Openers for Drive Conference bring Media and Production together with more focus, intent and preparation than perhaps any other specials we create throughout the year. This is a break-down of the first half of the Session 1 Opener.
I’m going to break it into three parts just so I can say I’ve created a trilogy. So that said, here we go…
PART 1: THE COUNTDOWN
Preparation began six weeks out for this 6-minute monstrosity of video, sync, lighting, and music – all with a giant 40′ kabuki screen as the backdrop.
As the lights were dimmed, a huge analog clock with swirling, glowing numbers emerged, and our 30-sec countdown began. Doug Maudlin, an incredible voice talent in the Atlanta area, shook the room with his epic “movie guy” announcement: “DRIVE WILL BEGIN IN 30-SECONDS!”. As it spiraled down to “10, 9, 8…” the crowd roared as the swelling synths crescendoed, and at the final moment the voice boomed, “DRIVE BEGINS… NOW!” And at that moment, Drive 2013 began.
HOW WAS IT BUILT?
The Countdown is a combination of Cinema4D and After Effects, with a handful of my go-to post effects. The geometry, basic lighting and color is rendered from C4D, then brought into AE to add the details, such as depth-of-field, glows, color correction and grain.
The frames rendered from C4D have no post effects, as that is a recipe for post-render regret. When you spend several hundred dollars on a render farm (more on this below) to export 1000s of frames, you want the simplest, purist result possible. Effects like glow or motion blur are preferably added in AE for maximum flexibility.
To isolate elements within the rendered frame as well as create depth of field, C4D exports an isolation matte for any object(s) you choose, and a depth map. So by setting up each mask in AE, you can filter out only a portion of the rendered frame, allowing total control over color correction, glows, etc. And with the depth map you can then create artificial, yet completely realistic, depth blur accurate to each frame, as generated from the DOF settings in your C4D camera. For this, I use Noise Industries‘ Depth Blur. It leaves no artifacts on edges and is endlessly tweak-able.
All my glow plugins are from Noise Industries as well. Both their standard glow and light rays, which creates the emanating beams from the tubes are incredibly realistic.
For motion blur, my go-to is Re:Vision‘s RSMB plugin. It’s inexpensive and works by generating pixel-to-pixel tracking for incredibly realistic blur.
Finally, a few plugins on top of it all creates the proper feel and energy from the color palette.
The tricks I’ve come to rely on regularly, I affectionately refer to as My Personal Seven Different Kinds of Smoke®. Allow me to share with you #1: The post effects chain on top of every thing is Magic Bullet Looks, then Mojo, which are used to create the proper feel and energy from the color palette. On the tippity-top is Magic Bullet Grain which adds a wonderful sense of filmic vibe that takes harsh edge off the graphics.
With all that said, here are a few raw C4D stills, and their final AE versions with all the gooey goodness added (click to view full-size):
Before I queue up a final render of the entire C4D animation, I always verify object animations, camera movements, etc. using a fairly quick software render. This way I can check every nuance to be sure the end result is what I expect. I’ll also queue a single frame to render from each camera’s POV at full resolution to ensure textures, lighting, shadows, etc. are behaving. Here’s what the software wireframe export looks like:
And once all the pieces are put together, here’s the final countdown, complete with audio and sound design by our amazing Audioizer, JJ Brummett:
Stay tuned for Part 2: The Wave and the Riff