March 7, 2011

Tearing Things Up With Cinema 4D

As the Germans say, "Paper is patient" - and it's also quite versatile.

It can be printed on, folded, written on, crumpled and even torn apart. As easy as all of this is to do in real life, the more difficult it is when you want to create a video in which all of these tasks are shown: is the lighting correct? Has the camera been set up properly? How's the angle? Is everything in focus? And all this before we even mention how elaborate it can be to render such simple procedures and make them visually interesting. Camera operator and director will quickly become frustrated and begin searching for alternatives.

Robert Hranitzky probably went through the same dilemma as he mulled over how to create the opener for the showreel of a leading special effects and video effects studio. A nearly rectangular piece had to rip itself out of a white sheet of paper, roll itself up, making the blue background behind it visible on which the studio's logo would appear.

Robert wanted to accurately create the look of torn paper and originally planned to use real-world elements, i.e. a real camera and a real sheet of paper. However, this method had its limitations. Robert quickly changed his approach and decided to create virtual objects using Cinema 4D. The look of the paper had to be as authentic as possible, which Robert achieved via numerous material tests. The knowledge he acquired about fibers, grain and paper structure flowed directly into the creation of the model he used for animation as well as in the design of the paper material itself.

Despite the scene's simple geometry, the challenging one-week deadline was increased dramatically when the client informed Robert they wanted a second version of the clip.

After completing the project, Robert noted: "…high-quality textures and Cinema 4D's excellent connectivity to After Effects made it possible to achieve a high-end look within a very short period of time. And thanks to Muli-Pass rendering it was even possible to create that second version." Cinema 4D's infamously fast render engine and the Network Renderer were integral parts of the production pipeline. Compositing and fine-tuning was done in After Effects. This is also where I added depth of field, motion blur and color correction for the images.


Robert Hranitzky