How to Make A 3D Composite with an iPhone, Panorama 360 and Cinema 4D

December 15, 2010

I’m really excited about this one. In this tutorial, I show you how to make a 3D composite with Cinema 4D and images taken with an iPhone! I used a popular iPhone app called 360 Panorama to capture a panoramic image that I then use to light a scene in Cinema 4D using Global Illumination. Even the background plate was taken with an iPhone camera!

It’s incredible that we can pull this kind of render off using images from our cell phone. I can’t wait to see what you guys create with this one! Sure, images taken with a professional set up would look better and give cleaner results, but when it comes to learning about this stuff, there is no need to always wait for “pro” equipment. You have to use what you got! Enjoy!

Example Images

Tutorial Focus:  , , ,
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  • I have a problem using sky and not your hdr ring light… when I apply GI the scene won’t light up… The text went all black. can you help me?

    • did you fix yours i need help dude

    • i fond the fix place two lights on the Motext and render it should work !

    • A work around I tried was to make sure that the sky was turned on (both green dots), and then added another plane on the -x axis (the same size as your final output window and pushed back beyond the text) with the same properties as the disc you created.
      I’m sure there’s a better way but that works for me at the moment!

    • Wimp’s solution (6 steps down) is perfect!
      No extra plains or lights, problem sorted.

  • Yep, I have the same problem as Miky! Just black text.

  • I’ve got the same problem as Miky…

  • Cool tutorial. But I must say, the first steps in photoshop seem quite.. Unnecessary.

    Why not just crop the image, pressing “C” in photoshop(atleast in windows)? Duplicating layers, feather masks and all that wont improve the end result, right, compared to a quick & simple crop? 🙂

    Hope you get the point. Keep it up! Will try this whem my wifes out, so I can sit by the computer.

    Thanks for a great site!

  • Yh i have the same problem when i apply gi it goes black and i dont have the hdr rig

  • I have the same problem :/

  • Check this(if not using the rig)

    Select the sky and click-> Tags -> Cinema 4d tags -> Compositing -> Uncheck “Seen by Camera”

    DONT make the two dots RED, they should be GREY! If not, the text will be black.

    Problem solved.

  • When trying to ‘fill in the gaps’ you could have just used content aware fill in CS5 – its magic at this type of thing.


  • Hey Nick!

    Greetings from Germany! First of all, i want to thank you for sharing your knowledge with others. I’ve been learning a lot and having so much fun since i found your blog. All tutorials i had found before (especially german tutorials) were somehow boring and too technically. You show me the fun and cool way of learning. Thank you so much!

  • I’m always interested in your great tutorial in Korea 🙂

  • Hey, just done my first test with this technique and your HDRI rig and it worked great. There is one issue though that confused me. I standing where I want my 3d object to be and make my panarama. I then walk away from that spot and turn back and take a photo. When I use that photo as a back ground, and then inport the panarama into the hdri rig, it appears much bigger/closer than the photo background I’m trying to match. This makes the lining up process very hard and throws the reflections out completely. Is there a step I missed where you can size the HDRI rig itself?


  • I always following your tutorials nick, but alos all your pages, but for this one i made my own version… 🙂

  • nice one dude!

  • This one I made with Google Streetview in Hamburg, Germany. You can find the Picture here:

  • THANKS! for all these great C4D tutorials, i’m just a beginner and I’m learning a lot from you.

  • Great Gorilla!

  • Hi, for some reason when I click on create new back ground…it doesn’t do anything is there something that I’m missing, or some setting that’s turned off.thanks

  • My hdr image seems like its scaled way to much s: i did not use the iphone app but i made my final hdr same resolution as nicks..

  • Hi, I can’t get my ambient occlusion to reflect on the floor,that’s all that I’m missing to finish,can anyone please help…Thanks

  • Hey Nick! I accepted your challenge and used this tutorial on video! It’s my final project for my motion class. Started using cinema4D 3 months ago.

    Give it a look! Thx for everything that you learned me!

  • i need a little helop. i love this tutorial because it has perfect mood and atmosphere. but when i follow your steps i am not getting back shadows on the compositing disc. i have done all the things the guys already said. but still nothing. any guess?

  • why can’t i watch this video~!?~ T_T~~~~~~

  • Hi, why my background not appear ?? it appear only when i make render, why so ?!


    Brazil !


    My attempt. Great tutorial as always. The text used is a local newspaper.

  • Hi Nick thanks for all this tutorials!
    i have a question:

    what if i want to make a reflection in the floor that integrates the 3d object with the backround? do you know how to do it?

    bye dude, thanks again!

  • Is that Logan Square?

  • How is the picture in a 16:9 format?
    does the new ipod touch have the same quality camera with the same picture size?

  • can someone explain to me how you do this with video?

  • Really good tutorial. I like to integrate 3d with real images. I’ve done some videos after seeing these tutorial.
    Check out the result 😉

    Keep Rocking those funky tuts!!

  • Hey Nick, great tutorial. Just a quick one I’m really struggling when I try and make my objects glass with this setup – is there anything special I need to consider? I’m getting very blurred and dark glass.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Great tutorial and great comments. What if I want to have longer and directional shadows, because the scene has a sun? Thanks!
    Best wishes!

  • Hi I love the tutorial i have a question what settings do you use to get the layers in after effects i trying it but im getting white line around the image thanks in advance

  • Thanks for this AWESOME tutorial!

    This was actually the very first time I opened up Cinema 4D so the result is not prefect but I am quite happy with my first attempt.

    I just love how a small device like an iPhone can do such powerful stuff

    Fun fact: Did you know NASA computers in ’69, when they sent the first men on the moon, were not as powerful as our iPhones… haha…

    Anyway, I actually added these 3D renders to a little video I made…

    Hope you enjoy it, and any comments/hints for improvements are more then welcome!

  • don’t you think the effect works better without reflections ?

  • Wich font did you use to this text???
    Thankss.. Hugs…

  • Update:
    Try ‘photosynth’ for iphone. Just amazing.
    It creates completely closed 360 spheres.

    • By the way, nice tutorial nick!
      Maybe think about another tutorial using scenespector ‘cinecat’/’voocat’ or ‘icarus’ for 3D video tracking and composing stuff into a video captured with the iphone. Might be really interesting.

  • Hey Nick!.. Just wondering if you could help me! I’ve done some footage but I didn’t use the app for a Panorama 360, Is there a way I could get this result without using it – cheating even more – I doubt it’s possible, but your the man!!

  • Great tutorial !

    I think it work fine with Photosynth application from Microsoft.

  • Hi Nick, thx so much for all your great tutorials. the most fun is to have such a stylish result all the time.

    I seem to make everything right but i have no shadows from the text in the final render. any help ?

    cheers !

  • Hey Nick (if you still read these comments) and everybody else. I made a minute-and-a-half video with character animation and lighting i learned from this tutorial. It’s my response to Nicks challenge to do this with animation.

  • So I’ve been watching your videos for what seems like forever now and I was wondering, why don’t you ever sync the audio to the video? There is a simple way to do this: Just turn on your camera and turn on your mic, have them both recording then clap.
    When editing put the 2 clap noises from the video and you mic together and its synced.

  • I’ve been following the GSG tutorials for a while now but this is my first comment.

    I gave this one a go but since i dont have an iPhone.. i decided to take a different approach and took a series of screenshots in crysis (the computer game) and used photomerge in photoshop to assemble them, it actually turned it pretty good..

    The only issue i noticed with this cheat.. is that when you place your plane down to get the shadows.. your word or whatever it is you are rendering.. actually reflects this plane and you see a clear line across the face of your letters where the plane ends, the only real way for this to be avoided is if you shoot the image for your background from either almost directly above or from ground level.. or having a matt object of course.

    anyway, love your tutorials, good luck to anyone else attempting this one and good night to everybody from new zealand 🙂

    • a hint for people attempting this in the future.. instead of using a sky sphere… you can actually more easily project the panorama onto the inside of a tube object, just make sure it has a wide open inside and make it tall so you dont reflect what would be above the tube.. or add an extra image of a sky and of the floor for a better render.. though it takes more time

  • Hey Nick, thank you sooo much for all you teached and teach me.
    As always, very good content, really clearly explained and the funny way. Love it.
    In photoshop, instead of creating a new layer, selecting all and doing the copy paste thing, you can just press “cmd+option+shift+E” to combine visible into a new layer.
    Hope this trick can be helpful and speed up a bit your workflow.
    Keep up the good work.

  • This amazing tutorial inspired me to create a series from Photos I have taken on my travels. Feedback welcome as it’s my first go at this technique. Thanks

  • I like photosynth more. its FREE and takes full globe panoramas. 🙂 great tut!

  • Would it be possible to make a video like this? So using the same method then in addition to recording some video and then adding some camera tracking? That would be really cool! thanks.

  • Hello, I doubt that you took a video about my class? do the tutorial in how far you will hdri.c4d plugin to insert the image in my c4d, do not have this plugin, where to purchase this plugin. Thanks waiting for reply.

  • Olá, gostaria que vc tirasse uma dúvida minha quanto a video aula? faço o tutorial até aonde vc vai no plugin hdri.c4d para inserir na imagem, no meu c4d, nao tem esse plugin, aonde comprar esse plugin. obrigado aguardando resposta.

  • This is very cool. Thank you. You challenged to do this with video. Could you please show us how we could do something like this in a video with say, a person or any moving object from the video (ie: cars) moving in front of the 3D object in the scene? All while still having interaction and reaction on the 3D object (ie: reflection, shadows, etc.) Would that involve rotoscoping or is there an easier way? I think we would all be grateful for a tutorial on that. Thanks in advance.

  • Great tutorial Nick! How do you make the text “stick” on the disc? Can’t do that!

  • it can be done with video?

  • This is the resulting image, merging text and Logo Type together and following your tutorial step by tep all the tips. I guess it’s not that bad, is it?

  • bachtiardesign June 2, 2013 at 3:17 am

    what a great tutorial from d’master -gorilla,..i’m stuck when GI effects make the text becomes dark..>o<'s take a long time to search the solution,..when trys wimp's solution it's work..thanks Wimp ^ ^..

  • Thank for the awesome tutorial, this is what i acomplished
    I would like to know the quality of this composition so feel free to comment 🙂

  • Oooh, I really like both of those. Which would you be more comfortable in? I know that you love wearing tights and those types of tops, but the maxi would be extremely summery!

  • Thank u Gorilla!
    Here´s my design. At the bottom of the page.

  • Thank you Nick
    Good Tuto like always.
    You’re a cool guy !

    Nego / Martinique – FWI

  • Hi nick,
    I really likes your all tutorials. I have a problem in this tutorial, when i open the background image its open upside down and down side up, or down side left or right. How i rotate it or make it straighten?
    Thank you

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