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The Importance of Compositing – Retro Sci Fi Look

After Effects, Cinema4D, Compositing, Quick Tips

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Retro Sci Fi Composite

I love Cinema 4D. Compared to many other 3D software packages it is a joy to use. Somehow it’s GUI feels more intuitive than (for example) 3DS Max or Maya. Also, you can do some seriously cool shit with MoGraph. Just try adding the Delay Effector (in Spring mode) to any animation and see how much more pizazz it adds.

So it’s a pretty powerful program for making visuals. But don’t ever underestimate what you can do when you combine your footage with the POWER OF AFTER EFFECTS! Ho, Motion Warrior… Truly now do you wield mighty tools.

Breakdown: The shot above is just a quick example of what can be achieved when you drop your C4D output into AE. The raw footage looks OK, but not entirely what I wanted for this concept. The idea was to get something that took influence from 2001: A Space Oddyssey, Silent Running, and all those other GREAT Sci Fi films from around the 60s and 70s. So after a bit of research and a few minor adjustments, you can see how drastically the look and feel changes.

So what did I do? The key alterations here were:

  • Levels: Bump UP the gamma, flatten out the contrast
  • Depth of Field: Created in After Effects with the default camera blur plugin and a depth map from C4D
  • Noise: LOTS of grain really adds to that retro feel
  • Chromatic Aberration: A symptom of older lenses. I used this great plugin by Francois Tarlier
  • Grade: Classic vintage grade. Bump up the blues in the shadows and drop ’em down in the highlights
  • Vignette: Draw focus to your centre point by adding a vignette. Also, it simulates another trait present in older cameras

It is SO important to understand compositing techniques – they can completely alter the mood of your visuals in very extreme ways.

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