Tag Archives: motion graphics

Review: Red Giant Trapcode Suite 14

By Brady Betzel

Every year we get multiple updates to Red Giant’s Adobe After Effects plug-in behemoth, Trapcode Suite. The 14th update to the Trapcode suite is small but powerful and brings significant updates to Version 3 of Trapcode as well as Form (Trapcode Form 3 is a particle system generator much like Particular, but instead of the particles living and dying they stay alive forever as grids, 3D objects and other organic shapes). If you have the Trapcode Suite from a previous purchase the update will cost $199, and if you are new the suite costs $999, or $499 with an academic discount.

Particular 3 UI

There are three updates to the Suite that warrant the $199 upgrade fee: Trapcode 3, Form 3 and Tao 1.2 update. However, you still get the rest of the products with the Trapcode Suite 14: Mir 2.1, Shine 2.0, Lux 1.4, 3D Stroke 2.6, Echospace 1.1, Starglow 1.7, Sound Keys 1.1 and Horizon 1.1

First up is the Tao 1.2 update. Trapcode Tao allows you to create 3D geometric patterns along a path in After Effects. If you do a quick YouTube search of Tao you will find some amazing examples of what it can do. In the Tao 1.2 update Red Giant has added a Depth-of-Field tool to create realistic bokeh effects on your Tao objects. It’s a simple but insanely powerful update that really gives your Tao creations a sense of realism and beauty. To enable the new Depth-of-Field, wander over to the Rendering twirl-down menu under Tao and either select “off” or “Camera Settings.” It’s pretty simple. From there it is up to your After Effects camera skills and Tao artistry.

Trapcode Particular 3
Trapcode Particular is one of Red Giant’s flagship plugins and it’s easy to see why. Particular allows you to create complex particle animations within After Effects. From fire to smoke to star trails, it can pretty much do whatever your mind can come up with, and Version 3 has some powerful updates, including the overhauled Trapcode Particular Designer.

The updated designer window is very reminiscent of the Magic Bullet Designer window, easy and natural to use. Here you design your particle system, including the look, speed and overall lifespan of your system. While you can also adjust all of these parameters in the Effects Window dialog, the Designer gives an immediate visual representation of your particle systems that you can drag around and see how it interacts with movement. In addition you can see any presets that you want to use or create.

Particular 3

In Particular 3, you can now use OBJ objects as emitters. An OBJ is essentially a 3D object. You can use the OBJ’s faces, vertices, edges, and the volume inside the object to create your particle system.

The largest and most important update to the entire Trapcode Suite 14 is found within Particular 3, and it is the ability to add up to eight particle systems per instance of Particular. What does that mean? Well, your particle systems will now interact in a way that you can add details such as dust or a bright core that can carry over properties from other particle systems in the same same instance, adding the ability to create way more intricate systems than before.

Personally, the newly updated Designer is what allows me to dial in these details easily without trying to twirl down tons of menus in the Effect Editor window. A specific use of this is that you want to duplicate your system and inherit the properties, but change the blend mode and/or colors, simply you click the drop down arrow under system and click “duplicate.” Another great update within the multiple particle system update is the ability to create and load “multi-system” presets quickly and easily.

Now, with all of these particle systems mashed together you probably are wondering, “How in the world will my system be able to handle all of these when it’s hard to even playback a system in the older Trapcode Suite?” Well, lucky for us Trapcode Particular 3 is now OpenGL — GPU-accelerated and allowing for sometimes 4x speed increases. To access these options in the Designer window, click the cogwheel on the lower edge of the window towards the middle. You will find the option to render using the CPU or the GPU. There are some limitations to the GPU acceleration. For instance, when using mixed blend modes you might not be able to use certain GPU acceleration types — it will not reflect the proper blend mode that you selected. Another limitation can be with Sprites that are QuickTime movies; you may have to use the CPU mode.

Last but not least, Particular 3’s AUX system (a particle system within the main particle system) has been re-designed. You can now choose custom Sprites as well as keyframe many parameters that could not be keyframed before.

Form 3 UI

Trapcode Form 3
For clarification, Trapcode Particular can create particle emitters that emit particles that have a life, so basically they are born and they die. Trapcode Form is a particle system that does not have a life — it is not born and it does not die. Some practical examples can be a ribbon like background or a starfield. These particle systems can be made from 3D models and even be dynamically driven by an audio track. And much like Particular’s updated Designer, Form 3 has an updated designer that will help you build you particle array quickly and easily. Once done inside the Designer you can hop out and adjust parameters in the Effects Panel. If you want to use pre-built objects or images as your particles you can load those as Sprites or Textured Polygons and animate their movement.

Another really handy update in Trapcode Form 3 is the addition of the Graphing System. This allows you to animate controls like color, size, opacity and dispersion over time.

Just like Particular, Form reacts to After Effect’s cameras and lights, completely immersing them into any scene that you’ve built. For someone like me, who loves After Effects and the beauty of creations from Form and Particular but who doesn’t necessarily have the time to create from scratch, there is a library of over 70 pre-built elements. Finally, Form has added a new rendering option called Shadowlet rendering which adds light falloff to your particle grid or array.

Form 3

Summing Up
In the end, the Trapcode Suite 14 has significantly updated Trapcode Particular 3 with multiple particle systems, Trapcode Form 3 with a beautiful new Designer, and Trapcode Tao with Depth-of-Field, all for an upgrade price of $199. Some Trapcode Particular users have been asking for the ability to build and manipulate multiple particle systems together, and Red Giant has answered their wishes.

If you’ve never used the Trapcode Suite you should also check out the rest of the mega-bundle which includes apps like Shine, 3D Stroke, Starglow, MIr, Lux, Sound Keys, Horizon and Echospace here. And if you want to get more in-depth rundowns of each of these programs check out Harry Frank’s (@graymachine) and Chad Perkin’s tutorials on the Red Giant News website. Then immediately follow @trapcode_lab and @RedGiantNews on Twitter.

If you want to find out more about the other tools in the Trapcode Suite check out my previous two-part review of Suite 13 here on postPerspective: http://postperspective.com/review-red-giants-trapcode-suite-13-part-1 and http://postperspective.com/review-red-giant-trapcode-suite-13-part-2.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

Behind the Title: Undefined Creative founder/CD Maria Rapetskaya

NAME: Maria Rapetskaya

COMPANY: Undefined Creative

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Undefined Creative is a Brooklyn-based media production agency specializing in motion graphics.

Our portfolio spans television, digital marketing, social media and live events, making us the perfect studio for big brands, agencies and networks looking to establish holistic creative partnerships. We deliver premium-grade motion media, at fair and transparent prices, on time, on budget, on the mark and with a personal touch.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Founder/Creative Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
There are two sides to my job: the entrepreneur and the creative. The “entrepreneur” is the founder part, and that makes me responsible for nearly everything, even if only in a supervising or approval role.

I am responsible for the majority of business development. I set the company vision and work on the strategy to get there. I work in tandem with my executive producer on marketing. I oversee finances and operations, and do a good deal of maintaining client relationships.

The “creative” part of my job is being the creative director of a boutique. This encompasses setting the aesthetic direction of the studio in general and each project in particular. Communication with clients about all aspects of a project, and guiding the creative along the production process and — since we are a boutique — a good deal of hands-on production. I love that last part, since I never wanted to get away entirely from actually DOING what I love.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Being both an entrepreneur and a creative director is primarily about managing people. I have to manage our clients by setting realistic expectations without creating negative sentiments, or guiding them effectively through the process so that they understand and appreciate the creative decisions and directions we’re taking.

I also have to manage my team, making sure that everyone understands, for example, that there are objective and subjective comments when it comes to my critiques. The objective comments are not a judgment on anyone’s aesthetic, but a way to develop the best solution for the problem at hand. If I fail to do any of these, all I wind up with is miserable clients and miserable co-workers. So, in essence, the success of this studio depends in a large part on my ability to communicate accurately, efficiently, courteously and emphatically.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Getting unsolicited happy feedback from our clients. We’ve gotten such amazing notes following project delivery. It’s part of our company mission to never forget that our clients are people, so knowing that we made them look good, that their experience of working with us was enjoyable… that they’re less stressed out because they know we’ll take good care of them. All these things really inspire and encourage all of us here.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Experiencing a project I was really excited about become drudgery. It happens and it happens everywhere, to all creatives. There’s usually a combination of factors that contribute to this, like deadlines getting pushed up suddenly and significantly, or a lot of voices in the approval process pulling in completely different directions that are incompatible. I’ve learned over the course of my career to keep a healthy distance from my work, and that helps me manage my reactions, stay focused and motivated. But I’m still human, and even if I don’t get bummed, it’s hard to see the occasional disappointment in the team when this kind of stuff happens.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
Whatever I can squeeze in before 9am. Zero distractions, plenty of caffeine.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d do something that combines people, travel, teaching/mentoring and health/wellness.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
I was always into, and good at, art. So once I recognized that the only high school classes I was super-excited about were my art classes, I knew I could do this for a living. I come from a creative family of people who love to work for themselves, so even starting a company of my own wasn’t a big surprise. However, with respect to the specific discipline I chose being animation and motion graphics that was pretty random. I picked animation as a college major by default, on the advice and encouragement of an older friend who was graduating from the animation department when I was a freshman. And I didn’t discover motion graphics until about a year after I graduated.

The NHL Awards

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
This summer, we branded the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, creating all of the live-event animations for multiple screens on the show stage. We re-branded the Maury Show for the seventh time, creating new graphics packages for on-air, marketing and social media. We did a couple of cool broadcast promo spots for A&E. We worked on an animation for the US Navy and Men’s Health that described some fun facts about sailors (did you know the fitness test includes two minutes of pushups?)

Most recently, we created a graphics package for the United Nations Equator Prize to play on stage during their 2017 Awards Ceremony.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
That’s a very hard question to answer. I don’t think it’s an individual project, but rather our commitment to doing work pro bono for social causes. We’ve created 10-plus (I am actually losing track of how many) awareness videos since 2010, as well as a number of other projects for organizations and missions we care about.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My iPhone, although I am now very conscious of when and how much I’m on it. My analog alarm clock that ensures my iPhone can stay out of the bedroom. My MacBook Air, which lets me get away from my desk even if I’m still working.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
None, if I can help it. I don’t have much love for social media, and if not for needing it to run a business, I would gladly disconnect all together. I do appreciate LinkedIn as a business community, but I try to not get sucked in.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
Funny you ask. In my twenties, I listened to music while working… loudly and all day long. Now, I just love silence when I work. Helps me focus.

THIS IS A HIGH STRESS JOB WITH DEADLINES AND CLIENT EXPECTATIONS. WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I’ve been a professional creative for nearly 20 years, and coming up with fresh ideas on demand and all the time isn’t easy. Neither is running a company, which is a Ferris wheel ride of gaining clients, losing clients, getting jobs, not getting jobs. People depend on me to pay their bills. My job can be either exhilarating or exhausting, and which it will be depends on my ability to stay creative, productive and encouraged.

If I don’t take care of my mind and body properly, consistently and thoroughly, I’ll burn out. So I take control of my time. I don’t work after hours unless it’s actually necessary. I meditate every day. I try to get a workout in daily. I disconnect whenever I can. I stay off my smartphone when possible. I don’t have a TV — in fact, I rarely watch anything once I’m done working. Staring at a screen all day for work makes it far less enticing to stare at one for leisure. I love what I do, but I take time off to travel whenever I can, and I never guilt myself for wanting a life outside of work

Behind the Title: Little Big Bang creative director Cynthia Beauclair

COMPANY: Little Big Bang Studios 

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
We are a motion graphics and animation studio based in Santa Fe and Miami. Most of our clients have been in the TV business. We do it all… from stage graphics to title sequences.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Owner/Creative Director

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As creative director it entails conceptualizing, developing ideas and collaborating with clients.
As a business owner… well, it would take more space than this article will allow.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
The funny characters we meet, and reigning in some of their ideas.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Big picture stuff, hashing out the overall idea in a project and making new business connections.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When a client insists on going with an idea that’s already been done.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
Early morning when everyone is asleep.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
Something to do with science. But I really love my job, so it’s hard to imagine doing something else.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
Since I can remember, I’ve always loved art; and when I discovered that I could make art that moves, I was hooked.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We’ve done lots of new, fun stuff for Santa Fe’s coolest art destination, Meow Wolf. It’s been really exciting to work on something without the restrictions of the corporate world.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
We branded and created a full motion graphics package for La Banda on Univision. The show was the brainchild of Simon Cowell and FremantleMedia, the people who produce American Idol. That was really a turning point for Little Big Bang, and we were honored to have been chosen to create the show’s look.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My Mac, any music player and the espresso machine.

WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Can’t work without it! What I listen to depends on the deadline, indie rock on most days and drum-and-bass or punk rock for tight deadlines.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DESTRESS FROM IT ALL?
I got on long hikes with my family, I play the drums, and wine helps a lot.

Adobe intros updates to Creative Cloud, including Team Projects

Later this year, Adobe will be offering new capabilities within its Adobe Creative Cloud video tools and services. This includes updates for VR/360, animation, motion graphics, editing, collaboration and Adobe Stock. Many of these features are powered by Adobe Sensei, the company’s artificial intelligence and machine learning framework. Adobe will preview these advancements at IBC.

The new capabilities coming later this year to Adobe Creative Cloud for video include:
• Access to motion graphics templates in Adobe Stock and through Creative Cloud Libraries, as well as usability improvements to the Essential Graphics panel in Premiere Pro, including responsive design options for preserving spatial and temporal.
• Character Animator 1.0 with changes to core and custom animation functions, such as pose-to-pose blending, new physics behaviors and visual puppet controls. Adobe Sensei will help improve lip-sync capability by accurately matching mouth shape with spoken sounds.
• Virtual reality video creation with a dedicated viewing environment in Premiere Pro. Editors can experience the deeply engaging qualities of content, review their timeline and use keyboard driven editing for trimming and markers while wearing the same VR head-mounts as their audience. In addition, audio can be determined by orientation or position and exported as ambisonics audio for VR-enabled platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. VR effects and transitions are now native and accelerated via the Mercury playback engine.
• Improved collaborative workflows with Team Projects on the Local Area Network with managed access features that allow users to lock bins and provide read-only access to others. Formerly in beta, the release of Team Projects will offer smoother workflows hosted in Creative Cloud and the ability to more easily manage versions with auto-save history.
• Flexible session organization to multi-take workflows and continuous playback while editing in Adobe Audition. Powered by Adobe Sensei, auto-ducking is added to the Essential Sound panel that automatically adjusts levels by type: dialogue, background sound or music.

Integration with Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock is now offering over 90 million assets including photos, illustrations and vectors. Customers now have access to over 4 million HD and 4K Adobe Stock video footage directly within their Creative Cloud video workflows and can now search and scrub assets in Premiere Pro.

Coming to this new release are hundreds of professionally-created motion graphics templates for Adobe Stock, available later this year. Additionally, motion graphic artists will be able to sell Motion Graphic templates for Premiere Pro through Adobe Stock. Earlier this year, Adobe added editorial and premium collections from Reuters, USA Today Sports, Stocksy and 500px.

The hybridization of VFX and motion design

Plus the rise of the small studio

By Miguel Lee

There has long been a dichotomy between motion graphics and VFX because they have traditionally serviced very different creative needs. However, with the democratization of tools and the migration of talent between these two pillars of the CG industry, a new “hybrid” field of content creators is emerging. And for motion designers like myself, this trend reflects the many exciting things taking place in our industry today, especially as content platforms increase at an incredible rate with smartphones and new LED technologies, not to mention a renaissance in the fields of VR, AR, and projection mapping, to name a few.

Miguel Lee

I’ve always likened the comparison of motion graphics and VFX to the Science Club and the Art Club we remember at school. VFX has its roots in an objective goal: to seamlessly integrate CG into the narrative or spectacle in a convincing and highly technical way. Motion graphics, on the other hand, can be highly subjective. One studio, for instance, might produce a broadcast package laden with 3D animations, whereas another studio will opt for a more minimal, graphical approach to communicating the same brand. A case can typically be made for either direction.

So where does the new “hybrid” studios fit into this analogy? Let’s call them the “Polymath Club,” given their abilities to tap into the proverbial hemispheres of the brain — the “left” representing their affinity for the tools, and the “right” driving the aesthetics and creative. With this “Polymath” mentality, CG artists are now able to generate work that was once only achievable by a large team of artists and technicians. Concurrently, it is influencing the hybridization of the CG industry at large, as VFX companies build motion design teams in-house, while motion graphics studios increasingly incorporate VFX tools into their own workflow.

As a result, we’ve seen a proliferation in the “lean-and-mean” production studio over the last few years. Their rise is the direct result of the democratization of our industry, where content creation tools have significantly evolved in terms of technology, accessibility and reliability. One such example is the dramatic increase in render power with the rise of third-party GPU renderers, such as Otoy’s Octane and Redshift, which have essentially made 3D photorealism more attainable. Cloud rendering solutions have also popped up for conventional and third-party renderers, which mitigates the need to build out expensive renderfarms — a luxury that is still privy to companies of a certain size.

Otoy’s Octane being used on one of Midnight Sherpa’s jobs.

Motion artists, too, have become far more adventurous in employing VFX-specific software like Houdini, which has simultaneously become far more accessible and egalitarian without any compromise to its capability. Maxon’s Cinema 4D, the heavily favored 3D application in motion graphics, has had a long tradition of implementing efficient software-specific workflows to bridge its ecosystem to other programs. Coding and script-based animation has also found a nice home in the Motion repertoire to create inventive and efficient ways to generate content. Even the barrier of entry for creating VR and AR content has eased quite a bit with the latest releases of both the Unity and Unreal engines.

Aside from lower overhead costs, the horizontal work structure of the “lean-and-mean” model has also cultivated truly collaborative environments where artists of trans-disciplinary backgrounds can work together in more streamlined ways than can be done in an oversized team. In many cases, these smaller studios are forced to develop workflows that more effectively reflect their team’s makeup — these systems often enjoy more success as they reflect the styles and, even, personalities of the core teams, which institute them.

The nature of being small also pushes you to innovate and develop greater efficiencies, rather than just throwing more bodies at the problem. These solutions and workflows are often baked into the core team and rolled out on future projects. Smaller studios also have a reputation for cultivating talent. Junior artists and interns are often put on a wider range of projects and into more roles out of necessity to fulfill the various needs of production, whereas they are typically relegated to a single role at larger studios and oftentimes are not afforded the opportunity to branch out. This conversely creates an incentive to hire artists with the intent of developing them over a long term.

There are downsides, of course, to being small — chief among them is how quickly they reach physical capacity at which point jobs would have to be turned down. The proliferation of small studios equals more voices in the landscape of content, which in turn directly contributes to the greater evolution of design as a whole.

Now that the playing field has been technologically equalized, the key between failure and success for many of these companies lies in whether or not they can craft a voice that is unique amongst their peers in an increasingly saturated landscape.

Main Image: Audi – Photorealism is more achievable in a streamlined production pipeline.


Miguel Lee is partner/creative director at LA’s Midnight Sherpa, a boutique creative studio for brands and entertainment.

Liron Ashkenazi-Eldar joins The Artery as design director  

Creative studio The Artery has brought on Liron Ashkenazi-Eldar as lead design director. In her new role, she will spearhead the formation of a department that will focus on design and branding. Ashkenazi-Eldar and team are also developing in-house design capabilities to support the company’s VFX, experiential and VR/AR content, as well as website development, including providing motion graphics, print and social campaigns.

“While we’ve been well established for many years in the areas of production and VFX, our design team can now bring a new dimension to our company,” says Ashkenazi-Eldar, who is based in The Artery’s NYC office. “We are seeking brand clients with strong identities so that we can offer them exciting, new and even weird creative solutions that are not part of the traditional branding process. We will be taking a completely new approach to branding — providing imagery that is more emotional and more personal, instead of just following an existing protocol. Our goal is to provide a highly immersive experience for our new brand clients.”

Originally from Israel, the 27-year-old Ashkenazi-Eldar is a recent graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts with a BFA degree in Design. She is the winner of a 2017 ADC Silver Cube Award from The One Club, in the category 2017 Design: Typography, for her contributions to a project titled Asa Wife Zine. She led the Creative Team that submitted the project via the School of Visual Arts.

 

Nutmeg adds Broadway Video’s former design group

New York City-based Nutmeg, a creative marketing and post production house, has acquired Broadway Video’s design team formerly known as FAC5. Under the Nutmeg brand, they are now known as NTMG Design.

The team of four — executive creative producer Doug LeBow, executive creative director Fred Salkind, creative director David Rogers and art director Karolina Dawson — is an Emmy, Telly and PromaxBDA award-winning creative collective working on design across multiple media platforms. Existing clients that could benefit from the new services include broadcast networks, cable channels and brands.

With services that include main titles and show packaging, experiential and event design, promotions and image campaigns, the group has worked with a variety of clients on a wide range of projects, including Nickelodeon HALO Awards; Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards; The Emmys for Don Mischer Productions; Indy 500 100th Anniversary for ESPN; HBO’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for Line-by-Line Productions; Thursday Night Football and Sunday Night Football tune-in promo packaging for CBS Sports; AT&T Concert Series for iHeart Media; The Great Human Race for National Geographic Channel; The Peabody Awards for Den of Thieves and others.

“Nutmeg has always embraced growth,” says Nutmeg executive producer Laura Vick. “As our clients and the marketplace shift to engage end users, the addition of a full-service design team allows us to offer all aspects of content creation under one roof. We can now assist at the inception of an idea to help create complete visual experiences — show opens, trade shows, corporate interiors or digital billboards.”

“We look at these new design capabilities as both a new frontier unto itself, and as yet another component of what we’re already doing — telling compelling stories,” says Nutmeg executive creative director Dave Rogan. “Nothing at Nutmeg is created in a vacuum, so these new areas of design crossing over into an interactive web environment, for example, is natural.”

The new NTMG Design team will be working within Nutmeg’s midtown location. Their suite contains five workstations supported by a 10-box renderfarm, Maxon Cinema 4D, Adobe After Effects, one seat of Flame, Assimilate Scratch access for color and an insert stage for practical shooting. It is further supported by 28TBs of Infortrend storage. 

While acknowledging tools are important, executive creative director Fred Salkind says, “Sometimes when I’m asked what we work with, I say Scotch tape and scissors, because it’s the idea that puts the tools to work, not the other way around.”

Main Photo by Eljay Aguillo. L-R: Fred Salkind, David Rogers, Doug LeBow and Karolina Dawson.

Review: Maxon Cinema 4D Studio Release 18

By Brady Betzel

Each year I get to test out some of the latest and greatest software and hardware releases our industry has to offer. One of my favorites — and most challenging — is Maxon’s Cinema 4D. I say challenging because while I love Cinema 4D, I don’t use it every day. So, in order to test it thoroughly, I watched tutorials on Cineversity to brush up on what I forgot and what’s new. Even though I don’t use it every day, I do love it.

I’ve reviewed Cinema 4D Release 15 through R18. I started using the product when I was studying at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California, which coincidentally is about 10 minutes from Maxon’s Newbury Park office.

Voronoi Fracture

Each version update has been packed full of remarkable additions and updates. From the grass generator in R15, addition of the Reflectance channel in R16, lens distortion tools in R17 to the multitude of updates in R18 — Cinema 4D keeps on cranking out the hits. I say multitude because there are a ton of updates packed into the latest Cinema 4D Release 18 update. You can check out a complete list of them as well as comparisons between Cinema 4D Studio, Visualize, Broadcast, Prime, BodyPaint 3D and Lite Release 18 versions on the Maxon site.

For this review, I’m going to touch on three of what I think are the most compelling updates in Release 18: the new Voronoi Fracture, Thin Film Shader and the Push Apart Effector. Yes, I know there are a bazillion other great updates to Cinema 4D R18 — such as Weight Painting, new Knife Tools, Inverse Ambient Occlusion, the ability to save cache files externally and many more — but I’m going to stick to the features that I think stand out.

Keep in mind that I am using Cinema 4D Studio R18 for this review, so if you don’t have Studio, some of the features might not be available in your version. For instance, I am going to touch on some of the MoGraph toolset updates, and those are only inside the Studio and Broadcast versions. Finally, while you should use a super powerful workstation to get the smoothest and most robust experience when using Cinema 4D R18, I am using a tablet that uses a quad core Intel i7 3.1GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and an Intel Iris graphics 6100 GPU. Definitely on the lower end of processing power for this app, but it works and I have to credit Maxon for making it work so well.

Voronoi Fracture
If, like me, you’ve never heard of the term Voronoi, check out the first paragraph of this Wiki page. A very simple way to imagine a Voronoi diagram is a bunch of cell-like polygons that are all connected (there’s a much more intricate and deeply mathematical definition, but I can barely understand it, and it’s really beyond the scope of this review). In Cinema 4D Studio R18, the Voronoi Fracture object allows us to easily, and I mean really easily, procedurally break apart objects like MoGraph text, or any other object, without the need for external third-party plug-ins such as Nitro4D’s Thrausi.

Voronoi Fracture

To apply Voronoi Fracture in as few steps as possible, you apply the Voronoi Fracture located in the MoGraph menu to your object, adjust parameters under the Sources menu (like distribution type or point amount) add effectors to cause dispersion, keyframe values and render. With a little practice you can explode your raytraced MoGraph text in no time. The best part is your object will not look fractured until animated, which in the past took some work so this is a great update.

Thin Film Shader
Things that are hard to recreate in a photorealistic way are transparent objects, such as glass bottles, windows and bubbles. In Cinema 4D R18, Maxon has added the new Thin Film Shader, which can add the film-like quality that you see on bubbles or soap. It’s an incredible addition to Cinema 4D, furthering the idea that Maxon is concentrating on adding features that improve efficiency for people like me who want to use Cinema 4D, but sometimes don’t because making a material like Thin Film will take a long time.

To apply the Thin Film to your object, find the Reflectance channel of your material that you want to add the Thin Film property to add a new Beckmann or GGX layer, lower the Specular Strength of this layer to zero, under Layer Color choose Texture > Effects > Thin Film. From there, if you want to see the Thin Film as a true layer of film you need to change your composite setting to Add on your layer; you should then see it properly. You can get some advanced tips from the great tutorials over at Cineversity and from Andy Needham (Twitter: @imcalledandy) on lynda.com. One tip I learned from Andy is to change the Index of Refraction to get some different looks, which can be found under the Shader properties.

Push Apart Effector

Push Apart Effector
The new Push Apart Effector is a simple but super-powerful addition to Cinema 4D. The easiest way to describe the Push Apart Effector is to imagine a bunch of objects in an array or using a Cloner where all of your objects are touching — the Push Apart Effector helps to push them away from each other. To decrease the intersection of your clones, you can dial-in the specific radius of your objects (like a sphere) and then tell Cinema 4D R18 how many times you want it to look through the scene by specifying iterations. The more iterations the less chance your objects will intersect, but the more time it will take to compute.

Summing Up
I love Maxon’s continual development of Cinema 4D in Release 18. I specifically love that while they are adding new features, like Weight Painting and Update Knife Tools, they are also helping to improve efficiency for people like me who love to work in Cinema 4D but sometimes skip it because of the steep learning curve and technical know-how you need in order to operate it. You should not fear though, I cannot emphasize how much you can learn at Cineversity, Lynda.com, and on YouTube from an expert like Sean Frangella. Whether you are new to the world of Cinema 4D, mildly experienced like me, or an expert you can always learn something new.

Something I love about Maxon’s licensing for education is that if you go to a qualified school, you can get a free Cinema 4D license. Instructors can get access to Cineversity to use the tutorials in their curriculum as well as project files to use. It’s an amazing resource.

Thin Film Render

If you are an Adobe After Effects user, don’t forget that you automatically get a free version of Cinema 4D bundled with After Effects — Cinema 4D Lite. Even though you have to have After Effects open to use the Cinema 4D Lite, it is still a great way to dip your toes into the 3D world, and maybe even bring your projects back into After Effects to do some compositing.

Cinema 4D Studio R18’s pricing breaks down like this: Commercial Pricing/Annual License Pricing/Upgrade R17 to R18 pricing — Cinema 4D Studio Release 18: $3,695/$650 /$995; Cinema 4D Visualize Release 18: $2,295/$500/$795; Cinema 4D Broadcast Release 18: $1,695/$400 /$795; Cinema 4D Prime Release 18: $995/$250/$395.

Another interesting option is Maxon’s short-term licensing in three- or six-month chunks for the Studio version ($600/$1,100) and 75 percent of the fees you pay for a short-term license can be applied to your purchase of a full license later. Keep in mind, when using such a powerful and robust software like Cinema 4D you are making an investment that will payoff with concentrated effort in learning the software. With a few hours of training from some of the top trainers — like Tim Clapham on www.helloluxx.com, Greyscalegorilla.com and Motionworks.com — you will be off and running in 3D land.

For everyday Cinema 4D creations and inspiration, check out @beeple_crap on Instagram. He produces amazing work all the time.

In this review, I tested some of the new updates to Cinema 4D Studio R18 with sample projects from Andy Needham’s Lynda.com class Cinema 4D R18: New Features and Joren Kandel’s awesome website, which offers tons of free content to play with while learning the new tools.


Brady Betzel is an Emmy-nominated online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff.

Reel FX hires Chad Mosley as senior designer

Chad Moseley has joined Reel FX as senior designer. Moseley brings with him nearly a decade of experience in motion graphics and design, spanning television, advertising and broadcast promos.

He comes to Reel FX, which has offices in Dallas and Santa Monica, from Starz Entertainment, where he spent two years as a broadcast designer, concepting and executing promotions for original programming on series such as Outlander, Da Vinci’s Demons and Flesh and Bone, including teasers, spots and graphics packages. His work for brands such as Enterprise, Nestle, Purina and Busch Gardens has earned him a Gold American Advertising Award (AAA), a Gold Addy Award and an AAF Best of Digital Award.

Texas native Moseley studied graphic design and 3D animation in Denver. He developed his career at a Texas news channel, handling the video and graphics for the channel’s website. While there he learned post production. He then worked as a video editor/animator at Denver-based ORCC, later relocating to St. Louis to take a position as senior motion graphics/VFX artist at 90 Degrees West. While there, he contributed to post projects from concept through completion for national brands including Anheuser Busch, Enterprise and UPS, among others. An opportunity as an in-house broadcast designer at Starz Entertainment led Moseley back to Denver in 2014, before once again returning to Dallas once again to join the Reel FX team.

Shipping + Handling adds Luca Giannettoni as CD of motion design/animation

Luca Giannettoni has recently joined Venice, California-based visual effects house Shipping + Handling as creative director. He has been tasked with growing its motion design and animation business.

Shipping + Handling is a creative content studio — working in broadcast, TV, Web and mobile —that offers creative finishing services such as VFX, design, motion graphics and animation. S+H has offices in LA and New York.

“S+H is expanding and we are stoked to have Giannettoni join our team here in Venice,” says executive producer Scott Friske.

While at companies such as Elastic, Oishii Creative and Yu+Co, among others, Giannettoni worked on commercials, broadcast and main titles for brands such as T-Mobile, Toyota, Coke, Hyundai, Goodyear, McDonald’s and ESPN. Giannettoni is a native from Verona, Italy, where he worked in design and fashion prior to coming to Los Angeles.