with the speeding up of your work flow?

    • Time spent doing this work is rarely long. It’s the thought process, problem solving and design that takes the longest to do. Pressing buttons in order is never takes too long.

      I knew what my outcome would be going in. So, redoing the scene was effortless. It was all the time spent trial and error that really is time consuming. This is exactly why I am experimenting with Live Tutorials. Sure, the outcome isn’t too pretty, but at least you can see some of the struggle and effort that goes into problem solving on the fly.

      Speeding up your workflow only happens when you get really good at recognizing and solving problems. 1 hour jobs turn into two days when you have too look things up or keep playing with a design until it looks good. Get good at solving problems and you will be faster!

  • David Kopidlansky January 15, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Nick, very well done. It was fun to watch. I don’t get to work with other designer/animators, so seeing the process is enjoyable.
    Also congrats on your engagement. I wish you two all the best.

  • one of the coolest tutorial ever seen.
    thumbs up!

  • Okay, I got a little lost when you were explaining about all the passes and stuff… so I just tried out some stuff in After Effects. I’ll just have to try out the whole tutorial again, to see if it gets any clearer, but so far here is my result:

    Thanks again for this tutorial man, it was awesome!!!

  • I just got CD4 this week but I have been watching your tuts for months which has allowed me to step right in and make cool shit. This is really the topper on the cake!

    Thank you πŸ™‚

  • Nick this has got to be one of my favourite tutorials I have ever done. I must say the way you do your tutorials are the easiest to follow.

    I was wondering, Would this work for animated character with a walk cycle?

    If I can use this tutorial instead of having to track some video footage then composite my character into the footage using after effects/C4D then this will save me a lot of rendering time, as I only have a macbook pro to do all this work on! lol

    I’ll probably email you if you wanted a little more information on what I am trying to do.

    Cheers man!
    Love this tutorial!!!

    • Hmmm, that sounds pretty difficult. You want to project footage of a person onto a character? That would need a ton of roto and hand animation of the 3D character. It’s really not the same thing. This is a pretty simplified version of camera mapping.

  • Thanks Nick, great tutorial!

  • That is very nice tutorial , It’s really helpful.Hope you can make more cinema 4d and after effects integration tutorials . thanks Nick πŸ™‚

  • Hey Nick,

    I got a little question. As I scrub through my animation, the still is projected onto the planes and the camera is animated, but when I go to batch render, my text and shadows rendered with the camera, but my background/everything else does not. What can I do to make sure my whole scene renders with the camera?

    Please help me!


  • Hi Nick, it’s always nice to see (how) others work πŸ™‚

    A few notes, if it’s ok?
    For the scale issue, adjusting the Gravity and Time Scale in
    Project Settings -> MoDynamics can be another way.

    When adding a AO pass, make sure to uncheck the “Apply To Scene”
    (in the AO effect) not to stamp the AO into the beauty pass.

    The DepthPass is a little confusing using the Front -and- Blur
    of the Camera. You get a White to Black(Cinema Focus) to White again.
    This locks the focus in post to the full black since -one- grey value
    represents -two- “depth”. You have the same gray both infront of
    subject as well as behind it.

    To get a “true” DepthMap (White to Black) using the Cinema camera,
    only use Front Blur. The Front Blur “End” parameter is full White and
    Target Lenght is full Black. (Keep Front Blur Start at zero)

    (The White To Black To White is really only for Cinemas own DOF stuff.)

    Hope you don’t mid my notes πŸ™‚
    Have a nice stay in Sweden! (I live here in the snow)


  • Off subject a little, can you tell me what some of your menu bar programs are, it’s driving me crazy. Oh, and what are those finder add-ons as well. Great looking tut and really informative. Thanks!

  • This is the best tutorial ever….
    Thank you Nick!

  • Pretty impressive what you offer the community here! A very useful and beautiful example, especially as you show the AE comping too!

    Will be hard for you to top this i guess =)

  • Hey Nick

    Thanks for the brilliant tutorials. Unlocked some niggling secrets and can’t wait to try them out on projects.

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  • Hi Nick,
    Thanks for posting this, along with the content on the rest of the site. Watching your tutorials has always been helpful and appreciated. I’m wondering if you would consider allowing the videos on vimeo to be downloaded, however, as I frequently want to watch them in fullscreen on a second monitor as I work alongside them. I realize that there is a fullscreen setting in vimeo, but you cannot be using another app while doing so, as vimeo reverts it back to regular size. If we were able to download them, you could open the video in another player app and continue to happily work side by side. I’m sure there’s a number of reasons that I’m unaware of as to why you don’t do this, but thought I would ask.

  • Oh my!!!
    Thanks Gorilla!
    I’m from Brazil and i learn a lot with you.


  • Thanks Nick! πŸ™‚ I just got into cinema 4d and I’ve learned a lot with your tuts.
    Here’s my attempt on this one:
    It’s for a contest I just used the GI and ambient oclussion techniques
    Thanks again!

  • Awesome tutorial.

    However one thing i think you should really touch on is UV mapping and bump mapping in Cinema 4D. I think that being able to take that 3D text and texture it in Photoshop so that it looks like metal or rock would be awesome.

  • Great tutorial Nick. Just what I needed.

    just a quick question tho… I need an alpha on my export. I ticked the alpha channel in the render settings but when i bring the whole project into AE the main render has no alpha on it.

    Any ideas?


  • Nice tut! Have you ever tried doing the same with projecton man? It seems it has even more ways to cheat camera movement.


  • Hi !
    I had a little further question: Is it possible to change the move of the camera right in Ae, after the render ? (It sounds too good to be true but I had to ask anyway ^^) And have you got any idea why I can’t actually see my camera keys in Ae ? (Because we can see them in your comp…)

    Thanks for the tut anyway !

  • That is a great tutorial, I’ve been waiting for it since the first KeyframeTV episode with the β€œBelieve” spot.

    The final effect looks cool but don’t you think the DOF looks rather like a tilt-shift?
    It seems a bit shallow for a real world camera.

    Thank you for the tutorial anyway!

  • I have 1 question about the depth pass.When i get my pass rendered it’s a moving depth pass. Is there a way to keep it static,and not moving? Thanks

  • Hey thanks again Nick, love this stuff.

    Here is my take animated

  • hey gorilla, thanks for your work but I’m stilla having trouble since I don’t have MoG2 on my 11 release.

    so I tryed to animate the Mograph text in my scene with traditional Dynamics tools, but I cannot fix it…for two resons:

    1. Nothing moves =(
    2. If I succeed to animate it (don’t really know how), than it sticks to frame 90 even if I make the project longer than 90 frames…

    could you please tell me where am I wrong? I’ve seen also your intro to Dynamics (’cause I’m quite new to animation) but text animation is pretty different isn’t it?

    ok, thanx a lot!

  • Cool stuff nick, to bad i do not have after effects but seeing your workflow i’m considering off buying it because it looks like a great piece off software.

    Here’s my take (no dynamics , just the scene)

  • Nick, what a tut to start off the new year.
    Really enjoy the tuts that marry C4d and Aefx for a complete production work flow. Most helpful and appreciated.
    Good on you mate!

  • This has really been great, I’ve dedicated a few hours to following along with my own project and I’ve really learned a lot. Especially this second part on exporting the different layers to After Effects…really good to know. Seriously thanks so much. I’ll post my project soon.

  • Here’s my version of the falling text.

  • Here’s my version.See if i can get the link right. Sorry.

  • hi, thanks a lot for the cool tutorial. espacially the after effects part was very good. i dont have c4d R11.5, thats why i went for some vray car animation. but the camera projection and after effects skills are yours.

  • Thx Nick…Fabian here…CHECK OUT the one I made w/your help & tell me what you think if u can:

  • Thanks for the awesome tutorial!! I’ve had a great time experimenting with the technique.

    After some playing around I got this done

    I’ve been wanting to buy Frischluft Lenscare for a while now, so once I got the money I’ll get it for sure. In my example I just used Lens Blur which works pretty well too πŸ™‚



  • Is there a forum anyone can recommend?

    I’m on my third attempt from scratch, but I am not getting any kind of shadow casting (using GI) from the type/objects I place on the floor.

    In a new scene with a couple simple objects, and GI, I GET shadows… so don’t know where I’m going wrong with the camera mapping process.

  • Thank you a lot Nick, this was a freaking awesome tutorial πŸ™‚

    I enjoyed every minute, this is what I came up with πŸ™‚


  • Hey, thanks it’s a really good tutorial. to begin with cinema 4d (at least for me). I’m trying tu use the mograph effect on the fracture object, it works, but the textures I used changed, only the first is used for my 5 extrude nurbs (they are all in a null object because i used envelope). Do you have an idea, a solution? Thanks in advance…

  • Is there anywhere where i can make a Tut Request because i would really love to see how you can do the effect off the D.A.N.C.E Music video by justice i have an idea on how jsut need a lil more visualization πŸ˜€ well yea h:D
    This is a nice tutorial btw i learned so much! thank you

  • wow, everybody does this better than me.
    great to see the variations
    thanks GSG

  • I only get one pass layer even though i checked DOF and the others before rendering in C4D. Did I miss something?
    Thanks for the tut learned a lot!

  • gr8 tutorial
    is it possible to load a footage instead of the image for projection

  • Thanks for sharing.

    Though I really waited for a realistic motion blur to get applied by using Cinemas MotionVector Pass. I’m always getting problems with that, since I kind of need to apply the motion blur to my objectbuffers too.

    I ended up blurring the final result at once using RealSmart Motion Blur but that way iam getting incorrect blurriness sometimes.

    Maybe you could show us how to add that little extra to this Comp?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

    greets from germany

  • Here’s what I was able to finish thanks to this tutorial, was trying to do it for a long time and now it’s done, thanks Nick !

  • Hey Bro . AMAZING WORK . i just love your stuff ! i just started with C4D and ur tuts really helps . i have 1 Quistion .when i hit the render . i get this ( GL ANIMATION PREPASS ) update passes 0 of 12 and it starts to render . is that normal ?
    coz i did another tut . and i didnt get that msg . and its taking alot of time to render :/

  • Haven’t you forget to increase the ambient occlusion you’ve reduce for ease purpose before final render ? πŸ˜‰
    +1 for the save before crash, an eternal usefull topic ahah.

    It’s a great tut, I’ll check others for sure ! Thanks a lot.

  • Great tutorial Nick. I’d been experimenting with vanishing point in AE and this method makes things a hell of a lot easier. Cheers.

  • dude you realy helped me a lot with both techniques and inspiration ! this is what i made thanks to this tut’ its a work in progress but i hope you like it! cheers

  • Nick do you know why it won’t render my camera movement? I turn on the camera and selected, still won’t render only the letter dropping that is it. By the way great website!

  • Hi, firstly THANKS for all this awsome tutorials! I have never seen such good tutorials on Internet about C4D.
    But i have a problem when i save the c4d project for AE.
    In fact, the .aec file i saved in render options can’t be opened in my After Effects πŸ™ Do you know why ?
    Thank you

  • Here’s a fully realised project using the technique. Went a bit further into pulling and pushing some geometry to fit with the photo like cutting windows out and bevelling frames etc. there’s a project blog o see the development/process too if you click through from the vimeo link.
    Cheers Matt

  • Great tutorial I used this so i could lean about passes and better renders in cinema 4d to after effects, I was wondering when you preview your clip in after effects by dragging the timeline tool through it, it runs through it normal but on mine, it will go frame by frame, so if i one to move to a section of my clip it wont play back it will just skip to that frame, is it the amount of ram you have?

  • Thanks for the awesome tutorial really opened my eyes to a whole other spectrum of graphics I can do with just C4D and AE. Thanks again!

  • Thanks for all your help Sensei! I used this tutorial to make this for Texas Tech:

    Keep an eye out for the “Sheol” music video I made for my band The Dead See!


  • You should do video on a term I use called ‘specific illumination’, the study of illumination of specific objects and how they affect a scene as opposed to ‘global’ illumination.

    D Rivera Jr

  • when i try and give motion to my move camera and i move it i end up getting double images over everything. why is this and what can i do to stop it so i can move around the scene with out this double projection.

    thanks so much

  • Here is my version :

    Thanx for the tut man Peace !

    PS : i made this photo of my railway (Cergy-Pontoise-France)

  • Fantastic tut, ive learnt loads of new things. Im new to after effects and having a big problem though. I cant open the aec project file in AE, obviously a small fix but i cant understand it. I saved it in the render options to the same folder as the rendered tiff fils, plus the target application is set to AE. any help folks i really wana finish this tut. cheers anyway and thanx for all the time you have put into uploading these for us. mucho love

  • another stupid question, im still having trouble.
    when i save the project in the render settings, save, save project file. it saves it as a .aec file, and AE tells me thats an unsupported file type. its looking for .aep files??? confused, as i cant seem to find a way to save as aep? if thats makes any sense

  • Thanx, didn’t know where to start.
    Plus the icon for the project file when I save it looks like a page with a small AE on it instead of a large AE logo.
    But I can work on using the tiff files so all is good.
    Big ups for a reply.

  • Your a serious guy Mr. Nick, too much thanks goes out to you.

  • Wonderful tutorial with a great end product! You’re the man Nick Campbell! πŸ™‚

  • dude… how did you get more than the clasic 2 squares when you are rendering?
    and, did you change the Gi to IR+QMC full animation before?

    • Each square, or bucket as they call it, represents one thread of processing. To add more buckets, you add more chips. I have 24 buckets from 12 chips double threaded. I’m guessing your computer has two threads from two chips.

    • yeaph… i should upgrade my computer soon,i fan another question… im studing architecture,i made my 3d models in archicad but for renders i use cinema, and the materiales of cinema, especialy the architecture edition, did you recommend me something about cinema to improve my renders?

  • sorry about the worst english or the worst redaction that you ever read

  • Pretty awesome stuff Nick, but I can’t for the life of me get those letters to break apart individually.

    Here’s my output

  • hey nick thanks alot for u r great tutorials…. is it possible to add.. like floating mountains o watever it is said made in cinema 4d and put it into a real world footage….

  • Hey Nick! I’m really greatful for these tutorials, I’ve been following them for 6 months now and I wanted to show you what I did after watching this one, it’s actually a combination of pure gorilla knowledge, It is the combination of your glossy candy stripe texture tutorial, several tutorials on the mograph module and modynamics features, The easycam tutorial, this tutorial, and finally, I used one of the presets (a little bit tweaked) from your “vintage film for looks”.
    Hope you like it, here’s the link:
    Greetings from Mexico!

  • Hello
    I am looking for a way of building a 3D city with cinema. Is there a tutorial about that?
    Any ideas?


    A video put together with the help of this tutorial πŸ™‚

  • Bro ur an inspiration for me!! thankz aloot for this awesome tutorial :)..

  • Here’s my take on it:
    Tell me what you think.

  • Great tutorial – really enjoyed it!

    pretty pleased with mine but would love to know more about adding sound to things…what do you guys use?

  • Hey Nick,

    Shurly from Holland here, thanks for the tutorial!
    here’s what I came up with:

    Critics are welcome!

  • Very cool tutorial ! Thanks !

  • Thanks so much Nick, absolute hero for doing these tutorials. Here’s mine first proper thing I have ever made in C4D:

  • hi nick
    any suggestions of how to manage the depth of field in case u have many objects animated in your scene using multiple cameras?

  • Hey Nick this was an awesome Tute. Thanks man.
    It inspired me to make this:

  • Awesome tutorial (both parts of it). I’ve been plowing through C4D tutes from different sources and yours are really the first that allow me to grab the info in a relaxed and informative sort of way. Well done Nick!

  • This is more a question do you have any tutorials projection man?

  • So if anyone is compositing in MOTION, then it works a bit differently. I copied the regular tiff sequence, put it as the top layer then put an image mask on it with OBJECT 1. In the mask settings, you must set it to Luminance, blend mode is ADD, and turn off stencil and invert mask. It took a while to figure that out. Then have the original tiff sequence below. Then when you put Levels on the masked image, it will only effect that area. WHEW

  • You have Such a Great Telent man … I have start seeing your Tutorial from the morning 10 am till late night . in one day by seeing your Tutorials i have become your HUGE FAN … LOVE YOu NICK …. n THANK YOU FOR ALL TUTS

  • Thanks Nick. Your tutorials are amazing. Just the right speed to learn. Made this little clip based on this tutorial:

  • Hey Nick. For some reason, I want to render out each object buffer in an RGB pass for each one, and then a depth pass for all objects together, but when I render, the object buffers are depth passes instead of RGB passes.

  • Great info – makes a lot of sense to see the project with goals in mind. Used a similar strategy with vanishing point in psd for after effects … didn’t know this projection method. The rendering trick was fabulous. Re: the letters bouncing … have you seen the plug-in “Newton” for After Effects from It helps control the bounce movement & adds another dimension to AE.
    Much thanks!

  • Hey Nick,

    I did the renders including saving to AE project files.
    But I can’t open it in AE.
    The folders contains all of the depth passes, GI’s, psd-files etc, including a .aep AE file.
    I van open it but it contains information of another project.

    Will I have to re-render (and wait 5 hours again)? everything?
    Hope you can help me out…


    • Nick,

      The biggest problem is this: the camera’s from C4D aren’t exported to AE.
      I only have a still image in AE because there’s no project file, although I did save it in C4D…

      What can I do to solve this problem?
      Just shooted some nice video’s with my Sony DSLR, can’t wait to use these…

      Thanks again!

  • This video saved my butt yet again. Cheers Nick!

  • Very beautiful, and with so few resources! I do think you went through this like a freight-train. Waaaaaay to fast to follow, not really explaining the program (AE) very much, but, oh well..

  • Very strange, I can see all the passes and buffers are exporting in Cinema 4D but they are not showing in After Effects. Just a folder in the project called multipasses with 6 PSD files all called ‘MULTIPASS[0000-0160]

    Hope you can respond…

  • Why do you have to use these obscure plugins all the time…

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