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Problems Animating a helicopter in Cinema 4D (with After Effects)

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Matthew Ruiz
Problems Animating a helicopter in Cinema 4D (with After Effects)
on May 14, 2019 at 12:30:17 am

Hello, my knowledge is very slim when it comes to animating in Cinema 4D. However, I figured I would be able to set a couple of simple key frames and make the rotors on a helicopter model rotate. I was wrong. For some odd reason, no matter how much research I do and no matter what I do in Cinema 4D, I can not get these rotors to rotate correctly. The first issue I had was the rotors wobbling when rotating, so I found a solution to that by freezing the rotation values in the coordinates section. The animation looks perfectly fine in Cinema 4D, and is exactly what I want. However, when I save it and move over to After Effects, the animation is flat out crazy. Instead of showing me the nice, simple animation that is the preview in Cinema 4D, After Effects gives me an animation of my helicopter getting flung into the air, with the tail rotor detaching and falling onto the invisible floor with collision physics. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to enable physics, but I did and I can't figure out how to fix it. Also, I don't know why this crazy scene only appears in After Effects and not in the Cinema 4D preview. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

What I want:


What I get:


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Cassius Marques
Re: Problems Animating a helicopter in Cinema 4D (with After Effects)
on May 14, 2019 at 12:31:03 pm

Let me start by saying that this workflow (using C4D through AE) is not usual, and that functionality has been updated a bit in the past, but I doubt it's up to industry standards.

What I think may be happening is that AE may rely on PSR values and its not capable of "reading" the animation caused by the motor. I'd suggest you either bake all animations to PSR or render it out and import as footage.

PS: There is a checkbox on cineware that says "no pre-calculations", I have no idea what that does, but have you tried?

Cassius Marques
http://www.zapfilmes.com


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Matthew Ruiz
Re: Problems Animating a helicopter in Cinema 4D (with After Effects)
on May 15, 2019 at 6:43:30 am

Hello, thank you for the response. First and foremost, I want to say that I actually was not using the motor as seen in the explorer on the right. That came with the 3D model when I bought it, however it required a plugin that I did not have installed, and I didn't care to install it. So instead I just used key frames and rotation within the regular Cinema 4D functionality. So the motor was not the problem, given that it was not in use and I actually deleted it soon after I took that screenshot.
Now on the plus side, I actually resolved this issue with the helicopter dismantling and flying out of the scene by removing the dynamic body tags from the pieces of the helicopter. I believe this disabled any collision physics, and therefore let my animations run as desired.
However, before we end this thread I have a couple of questions for you. First, I am wondering how I could keep the physics enabled while still animating the model, because I feel like it could be useful for some of my future projects where I may want my model to hit the ground while moving forward with the propellers rotating. Second, and perhaps the more important question here, is what do you think I should use instead of Cinema 4D and After Effects? I have tried using other 3D programs (such as Blender) to animate models and overlay them onto my After Effects composition. However, I always run into the issue of not being able to render the videos from the animation software without a background or with the needed reflections. So anyway, I am just wondering what other programs and methods you suggest for completing tasks like these, where I need to make a 3D model seem as if it is a real object in a real scene.


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Cassius Marques
Re: Problems Animating a helicopter in Cinema 4D (with After Effects)
on May 15, 2019 at 5:11:31 pm

Your applications are fine. It's the execution that is wrong. C4D is the 3d application. You should create models or import, texture them, light them and render it all within. After effects is a compositor, it should import, overlay and adjust the passes you brought out of C4D. (this is the desired workflow, not always the fastest, but it is the most direct and robust)

Your current workflow is bridging the rendering (3d) part to After effects (even though cineware still invokes the C4D engine). But that comes with caveats as you've seen. Things look one way in C4D but don't translate the same in AE.

[Matthew Ruiz] "First, I am wondering how I could keep the physics enabled while still animating the model, because I feel like it could be useful for some of my future projects"

The safest way is rendering it out of C4D. You could keep using AE's cineware for render, but I'm almost sure you'll have to bake all animations to PSR in order to keep things corresponding. Baking dynamics is not very straightforward. I've struggle some with it, specially if you're using cloners, modifiers or time tracks. Xpresso is needed for that, and that is another level of complexion all in itself.

[Matthew Ruiz] "I always run into the issue of not being able to render the videos from the animation software without a background or with the needed reflections"

This should not be an issue. You just need to review what you're doing and why you're struggling. C4D and its many available renderers all can output alpha and separate passes that will enable you to recreate whatever it is that you're relying on AE for.

I'd still recommend you to check (if you haven't already) Video Copilot'ss Element 3d plugin. It straightforward, robust and can get plenty of jobs like that done all within AE, with just the model with UV's from your 3D applications.

Cassius Marques
http://www.zapfilmes.com


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