3D World

Your CG prob­lems solved

- Miranda Fowler, Dublin

Pro artists tackle your queries

Mike Griggs replies

Cre­at­ing ex­cit­ing prod­uct shots used to be a mat­ter of dark back­grounds and depth of field. Times change though, and the cur­rent trends in ad­ver­tis­ing are lean­ing heav­ily to­wards more use of sin­gle colours in en­vi­ron­ments, with well-lit hero ob­jects to the fore.

A tra­di­tional method­ol­ogy to cre­ate a sim­ple colour back­ground would have been to ren­der the shot with an al­pha chan­nel, and then in comp add a sin­gle colour. The is­sue with that kind of work­flow is that of­ten shad­ows are needed to add ‘weight’ to the hero ob­ject. That can be­come a com­plex comp­ing is­sue as shadow maps need to be cre­ated, and th­ese can cre­ate more prob­lems in comp than they are worth.

Thank­fully solid-colour back­grounds with work­ing shad­ows are rel­a­tively easy to cre­ate in MAXON Cin­ema 4D and Red­shift. This is done by break­ing down the core com­po­nents into two dis­tinct group­ings. The first is the hero model and the lights that are used to light it. In the ex­am­ple shown, the hero model is the phone. There are two Red­shift area lights, a key light which han­dles the pri­mary re­flec­tion on the screen glass, and a rim light which han­dles the reflection­s on the edges of the phone.

The sec­ond group con­trols the shad­ows and the back­ground colour. This group

com­prises of a dome light which only shows the back­ground colour. There’s also a back­ground ob­ject, which in this ex­am­ple is a Disc ob­ject with a Red­shift Matte ob­ject tag ap­plied that is set to only show shad­ows. There is also a Red­shift area light set to cast shad­ows from the phone onto the Disc ob­ject.

The se­cret to mak­ing all of th­ese groups work in­de­pen­dently while still work­ing to­gether is a mat­ter of de­cid­ing which ob­jects the lights ap­ply their light to. For ex­am­ple, the hero phone lights af­fect both Spec­u­lar and Dif­fuse prop­er­ties. In con­trast, the shadow lights af­fect Dif­fuse only, and the dome light does not af­fect any prop­er­ties.

Us­ing the dome light with a solid colour in­stead of an image as a back­ground plate al­lows for the back­ground colour to be an­i­mated di­rectly in Cin­ema 4D. This an­i­ma­tion can be timed and viewed with the hero an­i­ma­tion.

Un­der­stand­ing th­ese tech­niques can be a great way to learn how to make prod­uct shots that are both stylish and quick to cre­ate. Let’s take a look.

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 ??  ?? A stylish prod­uct shot with a sin­gle-colour back­ground is easy to cre­ate us­ing Red­shift lights
A stylish prod­uct shot with a sin­gle-colour back­ground is easy to cre­ate us­ing Red­shift lights

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