March 11, 2013

Quiqueck & Hämat - Proll Out

Two nutty aliens crash into a UFO full of alien vagabonds – a potentially hillarious situation, and one that was animated using MAXON Cinema 4D.

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The aliens Quiqueck and Hämat (heh-maat) look like your stereotypical aliens: pale skin, huge dark eyes and an antenna on their heads. These quirky guys are the creation of German 3D artists Thomas Zeug, who created the characters for a series of audio books that tell the story of Quiqueck and Haemat’s crazy galactic adventures. By the time Thomas decided to make his characters stars of an animated film he had already defined their most important characteristics: how they look, their personalities, voices and the overall style in which they were to be animated. He wanted the animations to retain the slapstick style of the audio books with the added twist of humorous visuals.

The project’s concept may have been set in stone but the question of which software would be used to realize the project remained open. The software with which Thomas had worked to this point would have been completely overwhelmed by this project. After doing some research, Thomas decided to use MAXON Cinema 4D. He used it to create everything from the aliens themselves to all space ships, animations, lighting and, of course, rendering. The final rendering was done using Cinema 4D’s Multi-Pass function, which renders elements to different layers. These layers were then composited in Adobe After Effects where color correction and other effects were added.

Cinema 4D’s seamless connectivity to Adobe AfterEffects was a major factor in making Cinema 4D such a universal 3D tool for Thomas. As Thomas began working on this project, the stereoscopic feature set had not yet been integrated into Cinema 4D. But he wanted to render his film in stereoscopic 3D, so he created his own camera preset using a custom XPresso tool he designed, which delivered basic stereoscopic capabilities. Thomas remembers, “Thanks to the excellent connectivity between Cinema 4D and AfterEffects I was able to make subsequent changes even in 3D space.

Since the Proll Out audio books were already available prior to the animations, the audio tracks were edited before work began on the scenes. These tracks were loaded into Cinema 4D as sound tracks and used as a reference for lip-syncing. Of course all other sounds were also synchronized. The movement of the aliens’ mouths and their facial expressions were created using Morph tags. Morph tags can contain numerous morph targets, which can consist of facial expressions, eye or mouth positions, and can be activated or deactivated as desired to create an animation. The F-Curves in the Timeline can then be used to interpolate between the various positions.

Thomas has gotten to know Cinema 4D very well in the four years that Thomas has been working on the project. His impression of Cinema 4D is influenced by his work as a filmmaker and someone who wants to maintain maximum control over his project at all times. “It’s extremely easy to learn and you quickly realize that there are almost no limits to what you can do with CINEAMA 4D!” an amused Thomas adds. “It’s not fair because with almost no limits you’re always thinking of new stuff to add to the story!

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