Connect The Dots Of This Technique

I’ve got just a touch of inspiration for you guys on this lovely Monday. Mr Geoff Schultz from Elevation Church liked a piece on vimeo that I got a chance to put my eyes onto and revel in it’s wonder this morning. Then after posting it on twitter, to see so many other creatives in my circle share it and like it as well just tells me this is really a piece to behold.

I wouldn’t call this the most flashy or awe-inspiring piece I’ve ever seen but I was totally captivated by what my eyes and my brain were capable of seeing throughout the piece with little information on the screen. Seeing what appears to just be a random collection of moving dots in space, we can see patterns and parallax in how they all move to reconstruct a fully realized 3D scene composed of multiple band members and even the instruments they play.

That Looks Complex

Now to look at this piece quickly one might think to themselves, “It appears to be more tedious work than anything. Simply track the shots and save each of the points out as a null. Then attach the dot and add a unique number.” Easy! But not really. You really start to see the magic when the camera moves around the scene and invisible objects obstruct other invisible objects. For example, when we start tight on the drummer then truck back under and behind the hi-hat we start to lose all of the points that make up part of the drummer. So obviously there is some more fun stuff at play here to give these points their objectivity and mass. This piece would have lost it’s effect quickly had US not obstructed points further in z-space with objects closer in z-space. At that point it would have just been a visual mess. We might have been able to differentiate what each point belonged to in the scene and maybe where in depth it existed but to me what makes this piece powerful is the fact that they went the extra mile and did that bit of work for us.

I’m not exactly sure how they went about this process, but about a year ago I did a series bump for Christ Fellowship that had the same effect. It was supposed to be a line art piece that had depth and mass using the negative space inside each of the drawn objects. However, I wanted to see the background through each of the pieces so that it did just look like a sketch. So if it were in fact a sketch you would be able to see the subtle change in color that happens as the camera rotates around the scene based on the color of the background and where the object sits. I do a brief write up on this, and will create a tutorial in length and detail if you guys want to see more.

Inside My Process

This was an easy process, but took a bit of time to accomplish because it was fairly tedious. Inside of Cinema4D I created the camera move, and the 3D logo which I exported for use in AE. I set up a few null objects inside of C4D so that I would have some references to depth and where exactly the logo will sit inside of my AE comp. This way I would know what needs to be in front of the logo and what the logo needs to obstruct by the logo so that everything fits inside the same world. After bringing it into AE I took all of the sketches I drew in Illustrator and saved them out as pngs with alpha, then dropped them into AE and applied 3D layers. I used the newly imported nulls from C4D and started to parent the sketches to their corresponding nulls and zero out the positions to place them directly on their spot in xyz. After that it was a matter of creating track mattes for all the objects as they went further back in z-space in the scene in a stacking manner. This way the closest sketch was obstructed by nothing, and the furthest object was obstructed by everything.

Easy as pie! Now it’s very very obvious that the US piece was a little more involved than this, but this is my quick and dirty explanation of how this could have been done. Again, I could spend some time and do a more legitimate tutorial on my piece and how the technique might have been used on the US piece if you guys want that. Being new here to CMD I’m still trying to find my place and how I can best contribute. Any and all direction would be fantastic. So make sure to leave comments, email me, tweet me, facebook me, whatever me to make sure I’m contributing in a way that will best help out.

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2 Responses


Very cool. Thanks for sharing. I'd definitely like to see your process. Do you think it could be done without Cinema 4D? Just by using 3D space in AE?

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