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Creating motion graphics with CINEMA 4D


By Barton Damer

Web: http://alreadybeenchewed.tv/ (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 2nd August 2014

Already Been Chewed studio gives us the lowdown on using CINEMA 4D to update its motion graphics for FOX Sports' Street League Skateboarding events...


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The Street League Skateboarding show that used to air on ESPN 2 recently moved over to FOX Sports, and with this, the design studio responsible for creating the graphics had to convince FOX that they were the team to continue producing them. That team was the creative minds over at Already Been Chewed, headed by lead designer and animator, Barton Damer. Their ideas were enough to convince FOX that they should stay on the project rather than be replaced by the FOX Sports' internal team.


Studio: Already Been Chewed
Lead Designer and Animator: Barton Damer
Additional Animation: EJ Hassenfratz

Development

These new look graphics had to slot in with the FOX Sports' style, while also retaining a distinctive 'skateboarding' element. To do this, Barton Damer created some style boards which were later refined with CINEMA 4D, After Effects and X-Particles. "After we got approval, we built the entire environment for the show in CINEMA 4D, including everything from the ramps the skateboarders use to the planters that you see – and everyone liked what we showed them!”

Damer also managed to get his idea approved to incorporate rotoscoped footage from previous Street League Skateboarding contests into their renders.

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Since Already Been Chewed weren't present for the original shoots of the show, the rotoscoped footage came in handy as it could be used as a texture on a plane inside of CINEMA 4D. Damer explains that "This allowed us to place the position of the skateboarder exactly where we wanted him for takeoff and landing."

In order to sell the scene composition, Damer positioned the lights so that real shadows from the 2D video footage of the skater would be cast across the 3D models within the CINEMA 4D scene. "Once the shot was lined up in 3D space, we were able to fly the camera around and cheat the perspective a bit to get some more interesting camera moves beyond the original tripod shot that was rotoscoped."

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Further graphics

From Damer's early style boards and the resultant footage mixing 3D and 2D, FOX decided that Already Been Chewed would be perfect for creating the intro and outro bumpers, and other graphics, that would be used throughout the show.

The studio's vast experience with creating exciting 3D worlds inside arenas and stadiums came into play when Damer decided to blend the show's longtime title sponsor, NikeSB, with FOX's polished 3D sports look. "NikeSB's branding for Street League has a very clean, 2D look that appeals to the core skateboard community," but the challenge facing Damer and team was how to incorporate FOX Sports' direction. "The solution ended up combining 2D graphics and animations from the NikeSB branding on screens with a 3D environment that we designed with the FOX Sports 1 network in mind."

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As you can see from the screenshot above, their idea to incorporate 2D screens within a 3D environment was a solution that could make everyone happy. "With the integration of After Effects and CINEMA 4D," Damer explains, "we were able to create templates so that everything on the screen could be dragged and dropped in without having to re-render in CINEMA 4D. Being able to export out the 3D data as an AEC file allowed us to quickly update the screens."

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Creating the arena

The back wall of the arena was created using one cube that was textured using photographs of cement and placed into a MoGraph cloner object. Each concrete block was animated in one simple step by applying a random effector to the cloner object and keyframing the position of the randomness so, over time, the wall could go from multi-dimensional to completely flat.

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Adding story

Despite the short timeframe that Already Been Chewed had to showcase their graphics, Damer thought it would be clever to give the viewers a 'behind-the-scenes' look at one element of arena preparation – creating the concrete ramps. "After experimenting with it a bit, we were able to easily create what looked like cement pouring into the ramps."

Damer explains how they used a plug-in called X-Particles to create an animation showing how cement is poured to create the quarter pipes that are used in the event. This is an essential element in a skate park, and at each new site they are often (though not always) created fresh rather than disassembled and reassembled. The studio had recently purchased X-Particles and were looking for a way to incorporate it into their workflow, and this was the perfect opportunity.

They discovered that X-Particles also comes with a skinner, so they were able to adjust the settings and get that perfect look of pouring cement. "We were able to texture the skinner with a photograph of cement, so that helped quite a bit too."

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Future development

Because of the nature of the way in which these graphics were created, it will be a relatively simple process to edit them as the Street League Skateboarding show tours from city to city. The studio spent around three weeks on the project, on and off between approvals, and now all it needs to do is make the slight modifications and updates going forward.

CINEMA 4D's integration with After Effects made it easier for Damer to set up templates, so at upcoming shows, content on the 3D video screens can be easily swapped out without having to re-render anything. "We simply export out an AEC file using external compositing tags from CINEMA 4D with our original renders, and then we bring the 3D data into After Effects to update the screen content by simple dragging and dropping."

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Related links

Head over to Already Been Chewed's website for more footage
Find out more about CINEMA 4D
Discover if After Effects is right for you
Download the X-Particles plug-in
Check out our CINEMA 4D eBook tutorials
In need of some textures? Visit the shop
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