Get Lucky with Cinema 4D

Sport betting is on the rise everywhere and China is no exception. Betting offices are creating adverts to attract an increasing number of players – and Cinema 4D is at the creative forefront.

When China Sports Lottery approached Cinema 4D artist Yan Ge to create an advert for sports betting, several parameters had already been defined: They wanted to combine 3D elements with live footage. In the confines of a warmly furnished workroom, a narrator was to tell the story of how a lucky guy had won the lottery. This had to be illustrated in a cartoon style and take place across the length of the desk. The scene begins with an actor who tells that he won the lottery and then lays the ticket on the desk.

The ticket then unfolds and transforms into a betting office, which is where the winner bought his ticket. This and all other scenes that unfold on the desk were created in Cinema 4D and composited into the live footage. In the course of the film, streets and tunnels emerge, busses and taxis drive by, a thunderstorm erupts, restaurants pop up and speech bubbles constantly appear that comment on what is happening.
Combining 3D elements with live footage in this manner is something that has only rarely been seen in Chinese television – which is exactly why China Sports Lottery decided to use this method. The tool used to achieve this was Cinema 4D’s Motion Tracker feature, which has been available since Release 16. With the Motion Tracker, markers can be added to existing footage, which are then tracked by the software. This movement information can then be passed on to a camera in Cinema 4D and in turn mix the virtual scene with live footage. If the lighting mood of the live footage needs to be applied to the rendered elements in the virtual scene, HDR images can be used in conjunction with image-based lighting to do so.

That sums up the advert’s basic concept in a nutshell. However, a wide range of additional tools was needed to complete the intricate story. Artists Rong and Ma handled everything related to Cinema 4D in this project. In the scene in which a bridge appears out of nowhere, they worked extensively with the Polygon Warp to Spline function, which made it possible to design the bridge elements before creating the animation. This made it easier to make changes without affecting existing animations.
The final sequences are the advert’s crowning element. The lottery-winning hero floats in a balloon together with his sweetheart over a picturesque virtual landscape at the end of the desk. Rong and Ma made extensive use of Cinema 4D’s Hair feature to create and animate the vegetation on the cliffs and hills as well as the grass from which the balloon took off. The artists remarked: “We also used XFrog vegetation but the lion’s share of the work was definitely done in Cinema 4D!” The clouds in these sequences and the storm clouds earlier in the animation were created with Thinking Particles using a semi-transparent shader. After the elements had been rendered, they were composited for the final film in After Effects.

Looking back at the project, Rong and Ma say, “Working with a feature like the Motion Tracker is not as easy as it sounds. Because the scene had to be done in a single take, we had to track the footage several times until we had all markers properly set so the camera movement could be accurately reproduced and in turn carried over to the virtual camera in Cinema 4D.

Rong and Ma are students of Yan Ge, who is a certified Cinema 4D instructor:

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