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Autumn Leaves

Creating a custom wipe transition with Adobe After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4D By Ko Maruyama
By using Adobe After Effects, you can make all types of creative wipes for use in your favorite NLE. And, with the aid of Maxon Cinema 4D, you can add some 3D volume to your wipe shapes. We'll take a look this week at one technique combining these two programs to produce the effect of 3D leaves blowing across the screen to transition between clips.

Although Cinema 4D has several high-end modeling features, sometimes the simple tricks are the most efficient in a production environment. For this wipe, we'll just deform a plane with a leaf mapped to its surface. Simple enough. But first, we'll need to collect our textures.

Setting up textures
You'll probably want to collect 10 different textures for the leaves. You can get away with 5, using your favorite paint tool to edit the color and shape of each twice. If you're lucky enough to have Corel's Painter, you can lift the leaves that come with the application's default brushes and images. Scans of real leaves work equally well. You'll need an alpha channel for each leaf you use.

With the leaves painted and cut out with alpha channels, save them in a new folder. Note: You'll need to make a separate file for each leaf, not a Photoshop or Painter file with multiple layers.

Cinema 4D: Shaping a leaf
In Cinema4D, create a new plane with width and height dimensions of 150m and an orientation of -Z. In the Materials window, create a new texture with Color and Alpha channels turned on. Note: You'll need to make a new plane and new material for each leaf.

In the Color channel, select the leaf file from your project folder. Be sure to save your C4D project to the same folder if you haven't set up texture paths. In the Alpha channel, select the same file. You can select it from the wing tab located at the end of the Image float.

You can apply this texture by simply dragging the material icon directly onto the model in the View window, or onto the object in the Object Manager window.

In order to deform the leaf with the magnet tool, we'll have to make it editable. The easiest way to do this is with the hotkey "c" or from the pulldown menu (Structure > Make Editable). Switching to the Polygon Tool reveals the newly created polygons.

Under the Structure pulldown is a tool called Magnet. I've never found this tool to be very useful because it works through a range of different attraction formulas rather than specifically through a handle. Bending leaves on planes is the perfect use for this tool. Revealing the Active Tool window allows you to manipulate all of the magnet tool's attributes.

With the leaf in 3/4 profile, I'll click in the center of the plane, and drag, using the magnet's influence on the polygons to warp the mesh.

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Related Keywords:Adobe After Effects, Maxon Cinema 4D tutorials


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