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Creating 3D line objects using After Effects and C4D lite

motion graphics after effects film

Creating true 3D objects inside After Effects became possible with the addition of the Cinema 4D Lite application. C4D Lite was added to the 2014.1 release of After Effects CC. With C4D lite being shipped along with AE, users who have never even considered working with a 3D program like C4D now have access to it. It's right there at your fingertips... you gotta check it out!

In one of BiteSite's recent projects, I was able to take advantage of the 3D capabilities C4D offers. In this post we'll focus on a unique look you can create inside AE with 3D objects from C4D. It's so simple and quick you may have already thought this up on your own! It's something that not only adds a new look, but may also add more functionality to your project. Check it out...

Apply these 2 effects (in this order) to the 3D layer inside AE:

  1. Find Edges --> for the look we're after, click the 'invert' option
  2. Unmult --> this is not an effect that comes with AE. It's free though and you can download it here: http://www.redgiant.com/downloads/legacy-versions/

What do these effects do?

  1. Find Edges --> It finds the edges... ;) Perhaps a little self-explanatory, perhaps not! Find edges looks at any shape, image, or object (whatever type of layer you apply it to) and recognizes all of the 'edges' in that layer. Edges are any part of the image where there is a significant transition. It then turns to white everything in the layer that is not an 'edge'. Checking off 'invert' on the effect turns everything to black rather than white.
  2. Unmult --> makes 100% black areas of an image completely transparent, and leaves 100% white areas completely opaque. Everything in between adjusts accordingly. Unmult is effectively creating an alpha channel for an image that doesn't actually have one. Awesome!

Apply these two effects, and you now have a 3D line object! You can choose to have it transparent or opaque (just toggle on/off the unmult effect).

No effects added:

Find Edges:

Find edges + Unmult:

This look can be great if, -- you want that sketched art look (try adding the 'turbulent displace' effect to further this look), -- you just want fresh and simple lines instead of heavy 3D objects, -- or even just for the added functionality you get by having your 3D objects transparent!

As well, try duplicating your 3D object layer and keep it placed directly above it's duplicate in the composition panel. Have one layer with the effects applied and one without!

Try it out! If you're reading this and you use this method, leave a comment below with a link to your video We'd love to see your work. Cheers :)

Tim

Timclark
Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite