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Adding focus blur and depth of field to C4D file within After Effects

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Bastian Beuttel
Adding focus blur and depth of field to C4D file within After Effects
on Apr 25, 2014 at 8:45:59 pm

Hi there!

I'm using After Effect CC and Cinema 4D Lite.

I created a 3D-file within Cinema 4D Lite which I put into After Effects to set up and use the camera within After Effects.
Everything works except the depth of field / focus blur. Objects that I create within After Effects blur as they should in the respective distances.
But the objects that come with the C4D file are all crisp and sharp.
Is there a setting that I missed?
Is it even possible to use After Effect's camera together with C4D files in that manner (to create focus blur)?

Thank you!


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Adding focus blur and depth of field to C4D file within After Effects
on Apr 25, 2014 at 9:50:38 pm

You have to create a depth pass in the C4D file (and have it on a separate layer) to drive a lens blur effect.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Bastian Beuttel
Re: Adding focus blur and depth of field to C4D file within After Effects
on Apr 26, 2014 at 9:07:18 am

Hi Michael, thanks for the answer.
I thought that with the new approach of integrating Ciname 4D Lite that was obsolete.
I created a depth pass and have it on a different layer.
However, the result doesn't reflect the focus of my After effects Camera. I have an expression to follow the target point.
When I move the After Effects camera into Cinema 4D Lite I see that the focus changes like it does in After Effect but the distance is wrong. The focus distance is too short (just like it was scaled)… I am missing something here?

And what about the blur? I added a motion blur effect in the Cinema 4D render settings.
Is this sufficient?

Thank you so much!


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Adding focus blur and depth of field to C4D file within After Effects
on Apr 28, 2014 at 1:23:04 pm

[Bastian Beuttel] "I thought that with the new approach of integrating Ciname 4D Lite that was obsolete."

This is just their first go at integrating the two programs together. There are a number of things that don't quite translate.

If your camera in AE is tracking a null object or something for the focus, you should be able to have that same item in C4D and set that camera to track it for the focus point too.

For motion blur, you really can't beat the ReelSmart Motion Blur plugin with a velocity pass from C4D.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Bastian Beuttel
Re: Adding focus blur and depth of field to C4D file within After Effects
on Apr 28, 2014 at 2:58:19 pm

Hi Michael,
thanks for clarifying this!

I figured out in the meantime that the only thing I can do in Cinema to change hoe focus is to set a focus object. I was at first irritated that I couldn't change the focus distance manually (it seems to be locked when the camera comes from After Effects…). This is even more strange considering the fact that After Effects passes a changing focus but the distance or the scale gets misinterpreted (film size and focal distance were passed correctly).

The next thing I stumbled upon was that the resulting depth pass has a very narrow to none depth of field. I wasn't able to change the aperture (greyed out) but found the depth-of-field setting for the depth-pass.
I'm not very fond of this approach. When the camera moves, you would have to adapt the depth-of-field to the scale so this adds a lot of adjusting work (adding keyframes) compared to just setting an aperture (or even making the depth-of-field relative to the focus distance).
Then I find the lens blur effect in After Effects somehow strange in its behavior: I have a plane parallel to the film surface which is supposed to ben in focus. But the edges of the plane are now being considered in the blur, which means that the object in focus has a halo and appears out-of-focus on the edges. The depth pass is absolutely congruent to the picture!

The next step was the motion blur: I went with the pixel motion blur effect of After-Effects which had to be tweaked until I found a setting that didn't cause too much errors and artifacts on fast movements. I guess there is no effect that ships with After-Effects that can work with the velocity / motion vector pass?

Is there anything I could improve in this workflow? Anything I missed?
Thank you!


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Kevin Camp
Re: Adding focus blur and depth of field to C4D file within After Effects
on Apr 28, 2014 at 5:05:37 pm

[Bastian Beuttel] "I guess there is no effect that ships with After-Effects that can work with the velocity / motion vector pass?"

I haven't used it, there is a 'warp layer' option in the motion blur settings of the timewarp effect that is for motion vectors.

if you have a motion vector pass you might give that try and see how that goes.

Kevin Camp
Art Director
KCPQ, KZJO & KRCW


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