Camera Mapping and Projection in Cinema 4D Part 1

January 13, 2010

In part one of this tutorial, I show you how to set up a camera projected scene in Cinema 4D using a photograph. Then we animate the letters using Mograph 2 and light the scene by using a combonation of Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion.

In Part Two of the tutorial, I will show you how to set up this scene for multi-pass rendering, Depth of Field and for compositing in After Effects.


Final Result

Tutorial Focus:  , , , ,
Software:  ,

  • Great Tutorial! Thank you very much! Can’t wait for part 2!

    • I am really stuck at this, I cant even get the plane to show up on the screen and this is at the very start, I really have to get this done soon for a project, No prizes for guessing I’m new to C4D,

  • This looks brilliant, i can’t wait to watch!

  • Wow Nick…your really taking the site to the next level with all these tutorials in 2010…Keep it up…your an inspiration to a lot of young motion designers..just like myself

  • Cool thanks for this, I am about to do a project that involves camera mapping. I am going to use footage though, I would love to see a tut using film.

  • I hope you’ll address the daunting task of combining photographs in part2. Not for the faint of heart in my experience, even with C4D and Projection Man.

  • Wow Nick, you’re giving away everything! We’ll all be out of a job soon! 😉

    • Great tutorial! i can´t wait to see the second part! Keep it up Nick!
      Hi there Lawrence!!!! I meet you everywhere! hahaha

  • Completely awesome insane tut! Kudos man…

  • Hooraay, this is the kind of tutorial I expect from a leading digi-artist 😉

    Thanks again !

  • Amazing tutorial, I am learning so much!

  • You’re awesome Nick. This is a really great look at camera projection. I always pick up a thing or two watching you work and I really appreciate the time you put into it.

  • Nice job as usual Nick, fun to watch your process. One thing that I think would have been helpful to explain is that the Background object is there purely for reference in order to build your projection geometry, and isn’t used at all as part of the final render – and can in fact be turned off. Otherwise, it gets a little confusing to see both it and the planes included in the renders.

  • Thanks! There are so many entry level tutorials and not enough tutorials like these for people like us who are really trying to further the design knowledge we already have.

  • excellent tutorial. but I was expecting Alexia do to the tutorial. a little bit disappointed here. 🙂

  • Thumbs up! Soooo useful. Looking foreward to part II

  • I really wanted to learn this stuff. Gives a lot of tips, thx Gorilla.

  • Exactly what I wanted a tutorial! Thanks so much man.

  • Very Nice. I’ve done a lot of camera mapping but was always fighting with matching the lights. Never thought a ‘simple’ V-gradient on the sky would be such a flexible sollution!

    Still deciding if I should upgrade from R11 to R11.5 or wait for R12. Mograph 2 and the Tile rendering probably justify the upgrade on their own!

    Any idea when R12 will be released?

    P.S. – Can’t wait for the HDR Lighting Studio thingy!

  • ding it, i’m in love with a gorilla… thx so much for the awesome tutorial! one thing, though: have you ever encountered the problem with the mograph dynamics that when you render, everything falls differently than you see it unrendered in your scene? I’ve bumped into that problem a lot and couldn’t find any way to fix it. that’s pretty frustrating of you’ve tweaked the settings just so you like it and when render and everything falls/hits/smashes differently. however, this tutrotial really made my day. best from germany – roman
    ps: we’ve actually met at ae ny, in case you remember – in case this helps – the guy with the strange german accent 😉

  • I was just watching a tut on fxPhd and they did this in 3dMax and I was wondering how to do it in c4d.Nice.

  • Alright, I’ve made it all the way through part one, and things are looking great. I’ll be watching out for part 2.

  • como siempre increible nick!!!!!!!

    you’re the “man”

  • Nice one Nick!

    Was really cheering you on with that Solid Body tag!

    Very enjoyable as usual. Much appreciated!

  • Hey nick,
    Is this technique possible if your image is panoramic? For example say I have a panorama that sweeps around 360 degrees… can I somehow use camera mapping on it? Thanks!

  • Thank you again Nick, really love the C4D tuts and the Web is lacking quality ones like this.

    Awesome awesome job. Can’t wait for PT2.

  • nick thx for u exist AUHUHAUHA yeah someone should take the attitude and disseminate the lessons of cinema 4d

  • This is great Nick, taking it to the next level.

  • thanks for sharing so much knowledge, I have learned a lot with your tutorials, thank you very much

  • another classic.

    Keep um coming Nick!

  • I thought I would test out the tutorial and do some post too 😉 Thanks for the awesome direction Nick.. I copied the style best I could which I guess is not too beneficial, it was more of an experiment!

    Rendered at 5fps because GI is just way too slow on this macbook.. Mac Pro coming on the 16th!

    • Hi Jon
      Is there any AO?
      and you managed to find a big grass pic as I can see. That’s nice, but you should interact with it, when the letters come down.
      You can add some hair /grass/ on the ground and do some compositing with elements coming from the ground when the text BOMBS.
      I mean some dust, air etc… as now the Text seems BIG for the land 🙂

      Although it’s Good 🙂
      I liked the flare 🙂

    • I can only reply to my post so uh, no ambient occlusion, I thought I could get away with out using it. I use particles instead of a lens flare too, waiting for optical flares woo!

      I agree that the text just plops down on the grass and did consider using hair to make grass and use the text as a hair collider, that would look awesome.

      I dont have a seperate ae filter for depth of field either which sucks, I have to work that out. Thanks for the comment!

  • Nice Job as usual Gorilla!
    Can you tell us How do you do yellow lens flare in final rendering please?

  • Outstanding! Thanks Nick.

  • Thanks Nick for this AWESOME tutorial!! I had a little trouble with the step effector part (changing settings didn’t do much on my text), so I played around with the Rigid Body Tag settings to make the right effect. I guess it’s whatever gets the job done right? Looking forward to the second part.

  • Really useful tutorial. Thanks Nick

  • Desde Spain: Veryyyy thknssss, cooll stufff..

  • Hey, Nick

    Can you put some project files in Part 2.
    I mean .c4d .aep together with the footage etc.

    That would be really nice. for the followers of the tutorial.
    ofcourse you can watermarked it… 🙂


  • Oh wow awesome!

    Thanks Nick.

  • Great tutorial! ) Thanks, Nick.

  • Nick = AWESOME
    Thanks for all the great stuff.

  • looking forward to watching this when I get a minute, been wanting to try this out

  • thx man , it gave me a good new knowledge.

    seeya in stockholm

  • Looking forward to part 2, superb tut as per usual!

  • Hey great tut Nick,

    I started my text in a urban environment, with a shadow falling over half of the foreground. Looking forward to getting it to move soon.

  • Nick you safed my life…! Since 2008 I´ve been desperately trying to learn maya and I hated it. Too many windows too many buttons! As I stumbled across your blog and saw the interface of C4d I decided to try Cinema instead… and I love it! And thx for all the other stuff…. GSG rocks!

    • Thanks, Chris. I’m so glad you’re here and not screwing with Maya anymore. 🙂 Let me know if you have questions.

    • Too true, I’d been messing with C4D for about 6 months and loved it, then uni told me to use maya so it I trained in that for 8 months solid with pretty crappy results, now I’m back where I belong… I love this shit. Great work Nick.

  • HELP!
    I can’t make the Mograph Text Object to make every letter a separate dynamics object-particle-thing. I’ve tried to do everything over again and do everything exactly as you did, but still, the text object is behaving like a single box of text, the different letters won’t move separately.

    I don’t really know what I did wrong, is there any settings I may have forgotten about?

    thanks for the help, great tutorial!

  • Yep, that’s what I’ve done. It still acts just the way it did when it was in the fracture object. I have all the necessary plugins and everything, so I don’t understand why they still don’t interacting separately.

  • This is a great one Nick! Thanks for the tutorial!

  • you handsome devil, I bet you get the babes 😉

  • YOU ARE THE MAN, Nick, very needed tutorial, well explained and perfect.
    May the force be with you.

  • thanks. great useful demo as usual. you probably know this, but rather than scaling the whole scene in a null to change the mass and apparent speed of fall i think you could also just increase the global time scale and/or gravity in the dynamics tab of the modynamics project settings. you can also “stop time” with that same tab by keyframing the time to 0. i think it has the same effect as scaling the whole scene but is a bit quicker perhaps.

    • Excellent tip Ronaldo. That works. I did that but took it a step further by adding a Mograph Cache tag to the text object, baked the animation then turned the global time scale back to normal. The speed of the text object remains the same as when you baked it after you return the time setting back to normal.

  • Dumb question, how do you get the handles on the XYZ axis so that you can move it freely in C4D?
    I had in R10 but now I can’t figure it out in R11

  • Greetings Nick,
    I have found it difficult to select just the right picture to work on a project like this. Is there anything specific to look for Composition wise or certain things to avoid? I thought about doing something as a test with a picture similar to this:
    But cant figure out how many planes to use and where to put them.. Think you can give some pointers? Thanks!

  • hey sniffles,
    your voice has changed since ive been back…. a little higher. Congrats on the recognition on aetuts and several other places your gorilla self has appeared. just not diggin the voice change i know you probably have more skill in the cracks of you wacom tab than i have in my entire mind….but go retro. or you will become an honorary lion from the d.

  • Very nice tutorial Nick. I was just wondering. You show us the finished scene first and then you start the tutorial. So you’ve made the scene before but still you get stuck sometimes (like with the falling text). How come? Did you forget how you did it the first time?
    Just wondering caus I love the problem-solving process you show in the video. 🙂

    • Hi Zwoep, he actually says on the video: “mmm how did I do this?” So I guess he did it first, and then when trying to do the same, he forgot one step (happens to people that knows too much, sometimes there’re different ways to achieve the same result and they don’t know which way they’ve used)
      I love the problem solving process too 🙂

    • Yeah, I did the scene and rendered it once before the tutorial. There were a few days difference that and the recording, so remembering EXACTLY how to do it was difficult. This is really what it’s all about though. There is no ONE way to do things. It’s all about knowing what to try next to get the desired result.

  • Hey Nick,
    Great tutorial!!! Thank you so much for all the help!

  • Thanks, going to work through the tut now 🙂 I excited 😀

  • thanx again nick, best tutorials as always!

  • Trying to dome some mapping myself. But, I have a problem. I am using textured, kind of concrete letters with the text object, but when the letters fall down with mograph the texture stays on it’s place and not sticked to the letters. Anyone an idea how to solve this?

  • Totally nice..
    thanx man..

    but somehow my “background” do not show when i set tje projection to “camera” instead of “frontal” …

    keep up the great work

  • Very nice tutorial!
    Could you give some more info on the gamma parameter in the GI setttings, and why it’s important to get it right?

    • Gamma is a tough question to answer quickly, but for new, just know that you have to match your monitor’s settings output to get a more realistic render. I’m looking into plugins like “DeGamma” to help this process.

  • great tutorial!! thanks. Would this be posible with video as a background?

  • Thanks Nick. I have version 10.5 and the Rigid body tag is not part of Mograph. What do i do to make the text bounce around?

  • Awesome tutorial Nick.
    I’ve got a problem with how Modynamics render to picture viewer.
    You see, when I hit render in general view, letters collide and bounce differently from when I hit shift+r. All the animation gets fucked up as a result.
    Both project and output framerate is 30 fps.

  • Just watched your MoGraph 2 intro and tried to bake the sequence.
    Now it works like a charm hehe.

  • GREAT JOB MAN ) – THX))) helloa from Moldova.

    really appreciate what you are doing!!! – i was just planning to figure out all this GI thing ) – i’ve too noticed that it’s really counts ) – and i didn;t looKed in google )-

    A one really GooD consequence )

    into the CG myself )
    OF COURCE CINE 4D is the best ! ) – this is Twoo )

    TNX )

  • Hey Nick Im using C4D r11 and Letter wont cast a shadow onto the floor with the Compositing Backgrund box checked and when theat’s not checkedthe floor plane is discolored. Did I miss something?

  • Hey Gorilla!

    Great tutorial! Thanks for that!

    One Question:
    If want to insert 2 text objects like “Nice House” and make them start falling at 2 different frames, how would you do that? Like “House” is coming down, 2 sec later “nice” is coming down in front of “House”?

    Sorry for my bad english, school is long ago 😉

    Greetings from munich,

  • Thanks a lot Nick!!!! This is the best tutorial I have ever seen!!! Really thanks!!!
    Also Waiting for some Hair module tuts!!!!

  • What do you do if you dont have mograph2 for the animation part.


  • Your tutorial is amazing, the best of the web.

    Very practice!!!

    best regards

  • Nice, you are on videocopilot in the blog with your tutorial, thanks

  • Thanks a lot Nick for this tutorial, as this technique is something I have been wanting to learn. At the risk of sounding like a dummy, however, I get really confused pretty early on in the process. I’ve got my photo loaded as a material, but it looks squished. My picture is of a skyscraper and is vertically oriented, does the photo need to be landscape? More importantly, I’ve got my background added to the scene and the material linked to it. But I cannot adjust the background plane. Your background plane that you used to set the perspective of the camera has handles, and mine does not. I am very new to C4D, and I’m not certain that I am explaining my questions in the most clear way. Am I missing something that you hit on the keyboard or a tool that you selected to enable the ability to move the background? Any help that you or anyone could provide would be most appreciated. Thanks!

  • those microphones are suppose to be talked into from the side not from the top ! anyway , great graphic stuff

  • love your work man!!
    i appreciate what you are doing!!
    good job

  • I can’t figure out why every time I try and set up a depth pass, and I set everything up like the camera, multipass image and all the rest, as soon as I press Shift+R to render my images always come out all black :/

    Any ideas anyone please?

  • the little switch next to the camera that you say click to come out of camera, it wont switch black to white when i click it.

  • Hey Nick!
    What’s the trick using Mograph on a font or logo that you create in Illustrator, and that you have extruded in C4D?
    Mograph works great with text, but doesn’t seem to have any affect on the illustrator/extruded object.


    • Drop the extrusion into a Fracture Object like he tried in the tutorial. Then add the Rigid Body tag and MoDyn will recognize the object.

      I believe other effectors will work with it too.

  • Great video nick! I’m having a bit of a newbie problem though. My text isn’t casting any shadows for some reason, I’ve tried a normal light as well but no luck. Any suggestions? Thanks and keep up the great tuts 🙂

  • Hi Nick,
    I’m trying to do this tutorial, but when i add the rigid body to mine Text layer and one on mine plane the Text falls solid but the lettres doesn’t fall seperated. What did i do wrong !? i followed everything step by step… I have Mograph 2 and C4D 11.5.

    • Hi Paul, I had a similar problem, and here’s how I solved it: In the MoText Dynamics Body Attributes, go down to collision and in the individual elements drop-down menu, select “all”. That worked for me in R12, tell me how it goes in 11.5..

  • When I put in the move camera and zoom in slightly it seems the material on the ground plane becomes distorted, it still looks fine in the projector camera, has anyone else had this problem, if so help would be much appreciated..

  • he gorilla,

    great tut!!! i’ve joined your clan since 3 weeks..! actually started with cinema after watching one of your tutorials! cheers for that!
    question: ( just started not so long ago with cinema so it’s probably a easy/stupid mistake)
    when i play it in the building mode, the letters drop fine.. but when i render it the letters drop different.. and makes it ugly again. do you know what i did wrong?

    cheers and keep up your style!


  • Hi Nick, I´m in the minute 22 of the first part, everything´s fine, but I can´t get the dark shadow that appears below the extruded text, the one on the grass, i´m projecting a beach image.
    Could you help, maybe there´s some function that I have not Checked.
    Thank You

  • Nice tutorial. One tip I might add is that is your friend in complex scenes.

  • I found orginal photo on
    Creative Commons-licensed content

  • ilike ur toturials it istoo good
    sometimes work with rebons howcan animate

  • Hi Nick

    I accidentally stumbled upon your website the other day via and have pretty much stayed here ever since 🙂

    Your lecture on working as a freelancer has left me wanting to put my hand up and hanging my head in shame. I guess it’s high time I sorted out my website and made a demo real?

    Anywho, I just thought I’d say thanks for sharing all of this wonderful content with us, especially this tutorial in particular. I’d been thinking about delving into matchmoving but this tutorial has saved me having to buy expensive software and a video camera 🙂

    If you’d like to check out what I did whilst following this tutorial then see this short test animation:

    All critique welcome.

    Cheers Nick, amazing resource.

    All the best

    Glyn Davidson

  • hey guys how do you move the bloody floor :/
    i just cant seem to move it to fit my scene

  • hi nick.

    I can’t seem to get the texture to work.
    once i switch from the default projection to camera projection the texture disappears.
    I’ve tried over and over but the plane just gets rendered grey.

    can you please help?

    thank you

  • Thanks, this is fantastic. And thanks again.

  • I’ve been a GCG junkie since I found your site!!!
    Best tuts, very helpful, BIG thanks 🙂
    …and a small question for this tut..If I wanted to add reflections on the ground?

  • I keep getting seems where the planes come together. Any suggestions on how to fix that?

  • Hey Nick,
    Great tutorial. I can’t get the texture to move with the camera. They get mapped to the planes, but when the camera moves the texture stays in place, even though the planes move. Can’t figure it out. I camera mapped the texture and I’m on r12.

    There’s actually a camera move here:

  • Fantastic tutorial thank you!

    I have the same question as Yiannis. How do I add a reflection to the floor plane – whilst not affecting the original image. If the floor was a reflective surface, not grass. How do I get the text to reflect on the floor?

    Please help

    • Al agregar una reflexión ya estas alterando una de las características del material como tal. Aun así la imagen de ese plano seguira siendo la misma. No se a que llamas alterar. Tal ves tu respuesta este en cuadrar de una mejor manera el brillo y el tipo de reflexión que usas, para encontrar el efecto deseado.

  • I was wondering if there is a tutorial where to camera map a cityscape. Something like a 3D looking city. I have trying with AE importing vpe from PS but it goes too slowly. Perhaps there is a better way with C4D for buldings etc.

  • I made this tutorial some time ago with v11.5. I´m trying to do it again with v12 and Mograph doesn´t behave the same way. Letters are always connected.It seems a block. What can i do to break into individual letters using only one Mograph text object? Thanks!

    • I don’t know if it’s still relevant for you as you’ve posted this 6 months ago, but I just ran into the same problem with R12 now so I thought I’d comment.
      You need to go into the MoText controls, under the Dynamics Body tab, open the Collision tab and turn the ‘Individual Elements’ to ‘All’.

  • Hi Nick. I noticed that you didn’t change your Stochastic Sambles and Record density under your global illumination settings back to medium before your render. Was that intentional so that it would render faster for the tutorial or do you normally leave it a low?

  • I coudent see the tutorial.

    any one help me?

  • Hello, any idea how to achieve camera movement without scaling textures in r12??

  • Got way lost right from the start. Maybe you could include your source files so it’s a little easier to duplicate what you’re doing

  • If anyone else is going barking mad trying to follow along and is desperate for the photo used in this tutorial. Here is a link to it
    How did i find it ? Well i noted the name of the file when he opens his file browser, typed it into google, and Voila, along came flickr with the image. Clever right 😀

  • This tutorial isn’t for all beginners. I had to learn a few things in Cinema 4D b4 I could fully wrap my head around some of these concepts. Now that I understand the program more, this Tut was a breeze to understand!!! Excellent BTW! Keep up the excellent work Nick!!

  • I learnt cinema 4d for u only…
    Thank u very much …

  • Question Nick,

    I’m hoping you can help. I can’t seem to figure out how do a “front” camera projection without seeing the dark grey geometry in my renders. Setting the projection side to “both” wont work for me in this situation.
    I’m sort of in a bind.


  • hey nick question is this the same method on doing face camera sought of a 3d face camera projection im trying it with a 3d mesh shape and i projected the face to it but when i move the pic doesnt move with the image am i doing something wrong i could do it with other things like a house or building but not face on a 3d object could you the way i love this tutorial and the others

  • Hi, could you give me the subtitle of the video! Because I speak Spanish! And it will be easier to translate the subtitles in your language! Please! Greetings from Uruguay! I leave my mail:

  • Hey Gorilla. So, I have worked a lot in Apple’s motion, and whenever I build a 3D space out of an image, I have to correctly align it’s sides with the other just to make sure it is fluid. But, when I did this tutorial all I had to do was copy and past a new plane and then rotate the plane, but I didn’t physically have to move the image inside of that plane. Can you please explain to me how it knows what to do with the image and correctly align it. How is the grass not in the sky, how is the roof not on the floor? Is this a setting, or is this just what happens when you do frontal projection? Thanks, and I plan to catch up to your tutorials soon! Just started like a week ago.

  • i love your tuts dude they hv helpd me right from time….but can’t we hv a youtube version of these videos, vimeo sucks here…thanks..

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  • Nick. Just wanted to say THANKS for all this amazing information. You have helped me get into a world of imaging I didn’t think I ever thought i’d touch. But this stuff is very cool.

    Can you do the same thing with a live action moving video to put this into? I’m very new at this and was wanting to try to use the awesome abilities you have helped me with , to do my own logo for my films.

    Thanks in advance. Cheers.

  • Hey Nick! Thank you first of all for your work and for your kindness to all of C4D lovers. And specially for your incredible understanding tutorials ))) I have one idea after this one. Tomorrow i’ve read some information about cool feature – special Time track in timeline in C4D (I have 13 version, don’t know about presenting this in 12). I want to learn how to stop dynamics at any time and move camera across freeze scene, but can’t do it yet, unfortunatelly. So, how do you think, can this feature be helpful for first trouble in this tutorial with slow letters falling? Can we apply this special track to only text animation, not to camera moving track, rise its value, and have faster falling WITHOUT scaling the scene? Or can we just rise g=9,8 m/s or rise weight of letters? What is possibilities of Mograph? What do you think?
    Peace, Azaz2005

  • Could you potentially re-visit this tutorial and update the process using Projectionman and something perhaps a bit more challenging than the house shot? 🙂

  • Having an issue using Camera mapping texture setting. It doesnt seem to work at all. It is only visible in the frontal setting is this is not what I want. could you tell me why this is happing? Has anyone on here faced this problem?

  • Hi Nick ! thanks for the amazing tutorial
    I wanted to to do a mockup of a projector in cinema ( according to its real throw distance values ) for a projection mapping project so i could see how many projectors i would need for the space i’m using beforehand. Could it be done using camera mapping? if not then what else could be useful?

  • Hi Nick! Can you help me and explain, why after adding step effector and changin its settings, letters animation becomes different in viewport and picture viewer renders? How can I fix it?

  • When I try to let the text bounce on the floor, it just goes straight through the floor… How do I fix this?

  • Hee hello there.
    I finished part 1 & 2 but i got a problem. I have a car thats driving through a tunnel. And i dont get any shadows on the road of that car. How can i fix this ?
    If you want i can upload it and maybe you can help.. I`m really wondering what it can be.. thanks for the help in advance and i hope to get a reply.

    Goodbye from the netherlands.

  • Hey Gorilla

    This is a great tutorial I loved doing it, but I just wanted to point out when you get to the rigid body for the me the text still didn’t separate.

    No worries I was able to find the fix…. just wanted to point out that if other people are having this issue the solution is: Go to the COLLISION tab and select the INDIVIDUAL ELEMENTS tab from OFF to ALL and that will separate the text for you

    Thanks again Gorilla

  • Hello Nick,

    Thank you for the tutorial..
    I have some issue with the background image…whenever i try to scale or position my polygon it disappears in the background image. Is there a way to increase the background image distance from the camera?
    Also I am new to cinema 4D so can you please explain the steps to do it.


  • You go way too fast and forget to exlplain many things in your tutorials. For instance TURNING LEGACY ON in the Options/Configure/Back/World grid menu in this tutorial, so you can align the grid to the picture properly!! But thnx anyway…

  • I know you say you can use any photo but it would really help me if I had access to the image you used. Where can I download? Does anyone have it?

    Thank you

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